Blogs. News - 08 March 2021

Board Blog: Why I’m “Choosing to Challenge” this International Women’s Day

First celebrated in 1911, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate women who’ve made history and continue to champion change and encourage future generations.

This year’s International Women’s Day these is ‘choose to challenge’. The day will highlight everyone’s ability to challenge and call out on gender bias and equality, encouraging people to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements to help create an inclusive world.

We asked D2N2 Board member and diversity and inclusivity champion, Michele Farmer, for her thoughts on why choosing to challenge is important this International Women’s Day.

As a working parent, and a woman who has worked at senior levels in different sectors, I am passionate about recognising and celebrating the strengths and abilities of women.

This year, in my day job, I have seen a growing number of young women entrepreneurs setting up in business, I see them being ambitious and juggling responsibilities of caring and the demands of home schooling.

We know the pandemic has impacted more on women, and not just due to balancing the needs of work and home.

There are a lot of women who are keyworkers, who have been out there keeping us safe and risking their own health and wellbeing – and that of their families, too. Sectors where a lot of women traditionally work – such as retail and health and beauty jobs, have been hit very hard by months of closure, uncertainty and worry.

Many women have been furloughed and have seen their income fall during this time and some have found themselves unemployed in a particularly challenging job market.

Challenges for women start at a young age – recently, we have seen some shocking research from the Education Policy Institute that indicates how girls and young women’s wellbeing has fallen. As many as one in three girls report they are unhappy with their personal appearance by the age of 14 with heavy use of social media has been shown to negatively affect wellbeing and self-esteem.

It is vital that those of us in the youth sector “choose to challenge” and continue to give young people hope, to build their confidence and skills, show them the positive role models and help them believe in themselves.

This is why International Women’s Day is so important this year.

Michele Farmer sits on D2N2’s board as voluntary, community, and social enterprise (VCSE) representative and diversity and inclusion champion. She is also Director for the Prince’s Trust in Central England, helping young people to get their lives on track and secure work or self-employment.

As well as the D2N2 Board, Michele has served on many other Boards and governing bodies. Her key areas of interest are the creative industries and young people, particularly those who are at risk – this has led her to work with schools, colleges, youth offending teams, local and national charities, and young people.

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