It has been such an interesting week in the run up to International Women’s Day this year with several events that really resonate with us here at Global Bright Futures
The ‘day’ extended into a week of events across many areas celebrating International Women’s Day which first began in the 1900’s and was adopted by the UN in 1975. Events marking International Women’s Day are increasing each year to raise awareness for gender equality and women’s rights and offer an opportunity to bring women together to meet up and build their own networks.
Thanks to JLL, Coutts, NatWest for hosting ‘Women at the Frontier, an evening with Dame Stephanie Shirley’ this week.
It was a truly inspiring evening where Dame Stephanie shared her story of how she built an IT software business in the early 1960’s (Freelance Programmers) employing women.
‘Steve Shirley’ as she became known (because having a man’s name on letters sent out to other businesses at that time was the only way to get an appointment and to get through the door), set up her business selling computer software in 1962 employing a network of women who worked from home. The company later went on to employ 8500 people. Dame Stephanie’s story was incredible, touching, courageous, witty and full of humility as she shared some amazing facts on some of the computer coding programmes FP women had worked on from their homes, (The Black Box for Concorde Super-Sonic Flight was just one of these) and she shared some stories and insights into what women could not be employed to do at that time as well. Women could not be bus drivers or airline pilots so could not have been employed to fly Concorde or any other Plane at the time even when they were responsible for coding the black box flight recorder. Another example was that Steve Shirley could not open a bank account when she started her business without her husband’s signature on the application.
It is incredible to think nowadays that although Equal Pay legislation was introduced in 1970, even during the 1970’s working women in the UK were refused their own independent mortgages unless they could secure the signature of a male guarantor.
Even until the 1980’s, a married women’s income still had to be declared on her husband’s tax return (and even though in 1979 Britain had elected the first female Prime Minister). It was only in April 1990 that independent taxation for spouses was introduced as before this, women were still taxed under their husband’s tax code.
Dame Stephanie Shirley broke many barriers on the business front, and the freedoms and rights that women enjoy today in 2019 such as financial independence, property ownership and independent taxation is so very recent in our history that we have women like Dame Stephanie to thank who have truly paved the way for working women, and for these rights that we now take for granted. She pioneered the culture of women in business.
Women in the Food Industry (WIFI)
There were a whole week of events scheduled by WIFI this week from Saturday 2nd until Friday 8th.
At WIFI-Food for Good, which was hosted at Soane’s Kitchen in West London, there was such an interesting panel of Women in the Food Industry who gave their own insights, experiences and prompted a thought-provoking discussion on food waste and sustainability around the food retail industry, how change is needed and what can be done collectively and ended with a call on how to take this challenge forward.
On the panel were Little Portland Cookery School’s Ros Rathouse, Alex Head from Social Pantry, Joey O Hare of Joey’s Cooking, Jess Latchford from Wastenot UK, and Anita Kerai, Cook and TV presenter of ‘Return to Kenya’ with Mex from WIFI facilitating the discussion. Each of the panellists shared a passion for good food and shared each of their stories on how their love of food became their livelihood, and they were unanimous in their view that the battle to reduce and eliminate food waste should be stepped up by both government and industry.
International Women’s day is to bring Women together and can highlight the power of a collective voice for women.