Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King's College London

Tag: International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day – Power to the Woman

To make International Women’s Day 2022, King’s College London student Karen Ng wrote a poem titled ‘Power to the Woman’. Karen took inspiration from visions of a more equal world contributed by members of the King’s community via our  International Women’s Day padlet‘.


Photographic portrait of Karen Ng

Karen Ng.

You can watch Karen recite ‘Power to the Woman’ here.

To see a great woman

you don’t have to look behind you.

Stick it to the man. That is, the unspoken

man on the hill we keep the woman

at the foot of. The hill’s keeper blocking

from the stairs the woman of colour

and everyone gender non-conforming

every trans person. The hill

we deny ever having witnessed.

A hill with stairs she cannot climb? Better now–

is it still sacred. Do we live together

still on this cracked earth? Here is the power

the power to the woman-identifying.

The sheep was taught to be a sheep

but it climbs the hill as anyone can.

 

Without fear of thorns that could

follow her in the shadow

you shouldn’t have walked

in at all, the hollow tooth-gaps

peering from the self-made hill-peak

asks her to show her teeth.

 

Before anything there were

mothers and guardians who held us

in hands scrawling birthday cards

our waking born into the earth

accepting and humankind denying.

By all contested public accounts in contests

they never signed up for, allowed ENOUGH

#and LACKING at the same time.

Shot up with every other, above woman-hands

in the pocketless weight of all nurtured duty

glistens the stoic silver of chains

old and weeping from her cuffs.

 

Twice as good and twice as bad

shouldn’t matter under sunbeams.

That broad, motley sweeper never learnt identity.

In all its natural history it never

wondered if it deserved the warmth.

She has to walk the jagged edges

to reach the same door. Indoors

a chasm shaped like a wet slug taunts

with double standards

barely looking when it should

then too much

kisses the laughing palms

of self-assigned gods

splitting into branches, firing her worth

into shapely one note melodies.

Even the single one never mind the many!

Cut from her grip. Then

 

a horn self-fashioned

she lays at her feet.

 

International Women’s Day – Get Involved

Sarah Guerra, Director of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King’s College London shares ways of getting involved in IWD 2022 and reflects on the underrepresentation of men in the EDI field. 


Once again it is International Women’s Day on the 8th March. I will miss this year’s festivities as I will be enjoying a much needed and long-awaited break in the US of A!

Portrait of Sarah Guerra

Sarah Guerra, Director of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at King’s College London.

Their website tell us International Women’s Day is powered by the collective efforts of all. Collective action and shared ownership for driving gender parity is what makes International Women’s Day impactful.

They quote Gloria Steinem:

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” – Gloria Steinem.

This year we are asked to imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

At King’s we have a variety of activity happening. Elevate, in collaboration with the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team are hosting an online event on Tuesday 8th March 12:00-13:00 focusing on the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day – #BreakTheBias.

Add your visions of a more equal world to our International Women’s Day Padlet. Ideas from the King’s community will form the inspiration for a poem which will be recited at the event by recent King’s graduate and poet, Karen Ng.

We will also hear from Aleida Borges, Research Associate at the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, about the institute’s work, as well as her research on women’s grassroots leadership.

You can also unleash your creative side at an International Women’s Day themed Poetry Lunch & Do Session on Wednesday 2nd March, 14.00 – 15.30. Find out more information and register for attendance in person or online.

I have really enjoyed reading the Padlet and look forward to the poem. I also find my thoughts turn to address something that has been on my mind for many years. Something that President & Principal, Professor Shitij Kapur noticed when he arrived at King’s. In short

Where are the men?

On his arrival we organised several listening exercises for him to hear and learn about equality diversity and inclusion efforts and issues across the University.

One with the EDI team. A team that is diverse compared to many at King’s in terms of gender identity, sexual orientation, race and religion – but is also predominantly cis women.

One for those who hold EDI champion positions across the university i.e., chairs of EDI committees, Vice Deans etc. Again, a reasonably diverse set of people but again the vast majority women.

Finally, one with our staff network chairs – a slightly more gender balanced group but still predominantly female.

Why is this?

It is something I notice in so many EDI arenas.

