#BreakTheBias – this year’s incredible theme for International Women’s Day which falls on Tuesday 8th March.
Now I just want to start off this blog by saying a massive big up to all the incredible women out there, especially all of the Team Valcato galdem. (OK, I won’t ever use that word again, promise). But, I do think that the upcoming International Women’s Day (IWD) is super important to highlight and celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Here at Valcato, we are proud to have so many amazing women in our production/creative teams and cast.
We all wanted to show our support for this special day, and strike the #BreakTheBias pose. There are many ways, large and small, to honour this day and the wonderful women in your life – you could engage on social media and post using the #IWD2022 & #BreakTheBias hashtags, or fundraise for a female-focused charity, or simply tell the women in your life that you love, support and appreciate them.
Now, we all remember the parish council zoom saga during lockdown and the absolute boss lady that is Jackie Weaver (photo below for those of you who missed it). Jackie propelled her to national fame after she stood her ground and kicked out two troublesome council members challenging her authority. She is now telling women to “stop stepping backwards, stop bowing out and stop listening to those negative voices and be kind to yourself”. It has been announced in recent news that this year, Jackie is a special guest at The Black Country Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Leadership team event, as they celebrate International Women’s Day. Also reported – a UK boss is giving over 800 of their female staff the day off, paid, to show a small token of appreciation.
As we look back into our field of expertise, music, there have been many significant female artists who have helped to reinvent the wheel in the industry – without the recognition they deserve. The first female composer (at least that the history books remember) Kassiani, an eighth-century nun who composed Byzantine chants – which are still listened to today. Fast forward to 2007, Beyoncé decided to switch things up first major solo world tour — The Beyoncé Experience. Queen B created an all-female band, The Sugar Mamas, with the aim of highlighting female musicians, so young girls could be inspired to play instruments.
More recently, Little Mix released their “LM5” album, which has been described by the group as a feminist album. The album took inspiration from the group’s own experiences with sexism and from the ‘Me Too’ movement. I mean, personally, I adore this album and the stand Little Mix made. My top songs have to be ‘Joan of Arc’, ‘Wasabi’ and ‘Strip’!
Keeping on the music theme are musicals which celebrate women, and highlight the fight women have had throughout history, such as Made In Dagenham, Jagged Little Pill, & Juliet and Six – all incredible musicals within their own right, I recommend you go see them. And I couldn’t miss out the song “Me and the Sky” from the musical “Come From Away” which tells the real story of Beverley Bass, the first female captain of an American Airlines commercial plane. With quotes from Beverley used as lyrics in the number;
“American Airlines had the prettiest planes
So I applied as a flight engineer
But the World War II pilots, they all complained
They said, “girls shouldn’t be in the cockpit”
“Hey lady, hey baby, hey! Why don’t you grab us a drink?”
And the flight attendants weren’t my friends back then
And they said, “Are you better than us, do you think?”
As my way to honour IWD, I wanted to look back at some of the most influential female figures in our history…
Emmeline Pankhurst was a political activist, probably best know for organising the UK suffragette movement. Pankhurst tried to join the left-leaning Independent Labour Party through her friendship with Keir Hardie, but had her membership refused by the local branch due to her gender. In 1903, she founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) – “an all-female suffrage advocacy organisation dedicated to ‘deeds, not words'”. Between 1908 and 1913, Emmeline was arrested and jailed numerous times, for the WSPU’s ‘radical’ tactics to have their voices heard – arson, police assault, damage property.
Prisoners at this time, who supported the suffragettes, were subjected to horrendous treatment in jail, so when the stories of this ill-treatment reached the newspapers, it actually helped to increase support for the suffragette movement. Ultimately, her work with the Women’s Social and Political Union ultimately facilitated the success of the Representation of the People Act in 1928, which granted British women the same voting rights as men.
Marie Salomea Skłodowska Curie was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist. Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields. In 1898 whilst working with her husband, Pierre Curie, the pair discovered polonium and radium. They won the Nobel Prize for Physics for discovering radioactivity in 1903, and in 1911 Curie won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for isolating pure radium. Following work on X-rays during World War I, she studied radioactive substances and their medical applications. Marie and her husband discovered that radium destroyed diseased cells faster than healthy cell and, therefore, radiation could be used to treat tumours.
Florence Nightingale was a British nurse, social reformer and statistician. Nightingale served as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War, where she was a staple in organising care for wounded soldiers at Constantinople. Nicknamed “The Lady with the Lamp”, Florence made the rounds of wounded soldiers in hospital each night and became somewhat of an icon of Victorian culture. In 1860, she created the foundations for professional nursing after creating a nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Nightingale’s hard work to reform healthcare had a hug influence on the quality and sanitary nature of care in the 19th and 20th centuries. In her honour, and to celebrate her achievements the Nightingale Pledge taken by new nurses, and the Florence Nightingale Medal (the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve) were named.
The story of Rosa Parks is one that strikes a chord with me – I remember this being a focus point in one of my drama modules at school and it’s something that has stuck with me to this day. Rosa Parks was an activist in the American civil rights movement (1954 to 1968). The purpose of the movement was to abolish institutional racial segregation, discrimination, and disenfranchisement in the United States. In Alabama in 1955, on the 1st December, Parks rejected the bus driver’s orders to vacate a row of four seats in the “colored” section in favour of a white passenger as the “white” section was full. This stance helped to inspire the black community to boycott the buses of Montgomery, Alabama for over a year. Although not the only person to this, Rosa
Parks’ actions that day led to a decision, in November 1956, that bus segregation was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Parks became an international icon and collaborated with other civil rights leaders, including Edgar Nixon and Martin Luther King Jr.
Well I certainly feel inspired after looking into so many incredible, inspirational women that have helped shape the world we live in today. So, to sum all of this up, and in the words of Queen B herself…… Who run the world? GIRLS!
Ciao for now, Otti x