International Women’s Day at 10 Downing St

Wow, wow, wow.

It’s not often I’m rendered speechless but I can’t quite believe that a month after I was last invited toDowning Street, I was invited again. This time, to celebrate the centenary of International Women’s Day. A room of over 150 incredible women, many recognisable faces from across all walks of life: sports, arts, media & journalism, business & commerce, law, charities and the military.

I have to confess to feeling like an imposter who gate-crashed a VIP party. Even after all the years I’ve been trying to improve representation of disability I still feel like I’m a beginner taking tentative first steps to try and make a difference. There is still so much that I would like to achieve; however it’s just not that easy juggling everything at once so sometimes I feel like I’m wading through slow, thick mud.

There was an abundance of famous names there but I think I was most awestruck by legendary lawyers Baroness Helena Kennedy and Shami Chakrabarti as well as the founder of Kids Company, Camila Batmanghelidjh and Christina Schmid, (widow of Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid); incredibly intelligent, articulate and inspiring women.

A room full of real female role models, not the product of reality shows, lads mags andWest Endnightclubs. It would be great if young schoolgirls had greater access to networking and mentoring events like this, to meet brilliant women and see what you can achieve with hard work and dedication rather than aspiring to make money and find fame with a quick kiss and tell in a tabloid.

There are still too many young girls with low self esteem and little self belief; unaware of their own potential, who place too much value on celebrity culture, on attaining transient, expensive status symbols and achieving fleeting fame rather than recognition for intellectual, artistic, sporting or scientific accomplishments. We need to do more to promote confidence in their abilities, and encourage them to strive academically and support them in reaching their goals.

I’ll leave it there for now, I’m wary of sounding incredibly earnest & condescending!

“The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many feminists from the 1970’s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives”.

I’ve attached a photo below of my brief introduction to the Prime Minister.

Isn’t our mutual eye contact marvellous?!


About Shannon Murray

I am an actress, broadcaster, writer and lawyer; not really that unusual but I am also paraplegic as a result of an accident as a teenager. This is the place where I ramble on about random stuff.
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