INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021
At Britcham EU & Belgium, we take pride in recognising –
the achievements of women from different backgrounds
and cultures, in the workplace and all across our global
See what our members and leadership have to say!
Who is your female role model?
The late Mother Theresa because of her hands-on caring leadership and what it teaches us in life and in business.
Dr Mary Hamer (academic, researcher, novelist) who was my English tutor at Cambridge in the 1980s.
She was challenging yet compassionate and helped me realise that there were so many opportunities in the world and alternative ways of seeing things. I have a particularly vivid memory of sitting in her kitchen after I had done rather badly in some exams and her reaction, I believe, was pivotal for me – not just then but subsequently in how to turn disappointment into success. Instead of getting out the tissues she helped me put together a plan of how I would succeed and not be defeated. I took her advice and worked hard and in a focused way, and yes, I succeeded. Thank you Mary.
My mother – she was writing ‘burn your bra’ into people’s visitors books in the late 60s just as feminism was becoming a ‘thing’; The female Eunuch was published I think in 1970s. Having served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) during the war she went onto have 5 children, ran a small farm and supported a working husband. With a young family she was unable to go to University after the war so after 4 of them left home, she went to get her degree at the age of 50.
Former US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – an amazing woman who demonstrated the power of dissent from even the smallest of voices. She remained passionate in her pursuit of justice within a highly male dominated field and was a champion not only for women, but for freedom, diversity and equality. She once said, “women belong in all places where decisions are made”, and she was right. Gender equality needs to be accepted as the norm, not the exception.
My 16-year-old twin girls, Tatiana and Elisabeth, because they:
- inspire me with their courage, enthusiasm and dauntless persistence in pursuing their goals;
- make my heart sing with a smile or even a scowl because I see what’s underneath
- encourage and support me as I navigate pressures and challenges in growing my business
- make me laugh, even when I’m angry or stressed
- reconnect me with my inner child anytime she gets forgotten
- fill me with wonder and awe at their ability to stride through this complicated life with femininity, joy and strength: un-deterred by inequalities because they know nothing and no-one can stop them and most of all because they make me the woman, I wish I was, because I want to do it for them
My grandmother, Dr Katharina Dalton who broke down many barriers to become a Harley Street doctor and a renowned world expert in her field. She demonstrated clearly that there was nothing that could not be achieved and that gender stereotypes at work were a nonsense. She did it all at a time when there were few female role models for her to look up to and she was one of the first to break the glass ceiling.
Beatrice Rangoni Machiavelli. When I was a young woman taking her first steps into politics, she was an inspiration, a mentor, an example. A person of great culture and radical persuasion, she is a politician, author, and activist: a true feminist and a great European. She was a member and then President of the European Economic and Social Committee, and she is a strong advocate for human rights. She never looked down on us young and inexperienced aspiring politicians, and she was, and still is, wonderful company, full of curiosity and life.
happy international women’s day from britcham!
A women’s empowerment moment that has inspired you…
The election and inauguration of Mrs. Kamila Harris as the first ever female Vice President of the USA. What a milestone for diversity in general, not only gender.
Megan Rapinoe has many of those moments that inspire. As a talented sportsperson in what has been a male dominated sport (soccer), she captains, plays and speaks with great intelligence.
It has to be the original movement – the Suffragettes, who faced prison and shame for standing up for the basic right that women should be allowed to have the vote. The fact that this happened in my grandmother’s lifetime showed how recently women were still officially being treated as second class citizens, even in a society which thought of itself as modern.
The election of Margaret Thatcher as first female UK Prime Minister, who, although divisive (she would probably would have been less criticised if she was a man), showed it was not only possible for a women to get to the top but she was every bit the leader her male colleagues were.
Are Working Mothers Bearing The Brunt Of Covid-19?
What does it mean to be a woman in the Brussels ‘bubble’?
The Brussels “bubble” is not a bad place to be for a woman, if you discount the fact that you still have to work twice as much as a man to get the same recognition: but at least you know you can! I did resent, though, to be considered for years only as somebody’s wife; this rarely happens to men.
Working in EU policy can be challenging and you need a certain toughness to make it in this field. Men tend to display this naturally and I’ve noticed at times that I’ll have to speak up more forcefully or louder to be heard. But there is another dimension women bring to the profession – different forms of creativity, communication skills, ways of problem-solving. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, but these skills have become increasingly valued. The large number of women heading up public affairs consultancies across Brussels is evident of that.
Why do we need more women in leadership?
The world population is 50/50 split between men and women, as such we need to see that split in leadership too. Particularly because men and women often have different strengths, all of which are needed in leadership and the world in general. Diverse groups perform better on all aspects of leadership.
We need good people in leadership so if those happen to be women bring it on. I work in what tends to be a male orientated industry but there are plenty of examples of good female leaders, managing marriage and childcare with partners successfully. It can be difficult, possibly even tough and we need to make it easier not just for the women but both partners so that bif they are both equally good they can both shine.
We need the best people to be leaders, but at the moment many potentially great women never become the leaders that they should be. Society at all levels, including businesses lose out because we are not making most of the talent we have. Women don’t get an equal shot at leadership roles and we are all the poorer for it.
In my experience no organisation can truly realise its potential without the skills, perspective and collective wisdom that comes with equality and inclusion of women in leadership.