What would you do to show a girl she mattered?

We are so often advised to ‘leave gender out of it’. That the person behind the work, whether male or female in gender, it’s irrelevant as long as the work is done and done well. Most of us reading this blog post live in countries where women have the opportunity to be educated, to work, to pay taxes, to vote and all other things that most lament over. It isn’t even second-guessed. Developed countries that consider the voices of men and women as a collective society, not having the value of citizens opinions be divided and measured by gender and an ocean of discrimination.

Think of a woman that inspires you. I’ll tell you of one that inspires me. She is smart, independent, she sets goals for the future and stays focused to reach objectives. She knows how to save money for something she wants, has her own opinions about politics and religion, she cares about the environment and tries to better it each day she exists. She is under 20 and amazes me all the time. She is my daughter. Recently she has applied to University and we’ve had lots of good talks about her plans for the future. I feel a renewed faith in society knowing my daughter is growing up and being let loose to be a part of society soon. People like her will make a difference in our future. They are the ones who will make the medicines of our future to keep our old selves alive amongst a plethora of other massive leaps in humanity.

Now I know we aren’t ‘supposed’ to think in gender but humour me this, imagine if the hope of mankind lay solely in the hands of men. We fly back to the Middle Ages. Women are at home washing plates. You may have laughed over this but fact is, many countries in the world still have a great divide and show preferential treatment to males while females are denied basic necessities like an eduction. If not life itself. They are married off young, impregnated young, their rights are non-existent and they do not stand a chance from the moment they are born simply because they are born girls.

While in school, we were shown a very graphic video in our Women’s Studies class. I’ll warn you in advance that some parts, like from beginning to end, made me feel sick to my stomach so I’ll just add the trailer. It’s about How mothers have been forced to kill their own babies if they were girls. Femicide. The pain would be undeniable, even if culture conditioned you that female life is dispensable. Not even being dramatic but some girls live their lives trying to survive from Day 1. Some are lucky. But what does lucky mean? What does lucky for them look like?

Think of the world you live in. Think of everyone you know and everyone you work with. Take out all the women. All their opinions, their input and output, their ideas, take out their presence in public places. They won’t be sitting beside you in schools, they won’t be in any place that serves alcohol or even publicly as single people. There will be none in government or politics, their presence non existent in voter booths meaning zero influence on who runs the country they live in. Imagine the women you know having no rights over their bodies. That their word means nothing beside that of a man’s… Please do not get me wrong, I am not against men, I love men. This is about the women being denied basic rights, not a dislike for men.

Are you infuriated yet? And yet this happens in the world we live in. In the year 2016. A girl the same age as my daughter would likely be a married mother who little to no education. We (North America) spend so much on sex education and go through so many media spectacles over it and its delivery… In Africa, girls are being bought and sold like cattle and don’t stand a chance to escape their ‘fate’.

12643011_10153138914776324_2522975292917599151_nIt’s easy to get caught up in our own lives and problems unless we are directly impacted by what’s going on. Well then, let’s be realistic. Think of the powerhouse workforce of women that is left out there, untouched. Think of the benefit to the economy having a more intelligent and educated entire population. Think of the creative minds behind proverbial bars. It’s a loss to the world. A loss to the human race. This is an example of when including the gender into consideration is of utmost importance.

Now that I’ve depressed you with the bad stuff, let’s reverse things and put a positive spin. What if moves we could make could start a global change happening? What if gradually our children and grandchildren start seeing the equality scales tip in favor of women’s rights? What if we all made a commitment to change? This is what some are doing providing inspiration for us all.

A group of women in the Manchester area have joined forces to do their part in helping change our historical footprint. Louisa Rees took a life coaching course with the final intent of creating a charity event. I asked her what inspired her to take such grandiose steps in her own life to make a difference in that of others. This is what she said:

“I’m passionate about education, I worked a special needs teacher and am now a special education needs coordinator. I have very personal reasons for going into education to do with a a teacher who inspired me to believe in myself when I didn’t think it possible. I saw how that one teacher changed my life and want to do the same for others. To nurture self belief and give opportunity.”

12592201_10154033981650809_3476130458577895126_nAfter a highly successful benefit to help the crisis after the Nepal earthquake in 2015, it was decided a benefit, SHE,  would be organized to raise £2000 to help 14 girls in Sierra Leon get an education. Louisa joined forces with Laura Hancock and started planning the campaign and event. The two handpicked the all-female entertainment for the evening not to be some cliche ‘all girl lineup’ but rather create a backdrop of empowerment for women all over. Having women inspire women. In a venue owned by a woman. For an event created and advertised by women. To raise money for a cause that helps not only women but for the betterment of the world as a whole.

