International Women's Day Celebration - Part 1.

Today marks another International Women's Day, celebrating all kick assed ladies worldwide! To celebrate i've spoken to a few close friends and taken a moment to appreciate the impact of some of the inspirational women who have influenced and inspired me growing up...

Photo taken of Leanne in Roundhay Park, Leeds, 2014. 

Photo taken of Leanne in Roundhay Park, Leeds, 2014. 

Leanne Watkinson
Creative at LOVE, Manchester

What motivates you to be a successful female in the creative industry?

A sense of achievement for myself. I've always been driven to work hard and strive to be better, not just in terms of the creative industry, but enjoying the work I do definitely helps this.

Who is your top female design influencer?

Probably predictable, but Jessica Walsh (of Sagmeister & Walsh). She's great at what she does, and seems to have a lot of fun doing it. I really like her style – it's bold, intelligent and artistic – and she's a prominent and honest voice, not just on design but on wider matters that we can have an impact on as designers (such as mental health).

Submerging Leanne into a hedge in Roundhay Park, Leeds, 2014.

Submerging Leanne into a hedge in Roundhay Park, Leeds, 2014.

If you could change something in the world for women today, what would it be?

If I could magic up true equality – for everyone, not just for women – I think that would ease a lot of problems and make the world a nicer place for us all.

Final note for all the ladies out there?

Do whatever you want, work hard at it, but most importantly, enjoy it! 
 

Photo of mum taken on a day trip we had together visiting YSP in 2013. 

Photo of mum taken on a day trip we had together visiting YSP in 2013. 

Mary Crook
Retired Civil Servant , Blackburn

My mum, Mary, has been a huge influence naturally on who I am today and as a strong minded, independent woman it goes without saying that she of course deserves a mention in our International Women's Day celebration.

Her favourite broadcaster, Martha Kearney, has presented Radio 4's programme Woman's Hour since 1998 and I can't remember a week from the years I spent living at home before moving away that Women's Hour wasn't pouring out of mums radio (often with the one in the kitchen and the one in her bedroom blaring at the same time, slightly out of sync).

Photo of mum taken on a day trip we had together visiting YSP in 2013. 

Photo of mum taken on a day trip we had together visiting YSP in 2013. 

One thing I couldn't be more thankful for is the freedom that my mother has given my sister and I to explore new opportunities for ourselves and the importance of hard work, believing heavily in equal education and pay. She's taught us to speak out when you hear and see injustice and to stand up for what you believe in and never to remain silent. 

'Bush Submersion' in Roundhay Park, Leeds with Rachel, 2014. 

'Bush Submersion' in Roundhay Park, Leeds with Rachel, 2014. 

Rachel Cook
Senior Account Manager at Thompson Brand Partners (Occasional Singer), Leeds

What does feminism mean to you?

Our society is structurally unequal. Argue as people may, things simply don’t stack up equally between the sexes. Job opportunities, the pay gap, the lack of gender balance at board level - FGM for Christ’s sake… Now, of course there’s an argument to say that this is because we’re biologically unequal; can we really perform the same role if our wombs are ticking away, 24-style, waiting to give us an excuse to disappear from the workplace to raise a child? But feminism is simply about recognising that this imbalance is wrong. And happily that makes a whole lot more of us feminists than you might think (wondering if it’s you? Think that women shouldn’t be overlooked for a job because of their uterus? You’re a feminist. Bravo, my love).

It’s about simply recognising that obviously women deserve to be treated with just as much respect as men. That of course we’re just as smart and capable as men. That in fact we bring a whole different set of skills that will enrich the world we live in; the boardroom, the shop floor, the office - all are better places for the women in them. And so naturally we deserve equal opportunity in every area of our lives. 

Our tits or the fact that we may at some point take maternity leave, or any other bullshit, simply doesn’t change the fact that we are different to men, yes, but certainly not less than them. 

That’s my kind of feminism. 

Who are your favourite female musicians?

I’ll never get over Ella Fitzgerald Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Carole King. Women with something to say and an amazing set of lungs inspired me from my first singing lesson (even if their range was well out of my reach). I learned every lick that Ella could do - thank you MusicZone for you £5 bargains… Today Lianne La Havas and Esperanza Spalding just get me good every time for soul and jazz made sexy.

