Women in Football

Unfortunately our Lionesses were knocked out last night in the Euro semi-finals by the Netherlands. But regardless of that ‘failure’, they still reached their second semi-final in three years. They should be proud of this. We all should be.

“If the men’s team were doing this well, they’d have changed the name of our currency to Raheem Sterling.”

But our country should also be ashamed. Ashamed of the state football is in today, the inequality and the large sum of unsustainable money in the game.

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Over a hundred years ago we invented the glorious game, but in 1921 the FA banned football for women. A couple of weeks back Clare Balding hosted a great programme on Channel 4 – ‘When Football Banned Women’ . If you’re into football and or a feminist, get it watched.

During and after WWI women’s football was very popular but then all of a sudden they were banned from playing the sport for a whole 50 years because fuddy duddy men in the FA did not want women getting paid for playing football. Outrageous!

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As much as women’s football is now legal, the game is still far from being equal. Just this week Neymar was sold to PSG for a record breaking £200mil, he’ll be earning £782k a week! Compare this to the highest paid female footballer, Steph Houghton who earns roughly £60k a year… again… outrageous!

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In Clare’s documentary she visited a girl’s team, when asked who their heroes and heroines were they replied Stevie G, Jagielka, Joe Hart etc. Not very many heroines, and why would there be? Women’s football gets very little coverage. The past few weeks the Euro’s have been taking place in the Netherlands, I’ve seen very little of the tournament on the back pages of newspapers, I’ve not seen one St George’s flag in a super market, or dangling off people’s car. How can the future stars of England’s women’s team have a heroine role model when the media don’t cover their game?

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The FA have set a target for 2020 to double the number of women and girls playing football, they have also been running a girl’s football week (16th July – 6th August) with the aim to raise the sport’s profile. It would be great to see at the next women’s World Cup held in France a bigger hype, helping improve equality and respect in the sport.

Good luck to all working to achieve that, and chin up Lionesses! x

The Monthly Gift

My first ever blog post back in December last year was about Monthlies, a period subscription box. Their boxes are filled with sanitary products, all organic and plastic, chlorine, animal testing free. For every box you purchase, 20% of the profits will go to support women and girls in the UK and abroad. I still use Monthlies, they are amazing, but over the months I’ve managed to accumulate quite a stock of excess sanitary products.

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A few weeks ago in Nottingham I stumbled upon The Monthly Gift who are a campaign that donates sanitary products to homeless women and those who have limited access to them. This was a perfect solution to my ever increasing pile of pads!

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Periods are annoying on a good day. But they are a whole lot more difficult to deal with when you don’t have a home or a bathroom or money and that is the reality for thousands of homeless women everyday.

The issue even goes beyond the homeless, girls in the UK are missing school because they can’t afford sanitary products. Female pupils could be skipping up to a week of school every single month because they can’t afford sanitary products and they’re too afraid to ask for them due to the ridiculous stigma and shame still attached to periods.

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You can help.

If you don’t live local to Nottingham there is also a Monthly Gift Manchester  and many other charities that help provide period support to those that need it such as; The Homeless Period, Action Aid and Irise. Food banks are also a great place to donate.

Give it a go!

May and June Book Review

It has been over two months since my last book review. Following on from #GIRLBOSS I’ve continued with the feminism theme…

Handmaid’s Tale

Written by Margaret Atwood, this book was chosen by Emma Watson’s feminist Good Read‘s book club, Our Shared Shelf, as the May read. The book has also recently been turned into a TV series staring Elizabeth Moss (currently on channel4).

Set in an alternative USA dystopian future, Handmaid’s Tale explores a scenario where the population is declining and the ability to reproduce is super sacred. The elite class in this future society employee Handmaid’s (fertile women) to get pregnant, give birth, and then hand over their child.

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The book is deep. And in today’s society with Trump in power, it really makes you think. The women in this book are forced to give up their identity, their power, their families to procreate for a higher class. Maybe not a book to read by the pool this summer, but definitely worth a read. Both the book and TV series I give a 5/5.

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Mad Love

On the other hand, Mad Love by Nick Spalding is definitely a book to read by the pool. I’d classify this book as ‘chick-lit’. Not the best written, however certain parts were very funny.

The book is about a dating website that match up two people, that have never met before, to get married. You can probably see where it leads… they don’t get on, they do get on, they hate each other, they live happily ever after…

If you want an easy read, this is most certainly that. I give it 2/5.

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We Should All Be Feminists

My amazing friend Antoinette bought me this book as a present. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian writer, puts a very funny spin on the truth about 21st century female discrimination. I give it a 5/5. Here are some of my favourite quotes:

“We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.”

“A woman at a certain age who is unmarried, our society teaches her to see it as a deep personal failure. And a man, after a certain age isn’t married, we just think he hasn’t come around to making his pick.”

