Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

Come and meet the people who made your pants!

Howdy folks!

For absolutely ages, we’ve had an open invitation on our website and a comesee email address to go with it. This has been a big part of my personal ‘we’ve got nothing to hide’ approach to manufacturing.

Well. You’ve been taking it up. A LOT. And I’m a bit worried that our team are starting to feel a bit more like filmstars or exhibits than workers. We could have, easily, had two visitors to every single shift we’ve run in 2012. Imagine if that was your work – and imagine how that impacts on us training in employability.

So, we’re going to have an open day! It will be, very likely, the 17th July, from 10 – 4pm. There will be a small charge to cover lunch, which we will provide. You’ll be able to come and see us, chat to the workers, meet the volunteers, buy some pants, see some being made, ask me questions – all sorts of things!

If you’d like to come please just email hello@whomadeyourpants.co.uk with your the subject line ‘Open Day July 2012’ and we’ll add you to our list and get back to you to confirm it all by the end of May.

Look forward to hearing from you, and meeting some of you – the list is already filling up!

Becky

EDIT APRIL 18th 2012 – Travel tips! Check out http://uk.megabus.com – a train to and from London Waterloo, for example, can cost just £1 each way, plus booking fee. The catch is that you MUST get on the right train, at the right station, and get off at the right one too – but it’s a huge money saver!

EDIT NUMBER 2 May 2nd 2012

We’re going to be offering you the chance to order your pants and then watch them get made right in front of your eyes on the 17th! We’ll likely do a load of colours that use the same colour threads (else we’ll have to be rethreading machines all the time) so start thinking about what colour you’d like!

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We’re going to be at the Vintage Festival 29-31 July, Southbank – Are you?

Hello friends

If you’re London based, you may have seen the ads in the tube stations and all around – there’s a big Vintage Festival at the Southbank this weekend, and we are going to be there swinging our pants as part of the upcycled market. So far the weather forecast looks fantastic, for a large part of the weekend.

If you can make it, we’ve a tiny space in a big marquee which looks to be not far in from the Belvedere Road entrance. See you there? Just follow the pants…. 🙂

http://www.vintageatsouthbankcentre.co.uk

Becky

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WOW – what a great day. What GREAT women.

Hello again everyone

Look at this, it’s a Sunday evening and I’m writing a blog. I’ve had such an amazing time recently that I’ve just got to get it out of my head and onto , well, not exactly paper but you know what I mean

This is all about my day at the WOW Festival – if I try to cover anything else as well it will be pages! http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/women-of-the-world

Yesterday was a truly magnificent day, though long. The itinerary was…

6.15 Up to get the 7.40 train to London (the alarm was set for 6.30 but my darling cats woke me up at 6.15.. sweet, eh?)
7.40 – train, on which I read about Invisible Cows and telescopes
10-11 set up a stall in Royal Festival Hall
11 Head to Artists Entrance of Queen Elizabeth Hall
12-1.15 WOW Bites talks, 15 minute slot for me to talk
1.15 – 7pm SELL SELL SELL

I don’t quite have the words for how I feel about the day. I really had a lovely lovely day and a day like that has been a long time coming – it felt like my reward for the long slog (back to that on Tuesday). It was amazing. Astonishing. Hugely powerful, inspiring, supportive and validating. The longer I work in the women’s sector (that I had no real idea I had moved into when I started this whole thing) the more I love it, the more I want to be part of it, the more I get angry at the rubbish status quo that accepts objectification of women and abuse of them, and the more determined I get to yell and shout and do everything I can, with every sinew, to Make Things Better. Being surrounded by women yesterday, engaged, conscious women, was a delight and a treat. Selling £840 worth of pants was pretty good too, and running out of gift bags and tissue paper the same! I’m enormously proud that I, and we, are part of this and that we are making changes.

So, I got to London and to the RFH and at ten o’clock we got going with set up.. HUGE thanks to the awesome Laura and Clair who gave up most of their Saturday to help me set up, and sell – payment in Welsh Cakes is unusual but seemed to be appreciated! After a minor incident with a bashed hanging rail pole that needed pliers to fix, we were away and the stall looked lovely, pants and bunting hanging up and doing their job of attracting attention. At 11 I rushed over to the Artists entrance, in such a hurry as it turned out that I had to go back and get pants to show off..

But oh me oh my – Artists entrance! Green Room! Bidisha who’s column I do LOVE from the Guardian! Finn Mackay of Reclaim the Night*, Jess Search of BRITdoc, Harriet Boatemaa of the co-op that OWNS Divine Chocolate, Radharani Mitra, the women behind the condom normalisation programme in India, and Brigid McConville talking about maternal mortality and the bizarreness of hospital units being donated and built in areas with no electricity.. and left to rust… I was sharing a stage with women who I felt frankly, dwarfed by.