“I decided on an all female DJ line up as I wanted to show that woman are talented DJ’s. I looked into the music industry and the techno and DJ scene. It is so male dominated. Having an all female DJ line up is empowering and inspirational and I believe it necessary to redress stereotypes and prejudice and also raise awareness of some amazing talent regardless of gender.” – Louisa Rees

Gemma Furbank, the event’s headliner expressed her excitement about playing at this upcoming Saturday’s event at Texture.

“Many people complain about helping out charities when “we need it at home”, but to me charities such as onegirl.org go beyond the surface and are looking at a long term game plan where people will be able to help themselves too. They are working directly for the future. An educated girl can bring so much to her family, to her village. Give them a voice. I just think the whole concept is something I firmly believe in, and it is a pleasure to be involved. “

You can check out some of Gemma’s music here:

Before I go any further, about the charity, One Girl, that Louisa chose, it is actually Australian and helping girls primarily in Sierra Leon. After researching a variety of charities, Louisa picked One Girl because it aligned with her ethics and value system as it was founded by the very life coaching course that inspired her philanthropic venture to begin with. Almost kismet. The true stories of the girls spoke to her and she just needed to do her part. For me, as an outsider, it made me feel good to research it and see that Oprah herself did a campaign to help One Girl last December and helped educate 11 girls by donating a pair of her shoes.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 12.28.48 PMSaturday night promises well worth the donation at the door in Manchester at Texture. The theme of the night is ‘Inspiration, Empowerment and Fun’ and black and white projected photos of inspirational creative females of past and present will be displayed as a visual recognition of women’s talent and creativity. Their Facebook event page also houses inspiring photos as well as links to articles about things such as historical influential women of electronic music. The idea of SHE began with a desire to make a difference and the action of an amazing group of people who came together to make things happen! The lead of the project is Laura Hancock who has been organising DJ slot times, flyering, FB updates/promotion to name a few things – she came up with the catch phrase – ‘get to the rave – help make the change‘. Louisa and Laura joined forces with a collective her (Louisa’s) husband, Geraint Rees, established, “four:four“, a Manchester based collective of creative people to promote local talent and give a platform to emerging artists, to enable them to perform when otherwise they may not get the chance. The husband-wife duo are a great example of mutual support bringing to mind the quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” with the pair exemplifying equality beginning in their own backyard.

“I’ve learned that the best way to make a change is to empower and inspire, empowering other female leaders is important, developing and nurturing each other, helping other to succeed is the most rewarding thing and world changing.” says Louisa.  “I believe in an equal world free from discrimination and prejudice. Rather than become cynical that the world isn’t like this I aim to redress the balance! I’m totally committed to change anyway that I can, the four:four presents SHE night is just the beginning.”

12647417_10153138914781324_922903703418001438_nMalala Yousafzai unknowingly risked her life to promote education for girls by writing a blog post in 2009 at the ripe age of 11-12, the very time many girls are married. After surviving an assassination attempt Malala went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 (amongst a myriad of other awards and recognitions) and continues to advocate with all her might for educational equality. Even a near-death experience did not make her stop in her conviction. Malala is now an international symbol of the reason WHY girls need to be educated and have equal rights and respect. Malala is definitely one voice that has been heard worldwide. Louisa, Laura and everyone involved in the SHE night are having their voices heard. And us? What are we doing to have our voice heard?

I look at my daughter and feel compelled to do my part, even if for now it’s just writing this blog post to raise awareness to remind us how fortunate we are to live in developed countries where even though we scoff at our rights or lack thereof, women have many of the same liberties men do, and rightly so. Women are a huge contributing factor to our well-oiled society and the proof is in the pudding if we look at all the superstar women we know.

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 12.23.36 PMTogether as a society but equally as individuals those of us who come from a place of ‘abundance’ can do our part in becoming global citizens and extending a helping hand. The SHE event is a prime example of how something fun can also be worldly and beneficial and when like-minded individuals come together working as a team, great things happen.

Today, I start a part time job hunt to save money for my daughter’s continuing education and I’ll count my blessings for the liberties I have in doing so. I’ll also go pick up a girl friend from the airport who is landing from India as an exchange student to finish her education in Toronto. Flipped her world upside down to come to this little town… She amazes me too! I have been lucky. And raised with privilege. It’s my hopes that someday education and equality aren’t things that are considered ‘privilege’ rather just necessity but until then, each small success starts with one individual step.

For more on onegirl.org.au check out their site for ways you can help: http://www.onegirl.org.au

For more detailed event information and tickets for the SHE event in Manchester this weekend: http://www.skiddle.com/whats-on/Manchester/Texture/SHE/12638677/







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