Women, Power and Change

The second day of the Women of the World festival has begun with a bang, with a talk on women, power and change. The guest speakers were Shami Chakrabarti, Mary Portas and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.

Shami Chakrabarti is a serious lawyer, given to dark clothes and even darker eyeliner, who has a fierce intelligence and passionate commitment to civil rights has earned her devoted following. She discussed the situation of women in various European countries as well as in Africa and Asia (particularly Afghanistan). Jude Kelly OBE, Artistic Director of the the Southbank Centre in London, described Shami as a “rockstar of civil liberties”. Mrs Chakrabarti began her talk in a cheery note telling us that “human rights begins in small places close to home”. We were shocked to hear about the bill passed by the French President Sarkozy regarding muslim dress code eg. Women aren’t allowed to wear the burqa  in public places. It was also heartbreaking to hear that women in Africa are regularly, and unnecessarily dying during childbirth because their needs are not prioritised.  

The second speaker, Mary Portas is london’s leading retail marketing consultant and is the founder of one of london’s most respected agencies ‘Yellow Door’. She focused her talk on shopping and you know, us girls, we all love shopping! It is now proven that we are the master and commanders of the high street as 80% of women are the customers. We even buy men’s knickers! It was shocking to hear that loss of the local street can have a detrimental effect on the community, serenity and the society surrounding the area. She has set up a factory in a town, hired 8 unemployed young people, and started producing her line of ‘Kinkee Knickers’, within 5 months they sold over 30,000 pairs! In that sense she was quite an inspiring figure, according to Mary “we aren’t only consumers, we are all part of our local economy and community. So now it’s time for us to get on our bike and support our local off-licence!

Our final speaker, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, is one of Britain’s most distinguished lawyers and is an expert on human rights, civil liberties and women’s rights. She discussed the lack of women in positions of power and how we could change that…now take a piece of paper and a pen, you got it? right. We have to write a letter to the Prime minister saying that we would like to be appointed as a parliament candidate, let’s see if it works! We felt that these talks about being in a high position is more an idealist hope for utopia rather than reality. We do not think that her point of view would not succeed in deprived areas where women are struggling to survive . So, to finish, it was a very interesting and inspiring talk about women’s rights and how we can change ourselves and improve our future.

Written by Roxy Simons and Maggie Gogler.


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