I did what I do and talked about me and pants and why I do it and I talked, more than I usually do, abut being raped. That’s not to say I described it but I actually said ‘I was raped’ instead of saying ‘I had counselling with Rape Crisis’. The talks were supposed to be inspiring and I really wanted women to see the proof that there really is life after rape and that it doesn’t have to be the end. The whole talk seemed very well received and even before I’d got back to our stall afterwards, people had been there and said they’d come to support because of my talk. So that was good.

The day was pretty non stop after that. We sold out of a few sizes and had some great offers – a woman who is a lawyer has offered remote legal support, a woman who set up a women’s network in the City has offered to introduce me to it and other groups that would like to hear me talk, and I was asked by a number of people for interviews and the like. I was personally chuffed to bits to put a face to the name Esme, to see the Olivia who loves our pants, to have a huge Tamsin Omond hug and to bump into Emma from Pink Stinks. Very happy fun times.

We were sell sell selling all day long and even when we were packing up the boxes to leave we sold more. And then a friend dropped by and bought me a restorative gin and tonic, before another friend arrived with a car to take me and all our kit the 82 miles back to Southampton.

If yesterday is characterised by anything for me, it’s that friendship and women are powerful forces. The whole event was about women and not just the things that so often get discussed – rape, violence, discrimination. It celebrated success and joy and delight and achievement and strength. Friendships bring those things and women have them by the bucket load.

Women of the world – WOW. What a GREAT day.

x

*If you think a march against male violence against women isn’t important or relevant, ask yourself if you’d happily walk home alone, anywhere, at anytime of day or night if you’re a woman. Or if you’d be happy to hear about your sister or partner or daughter or mother or niece doing so. If the answer is no, ask yourself this next – who do we, societally, expect to change their behaviour. The woman? Should she stay home to be safe? Impose a curfew on herself? Or should we expect people, men, to not attack women? With whom does the responsibility for violence lie?)

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Right here, right now, right here, right now..

Good morning all! How are you today? It’s sunny and bright out there and don’t I feel better for it.

Things here at pants HQ are still pressurised and we are very much doing what we call firefighting – just the urgent stuff, nothing else. Della has been reduced to packing my kit for events rather than, oh, managing staff or writing management plans and reports, as we’ve been massively short on woman power. But today feels a brighter day. We’ve a great atmosphere here today – lots of women in the production area,a good number of volunteers, and that elusive sunshine filtering in through the windows.

So, what’s happened since I last wrote? I’ve done a few tiny posts but my last proper entry was the 8th Feb – my desperate oh oh woe post. Thanks so much to everyone who got in touch afterwards – real support and help are invaluable. Thank you. Since then, plenty has happened. We’ve finalised our colour plans for the year and sorted out what colour bows, threads and gussets we need. I’ve started my mammoth events calendar. Through March I have eight separate things to be at, and am working some nights until eleven pm (sob) so there has been a scheduling task to make sure I take the time back and don’t conk out, but then also catch up with Della. If I’m out at events, then out taking time in lieu, I’m not here and it’s amazing how fast Della and I can get disconnected and lose track of what each other is doing.

Our new press assistant April is doing really well, she’s keen and competent and comes to me with lists of questions and also suggested solutions – bliss! We’re putting some press out, hopefully today, as a call for BUMS – we need bum models! We’ve had some good press too – I was very proud to be featured in the South Wales Echo, a newspaper from my childhood! Have a look at these links if you’ve not seen them yet.

http://www.ogunte.com/innovation/featured-women-socinn/324-becky-john-who-made-your-pants
http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/03/01/becky-unveils-her-patriotic-pants-91466-28252876/

We’ve also had out first photos from our new photography assistant. Looking good. I’m excited about getting photos of our new gift sets soon too. They make me so happy! Another volunteer, Aga, has been rifling through the boxes of ribbons we’ve been sent from Lush – they are extras from their gift department and we’re going to turn them into gift wrap for our sets. I want to play…!

We’re starting to get more applications for voluntary work in response to the calls I’ve been putting out. I’ve had a great meeting with Southampton Voluntary Services (long may they continue – I’m personally terrified for them that they will be cut. How the hell are we supposed to have this ‘Big Society’ run by volunteers if there is no support and training for volunteers? My mind boggles…) We’re getting clearer about what we need – we need a minimum of 6 hours a week and a commitment of at least ten weeks. It takes four week for someone to learn where things are and how to do things and it can be a huge drain on Della’s time if she has to constantly support people. We’ve agreed that, in future, we’ll be happy to open up more volunteer roles to people who need us, but right now, we need people who can help us. The reality is, BIg Society watchers, that it is A Very Hard thing to find experienced, competent people who will do the work, unpaid for enough hours to *run* an organisation or activity – they tend to, erm, have jobs, and be busy. Mr Cameron, take note!