Photo taken of Rachel from our trip to The Hepworth Wakefield, 2014.

Photo taken of Rachel from our trip to The Hepworth Wakefield, 2014.

If you could change something in the world for women today, what would it be?

I hate to ignore the really big things (Brexit, the courgette crisis, etc), but right now I’m sat arguing about whether or not a man can truly be a feminist whilst also believing in the power of masculinity - and I wish I wasn’t. Because naturally I believe he can - it’s all about equality, man. Ok, so Ewan McGregor has done us all a favour recently with his brilliant refusal to appear with Piers ‘Mr Misogynist’ Morgan… But there’s still an outdated but unshakeable misunderstanding of feminism as being men-hating, penis-bashing, and generally hairy, and therefore impenetrable for men EN MASSE. Sigh. Changing this perception in the world would do us all a lovely favour and help us to skip to the point of fairness much more quickly. 

Final note for all the ladies out there? 

Being a feminist is simply about demanding that women are treated with as much respect as men. That means that it’s not something to apologise for or accompany with a rueful smile. Be out and proud and spread the word. Oh and neither do you need to justify any kind of love of the colour pink, to tell people that you’re ‘not going to burn your bra, promise’ or to insist that you really do shave your armpits… Femininity and feminism can absolutely co-exist. Wear what you like, flaunt those chebs whenever you want (I definitely do) and refuse to believe that this prevents you from being respected as much as your male counterpart. Mammaries don’t preclude your equal ability to do a job, to have respect and, quite frankly, to be awesome. So be proud and sing that feminist song from the hills. Soon enough the rest of the world will join in.

Instagram - @nicecreamcone

Instagram - @nicecreamcone

Stephanie Hardy
Designer, Lyon & Lyon, Sheffield

What does feminism mean to you?

It means knowing that i'm really really lucky to sit on a bus in the morning and my main concern at that moment is that my face looks hairy in the sunlight shining through the windows. Sure, it's pretty lame that society makes us girls ashamed of any fluff, but we need feminism for more than that cliché feminist topic.  It's really not about hairs, it's for those that don't feel safe in their own home or dare walk down their street alone. Racism, homophobia and sexism still exist and they're way more important things to link to the word feminism and to keep talking about right now. 

Who are your favourite female illustrators?

I love Gizem Vural to bits at the moment and i just love how strong Sara Andreasson images are and the women they depict. SO STRONG.

Illustraion by Gizem Vural via - http://www.gizemvural.net/ 

Illustraion by Gizem Vural via - http://www.gizemvural.net/ 

Steph at the Mauds House opening party, June 2016 (Photography Giles Smith).

Steph at the Mauds House opening party, June 2016 (Photography Giles Smith).

If you could change something in the world for women today, what would it be?

There's too much I'm going to steal this line from my mum and say I just want everyone to be happy!

Final note for all the ladies out there? 

Sharing is caring, try hard every day and do you. Just some of my fave word bits to live by.

My Grandma, Eileen McGonagle, relaxing in the sunshine. 

My Grandma, Eileen McGonagle, relaxing in the sunshine. 

Eileen McGonagle
Grandma, 1920 - 2009

This journal entry wouldn't be complete without mentioning the most inspiring woman I have had the pleasure of knowing, my dear Grandma, Eileen. Eileen moved to England from Southern Ireland in 1937 when she was just 17 years old to seek better work opportunities, in fact her first line of work brought her to Gargrave, just 7 miles from our Skipton shop. She was 'in service' so jobs would consist of household chores and nanny duties. Growing up Eileen's role as Grandmother to my sister and I was practically that of a part time mother, we went to her house each day after school for cheese and apple (best snack ever fyi) and we'd chat by her gas fire whilst watching some animal related programme before mum got home from work. 

Eileen's door was always open, she had so much love to share and her generosity to help others found her at the heart of our local Parish. She was a strong shoulder to cry on and never cast judgement for whatever pickles I would find myself in as a girl growing up. If you ever mentioned doing or wanting something she'd always say, 'Please God', as if to say you should never assume it is going to happen without God's blessing. 

Eileen is a hugely missed part of our family and today it'd like to remember all of the memories I'm lucky to have had spending time in the company of such an amazing woman. 

Hattie x