“And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.” 

“The sad truth of the matter is that when it comes to appearance, we start off with men as the standard, as the norm. Many of us think that the less feminine a woman appears, the more likely she is to be taken seriously. A man going to a business meeting doesn’t wonder about being taken seriously based on what he is wearing—but a woman does.” 

“There are slightly more women than men in the world—52 percent of the world’s population is female—but most of the positions of power and prestige are occupied by men.” 

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Harry Potter

Monday marked 20 years since Philosopher’s Stone was published and I genuinely cannot believe it!

Harry Potter has been such a huge part of my life. My Gran bought me the first book for Christmas back in 1997 (I was just 7 years old!). Every summer holidays I would read the whole series in wait for the latest book release (that agonising queue at Waterstone’s in Durham). The last time I read all 7 books was 8 years ago.

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Yesterday in honour of the 20th anniversary I once again opened the first book, and will continue to reread all 7 of them this summer. It just never ever gets old. And with J.K Rowling being a super feminist, it seemed fitting that these books were included in this post. I rate all 7 books a 10/5!

“I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin.’ And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons.”

Step Up

For regular readers you will know that I am currently raising money for Labour Behind the Label who are a charity that campaigns to improve conditions and empower workers in the global garment industry. This month they launched a campaign for shoe brands to Step Up and tell us where our shoes are made.

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In 2014 24 billion pairs of shoes were produced, 87% of those shoes were made in Asia. Workers in the shoe industry face many issues from poverty pay, long working hours and denial of union rights to health and environmental risks.

 

Naga-Bai-65-years-homeworker-–-sewer-2Meet Naga Bai, a 65 year old home shoe worker from Ambur in India. For every pair of shoes she stitches, she earns just 10p. She can sew a maximum of 10 pairs per day, meaning her daily income is about £1. This is far too little to live on, a kilogram of rice costs up to 43p. As a home worker, Naga Bai is not eligible to receive any employment benefits, such as a pension or medical insurance.

 

Many shoes are made of leather that use toxic chemicals and dyes which can be dangerous to workers. Chromium 6, used in leather tanning, can cause asthma, eczema, blindness and cancer. When it transfers to the waste water it causes harmful pollution to the environment and to communities nearby.

cys2Here is Jahaj and his brother, aged 8 and 7, working in a factory where animal hides are tanned in Hazaribagh, Bangladesh. They process the raw hides into the first stage of leather. Their job is to get inside the tannery pit, which is full of hazardous chemicals and pull out the hides. They both suffer from rashes and itches. Asked why they perform such dangerous tasks, they said: “When we are hungry, acid doesn’t matter. We have to eat.”

Labour Behind the Label are calling on us to ask ‘who made our shoes’. If brands are transparent about where their shoes are being made it helps workers to claim their rights.

For example…

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Compensation – When the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh collapsed in 2013, more than 1,100 garment workers were killed. But before their families could seek compensation from the brands, the brands’ labels had to be picked out of the rubble. This is because information about which brands were making clothes at those factories wasn’t publicly available. In the horrific event of another catastrophe like Rana Plaza, transparency will allow compensation to be paid for workers and their families much more quickly.

Wages and employment conditions – Knowing the average wages of workers on different grades within a factory and across similar factories would allow for a union to scrutinise whether wages are fair and enough to live on. Women homeworkers play an essential role stitching leather uppers for shoes. But they are often invisible, their rights ignored and they are at the mercy of their employer. Brands must identify and recognise homeworkers and give them the same rights as any other workers.

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What can we do?

You can sign Labour Behind the Label’s petition to call for leading UK shoe brands and retailers Schuh, Office, Faith, Debenhams, Dr Martens, Primark, Asda, Very.co.uk, Bohoo.com, Boden, Harvey Nichols and Sports Direct along with leading global shoe brands Deichmann, Camper, Prada, Birkenstock, CCC and Leder to:

  • Publish the names and addresses of all their suppliers
  • Report on progress in moving away from dangerous chemicals
  • Show that they are respecting the human rights of the people who make their shoes, ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions.

You could reduce the number of shoes you buy. An increase in fast fashion has                   drove brands to resort to using unethical practices in making shoes. Buying less                 and better quality will help to combat this.

Or you could buy from ethical shoe brands such as:

April Book Review

Since getting a Kindle back in February I have managed to worm my way through 9 books. I set myself a challenge on Good Reads to conquer 24 books in 2017. So far I’m not doing too bad.

In April I read 4 books and started a 5th. In this review I would like to talk about 3 of those books.

The Cows

Written by an idol of mine (Dawn O’Porter) and released just last month. It begins with such a poignant opening passage regarding a cow and it’s comparison to a woman’s stereotype, to reproduce and be used solely for milk or beef. A story of three very different women whose lives somehow intertwine around sex, men, struggles, independence, family, the media and babies. This book was emotional, inspiring and entertaining. I give it 5/5.