What else? Oh! we’ve launched some super smashing splendid pants for St Davids Day and ran a competition about it too – see previous posts – and we’ll announce the winner soon. They are gorgeous and the lace is great quality – it feels nice and strong and supportive without being too weighty. I’m quite demanding about the lace that we take on – it;s easy to get carried away with all the pretty colours but we need it to have certain stretch qualities and it;s best if it’s a certain width as it means less tweaking of patterns.

I’ve been to my very first RSA event and had a lovely time. I’m looking forward to getting more plugged in to their networks and events programmes. The library blew me away – I’m a complete bibliophile and had purposely taken no bag so I could not take loads of books home. I limited myself to two and am going through them with delight.

What else.. I’ve been filmed by Midshires Co-op for a film on ‘why co-ops’, applied for bursaries to hold two co-ops events, been to PURE London, a huge fashion trade show – I love the shuttle buses between the two venue. Old Routemasters! Have had a meeting with another local place about a refugee/co-ops event in summer, appointed a new Committee member, been approached by a newswire, done a volunteering fair at the University of Southampton, started the process of moving our website to a new hosting and development solution (thank you to J who hosted, developed and supported for soooo long) written a reference, caught up with local happenings at the City Council,met Ethiopian and Eritrean women, spoken for the University Feminist Society, arranged to be at the University for two International Womens Day events, written template lists of what I need for different sorts of events, played with bows for colour matching. Busy busy. And we now employ ten women part time, and are training one more. I LOVE that.

If you want to come and see me, I’ll be at a bunch of events in March. Highlights are…

3rd March
Evening sales stall at Fashion on the Age of Austerity at V&A Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green.

7th March 2011 TBC
Evening sales stall and Speaking at a Student Union IWD event Uni Southampton

8th March International Women’s Day
Sales stall, Uni of Southampton, 10-4 with University Feminist Society, selling pants on campus and promoting us.

http://www.teapigs.co.uk will be running a discount code promo and competition to their 16000 strong mailing list 7th March ref IWD.

10-13 March WOW festival
Speaking 12-1 on the 12 March, selling stall all day Saturday

17th, 18th March Responsible Business Event.
We’ll have a stall exhibiting both days and I will be speaking at a seminar for 20 mins on Friday 18th.

Maybe see you there? If not, happy March!

Love

Becky
x

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Our new collection, Prince Charles’ garden and fixing brakes.

Well helloooo everyobody!

It’s been ages since I wrote and so much has happened – again! My last post was.. blimey, the 4th of August! Right, let’s try and address this in a sensible order

After the Guardian article we had a flurry of orders and activity and contacts, all kinds of things were being suggested and talked about – film people, interviews.. it’s died down a bit now, which is a mixed thing. Good that I can get on with other stuff but less good in that we’re -Ta dah!- launched our Aimee collection and now want to start ramping up the publicity stuff .

Fortunately, the ever wonderful Chris Smith of Swarm Communications and another brilliant fashion PR person called Nicola are on the case. I met both of these great people through the Media Trust Media Matchign event, hosted by UnLtd Between them, they are preparing releases for various publications and we’re hoping to get into some of the Seasonal issues of magazines ( I am not using the C word yet, even though I saw mince pies in the co-op the other day)

Our brilliant designer Emma Kidd has been back and a lovely little twist on our Aimee short has been created. It’s sweet and pretty and we’ll be making a limited Seasonal (dammit, nearly used the C word again) range. Same price as ever, just a bit pretty pretty. More on that soon…

My role in whomadeyourpants? is changing as we dvelop and that’s a good but sometimes hard thing. A year ago, I was managing EVERYTHING and doing bits of almost everything. Now the supercalifragilistic expealidocious Della is managing all the stuff that goes on inside the business, and I’m getting more involved in the public face stuff, which is as it should be. We’re absolutely delighted to have been asked to host a workshop in Prince Charles’ Garden as part of an upcyling fashion thingummy curated by Vivienne Westwood. And we are starting to work with the lovely Lush team in Southampton more. I’m off to a meeting tomorrow to discuss being part of an Alternative Freshers Fair, and we’ll be having a pants party with them on the 27th and 28th of November in the Southampton store – come along! Plus I’ve been asked to speak at their Croydon HQ on the 22nd September and am chuffed to bits to be able to meet their head honcho and talk about how they grew and how it has happened for the. I’m really looking forward to it.

Supporting all this change in my role is tricky – I’m used to having to be the sorting our person and now I’m having to learn to not do that and to point people to other people. I am no longer Ms Fix It. SO I’m hoping to get some mentoring from a woman called Tara who did ace work on our business plan wit me, for nothing, all as a volunteer. There is a fund available to support this so I’m hoping to be successful.

