These are just a few adjectives to describe the dinner celebrating International Women’s Day on the 12th of March 2020. Almost a month has passed since that evening, but I still remember those four hours as if it was yesterday. Such a memorable night!
Firstly, the food was incredible, provided by Space&Thyme- I never thought vegan food could taste so delicious. Not being a meat-eater, I always preferred to cook at home rather than go to restaurants as I would be disappointed by the quality or quantity of the food. But I have to applaud The Mesmerist/Space&Thyme for changing my perspective on this. The creativity of each plate really opened my eyes to what is possible with a vegan menu.
But now let’s talk about the main part of the evening; the women, the protagonists of the night.
Two inspiring presentations started the evening off.
Firstly, was Jo’s from RubyMoon’s entrepreneurial story; she explained how in the most difficult situations you can pull yourself up and change the world by relying on your skillset and values.
The second speech was from Nina; the founder of FotoDocument with her love of photography, she’s empowering women photographers through the Marilyn Stafford FotoReportage award, a grant allowing a woman to complete a documentary photo essay on an important issue.
These two appearances kick-started a night of meaningful connections. However, the real magic began when I had the privilege to meet and listen to the 25 incredible women invitees.
All of these incredible women are changing the world in their own way through coaching, writing, producing, running an organization or founding one themselves. Each story was inspiring and empowering in its own and unique way. I laughed, reflected, and even shed a few tears.
Yet, personally, one thing stood out from everything that was happening around me: the sense of community. I’ve always been quite unlucky with female friends. I never felt truly accepted as I wasn’t properly fitting in. I’ve always wanted to feel part of a group, a female community where I could be able to be myself.
Finally, on the 12th March, for the very first time, I felt it. I felt what it meant to be part of something bigger, to connect with people of the same gender and truly feel accepted. These women made me understand the power and strength women have; that together we can change the world.
Jo quoted in her speech: ‘women hold up half the sky’, and right there I saw myself.
I was one of those women holding the sky, all of us working together to help the sky not fall. That evening I truly become a woman too. I’m not saying that I didn’t feel like one before, but I just needed the security of my community to know that I would be supported no matter what.
So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for making me feel part of something bigger and discover how special and strong a woman can be. Together we can make a difference and change the world for the better; a lesson I learnt by listening to you.
A special thank you to:
HiSBE supermarket rebels: offers a range of everyday groceries thoughtfully sourced from small, local producers and brands that trade responsibly, fairly and sustainably
Ozkan Accountants: Brighton’s leading accountants for freelancers and small businesses
Yurt Academy: establish new ways of looking, thinking and being though masterclasses
FotoSchool: FotoSchool Workshops are a platform for groups to discover and explore the power of the photographic image
Community Safety Manager for Refugees & Migrants at Brighton & Hove City Council
Holistic Therapist, Childbirth educator and birth attendant
Forests Without Frontiers: planting trees for future generations around the world and protecting the last ancient forests with the support of global musicians and artists
BHESCO: Brighton & Hove energy services cooperative
Coaching for XR rebels + life and career coaching
Emmaus: working to end homelessness
Emma Turner & Maya Woodley
Diversity & Ability: championing (neuro)Diversity and (dis)Ability inclusion through technology, training and talent
The Dolphin and Whale Connection: Dolphin and whale eco holiday
Voices in Exile: working with refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants with no recourse to public funds in East and West Sussex and Surrey
Mama Mzungu: a social enterprise soap making initiative of WACWAU (Women and Children with Albinism in Uganda)
Offers courses for people with Trauma
Nicky Chisholm & Michelle Marcar
Mumprenuers Network: a women’s business network with groups across London and the South of England. They also help advise, support and enable business growth with the MNC Hub
Soenecs: Providing advice and support in the fields of waste management, resource management, climate change, circular economy, renewable deployment, carbon management and partnership delivery
Author of The Cancer Ladies’ Running Club
Mindfulness coach: teaching mindfulness in Sussex
People Who Share: public speaker and author of Generation Share
FotoDocument: showcasing positive solutions through documentary photography
RubyMoon: sustainable, ethical & not-for-profit swimwear and activewear brand