“COW n. /ka?/

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Don’t follow the herd.”

101 Ways to Live Cleaner and Greener for Free

Written by Anna Pitt I read this on a train journey to London. It is a great book, set out in a simple format of three parts – a short passage covering the various topics such as waste, water, food and energy – the maths, what savings you can make both in money and helping the planet – the tips, a quirky illustration alongside tips from real people.

Many of the tips covered, if I am honest, are common sense and already how I live my life. However some of the facts around how much we waste in the UK were fascinating and I did find some tips really helpful. I give it 4/5.

“The average UK household uses around 500 litres of water every day and about a third of that water is flushed straight down the toilet!

#GIRLBOSS

Having recently watched the new Netflix series Girlboss all in one sitting on a Saturday afternoon (loved every vintage minute), I did some digging into what the show was based on and found that it surprisingly was originally a book. Written by the creator of Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso, this book is full of inspiration on how to become #GIRLBOSS.

Sophia tells the tale of how she grew her business from selling vintage on ebay to become a huge successful corporation. What I gathered from the book is that the key to success is to find what you are passionate about, combine that with what you are good at, and work ridiculously hard. This book isn’t supposed to be a feminist book, but from reading it, I’d say it is. I give it 4/5. I also give the Netflix series 4/5 (fabulous clothes and soundtrack).

“I’m telling you that you don’t have to choose between smart and sexy. You can have both. You are both.”

I hope you’ve found this helpful! Stay posted for my May Book Review…

My Homage to Girls

My Girls journey began right at the very start, in 2012. I was in my last year of uni, facing big life choices, having an identity crisis, coping with a new boyfriend, losing and making friends, gaining parents approval, blah blah blah… Watching Girls provided me confidence, solidarity and a good old giggle.

Over the last five years as Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, Shosh, Elijah, Ray and Adam grew, so did I. They are all messes in their own special way. None of their relationships are conventional or perfect. And this gave me comfort. It made me realise that very few people actually have their shit together.

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I would like to thank each one of them.

Hannah for embracing her lumpy bumpy nakedness and making me feel worthy to embrace my own.

Jessa for her no fucks given attitude.

Marnie for her annoyingness.

(yeah I struggled to find pics for Marnie, she really did annoy me)

Shosh for her honesty.

And the lads (Elijah, Ray, Adam).

I am very sad that Girls is now over. Throughout the final series I have burst into tears over and over again. The penultimate episode for me was amazing, in my mind it should of been the last. It would of been a great ending. All of them together, hashing it out, laughing, dancing. It gave me some satisfactory closure. Then along came Monday’s episode. I’m unsure if it was really needed, I feel we could of all just left how Hannah would be as a mam to our own imagination. Nevertheless, the final scene gave me goosebumps.

Along the way Girls has mirrored my relationship with friends. Some off getting married, others having babies, others off travelling, others doing great in a career, others doing not a lot at all. Some I have drifted apart from, realising that perhaps what we had in common we no longer do. Some I have grown closer to, depending on each other in new ways.

What Girls has definitely done is revive feminism. Never before has twitter, instagram, blogs, newspapers, tv been more littered with feminist talk. Again, for that, Girls I am grateful.

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Anyway. Thank you Girls.

I’m now off to yoga in my fangirl t-shirt to pay further homage.

Be Bold For Change – International Women’s Day

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate the past, present and future achievements of women, and a day to remember how far equality has still yet to come.

I celebrate the fact that ever since I was little I have always believed that whatever a man can do, I can also do. Whether that be playing football, decorating a wall, drinking beer, wearing brogues, getting a good job, carrying heavy bags, travelling the world or paying bills. These things have been instilled into me by both the women and men around me growing up. And for that I am very very thankful.

As much as equality has come so far, especially in the UK, many girls and women today still do not have that support or opportunity. The things I take for granted are a millions miles from reality for some.

For some the ability to choose who to marry, have a vote, have a child or not, get an education, earn a decent wage, learn to drive, speak openly or wear what they want is unheard of.

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Even in the UK many women do not have the same job prospects or the same pay as men. Despite having a female Prime-Minister women are not always taken as seriously for fear ’emotion’ will get in the way. Heels, make-up and skirts are expected to be worn. Pressure is still given around marriage and having children.

International Women’s Day is asking us all to #BeBoldForChange. On their site you can vote for how you will take action. I decided to forge women’s advancements and pledge to:

  • buy from companies that support women
  • support or back a woman-owned business
  • invite women into situations where they’re not already present or contributing
  • measure and report on gender parity gaps and keep gender on the agenda

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Go ahead and make your pledge and Be Bold For Change.