I am a member of the REF equality, diversity and inclusion advisory panel – vast majority women. Similarly, our internal REF EDAP was all female. This is in stark contrast to the wider REF governance bodies internally.

In truth pretty much every EDI event I ever go to is vastly majority female and has a much greater representation of black, asian, minority ethnic, queer and disabled people than in my regular everyday workplace.

How do we change this?  If (and I paraphrase Gloria here) the story of the struggle for equality belongs to no single equality activist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights. If we want to get to that gender equal world, a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.  How do we make the ’together’ part so we can forge women’s equality that includes all people – and particularly the group that is often missing and yet still holds most the world’s power – men?

I am not going to do a long spiel.  My International Women’s Day call/plea to action is to ask all who read this to give me some ideas and thoughts as to how to get men into the room when we talk EDI.

Today I rise! The world needs a change and it starts with me.


International Women's Day Logo

We had our annual celebration for International Women’s Day 2020 on 6 March at King’s. Equality, Diversity & Inclusion were proud to partner with The Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, the student-led King’s Think Tank and Elevate, King’s Gender Equality Network. I particularly loved opening the event alongside Professor Rosie Campbell and listening to Julia Gillard close.

This blog captures some of that to share with those who couldn’t attend.

International Women’s Day, which has been marked since 1911, is normally celebrated annually on 8 March. The day is neither country, group nor organization specific. It belongs to all groups and to all types of women collectively, everywhere. It is a global day for celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. And it marks a call to action for accelerating intersectional gender parity. This year’s theme was equality.

Maya Angelou spoke of International Women’s Day as a day for women to remind ourselves of our female power and, importantly, for men to remember their feminine aspects too. Angelou said that we all have both powers – feminine and masculine – and that it’s up to us to balance these aspects and cherish them.

She wrote this poem to make a change in the world.

The world needs a change and it starts with you.

A black and white photograph of Maya Angelou

Where are you little girl with broken wings but full of hope? Where are you wise woman covered in wounds?

Where are you? Where are you? Where are you?

Today is the day I will not sit still and give in anymore, today I rise.

I am bruised but I will get up and walk again, today I rise.

I don’t care if you ignore my beauty, today I rise.

Through the alchemy of my darkest night, I heal and thrive, today I rise.

I move through the world with confidence and grace. I open my eyes and am ready to face my wholeness as a woman and my limitless capacities. I will walk my path with audacity, today I rise.

I reconnect with the many aspects of myself. I am in awe of the reality I can create. I am a queen, I am a healer, a wise woman, a wild woman. I will rise and be.

I am a rebel I will wake up and fight. I am a mother and I am a child. I will no longer disguise my sadness and pain, I will no longer suffer and complain. I am black and I am white. There’s no reason to hide.

Where are you? Where are you?

I call upon Kali to kiss me to life. I transform my power and anger, no more heartache or strife. The world is missing what I am ready to give, my wisdom, my sweetness, my love and my hunger for peace.

I weep with the trees and the rivers and the earth in distress. I rise and shine and am ready to go on my quest.

Today I rise without doubt or hesitation, today I rise without excuses, without procrastination.

Today I call upon my sisters to join a movement of resoluteness and concern. Today is my call into action, to fulfil my mission without further distraction.

Today is the day, today I will start, to offer the world the wisdom of my heart.

In writing this poem, Angelou was urging us to make International Women’s Day our day and do what we can to truly make a positive difference for women by thinking globally and acting locally. International Women’s Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action, whatever that may look like globally at a local level.

Rosie and Julia in their openings and closings both brought home how gender equality and participation impacts every part of public policy and everyone’s everyday health, peace and security.

During the event, we used Essays on Equality, a new publication from the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, a collection that provides research-informed reflections on the fight for women’s equality, as a discussion prompt. It was truly enriching to wander round the room listening to 70+ women from all over the King’s community and beyond discuss these essays, their personal experiences and perspectives.

Julia talked about the results from a survey carried out by Ipsos MORI and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership of over 20,000 people in 27 countries, the results of which were released that day, on what acceptable behaviour in the workplace is.

Please take some time to look over the essay collection and the new survey information on the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership website.

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