How can I not talk about the photo shoot! I was 34 on the 12th August and did not celebrate by shooting grouse but by getting all gussied up in a corset and having a house full of knickers, pop tunes, cake and lovely kind models, stylists, assistants, designers and photographers. Mikey Palmer really took one for the team by coming and taking the photos, the fab fab fab Heidi from http://www.cherryonthecake.org.uk made us some gorgeous cupcakes as props and the sun even shone for a bit. It was a really great day, we did some inside my house and some in the garden, with a nice little tea party theme emerging. Some of the pics are up online at http://www.whomadeyourpants.co.uk now, the one on the front page of Leanne is so gorgeous. Other pics will be used for press and still others will go onto the site in the near future. We had great fun getting made up and posing and with comments like, ‘it’s the most fun you can have with your trousers off and your pants on’ from the models, I was very reassured that they’d had a good day. The cakes were delicious and the whole day – though knackering – was a brilliant way for me to spend my birthday.

After the 12th, I was shattered, Della was shattered and with it being Ramadan and the women not wanting to come to training, we decided to have a proper shut down. We were closed from the 19th to the 31st August for a much needed break. I ended up having to work for parts of about half the days I was off, and Della did two full days as well, but it was all about stuff we felt couldn’t be ignored. I think we both feel we had a reasonably good break, and I’m enormously grateful to my lovely PA Madalina who fielded phone calls and emails for me while writing her dissertation!

I’ve had a chance to do a few more ‘me’ things recently, which has been lovely. I went on a bike maintenance course provided by Sustrans http://www.sustrans.org.uk so I can change my own brakes (even though it would be easier with three hands, I can do it) and things now, and went to the lovely Beautiful Days Festival. Last Saturday I also went to the local Pulse Festival. I know Olly who is the bass player in subgiant, the band who headlined – he’d offered us a stall there but we weren’t in a position to accept it this year so I went along to support anyway. I caught up with the Southampton Lush team and Olly and sincerely hope that Sunnyfields host it again next year so there can be another one. It was brilliant. It wasn’t exactly and entirely a non work day – I took pants to show people and spent some time with a colleague from Community Action Hampshire – but pants are my life now and so it was still happy lovely fun times.

Our volunteering team has been shifting and changing a bit recently. A number of our volunteers are students and do the academic year affects availability. We’ve still got Aga, Debs, Madalina and Maryam coming on site regularly, but are about to start advertising for new roles. We’ve worked out that in addition to the above we need…

PA (5 x half days per week)
Office Manager (we need this full time but it can be shared between two people)
Admin/HR/Dispatch/Housekeeping (we need the equivalent of two people full time but this can be made up of lots of people doing various shifts. Minimum commitment 2 x half days per week per volunteer)
Fund-raising prospecting (6-8 hours per week)
Sales/Supplier prospecting(6-8 hours per week)
Web test and content upload (7 hours per week)
Systems Administration (3 hours per week)

there may be more but these are what we know for sure now. If you’ve some time you’d like to offer, we’d love to hear from you! All positions are onsite at our accessible Southampton premises, and there is nearly always cake. Email us at time@whomadeyourpants.co.uk

I think that’s about it for now. We’re building stock levels of our lovely Aimee pants as even through Ramadan, some of the women have come in. The pants really are pretty just look here

I’ll try to write before another month is out but next week I’ll be at Clarence House and the week after at the Lush event. It will be soon, promise!

Hope you are all well and staying dry!

Becky

x

(oh my god – I have made clicky links! Yay me!)

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Pants are starting to happen to meeeeeeee (sorry Lemonheads)

Goodness me, doesn’t time just fly!

It’s been weeks since I last wrote, and things have been lively to say the least. I took a week off when I realised I’d been working myself silly, something I promised myself this business would never be about, and now I’m back, things look much clearer and very exciting. And coming in to work this morning it found we have out very own marked parking space was a happy thing to start the day with!

So, where to start I can’t write that without hearing Mary Poppins say ‘let’s start at the very beginning’, but I tend to start at the end as that’s the easiest thing to remember. The business plan, which has been hanging over me for ages, is very nearly finished and I hope to send it off in support of some longish term funding applications next week. Rob and Tara at Wessex Partnership have been hugely helpful in pulling it all together and making me tip out what’s in my head onto paper. Happily, we have been awarded £500 from Southampton City Council to pay them for part of the work we hope to do with them. I’ve worked out how much we need for three years and a friendly helpful accountant is forecasting our cashflow and stuff for three years too. So far, the figures look really positive. Hope so!

The higher level English class has finished! I can’t believe it. So now, no matter what happens, we have done some good, for which I am very, very pleased. The sewing training is scheduled to start on the 7th September, and we are scheduled to have the premises ready by the 19th August, in plenty of time. I think that the day I sit at my desk in an office next to the machine room, opposite the staff room, I’ll not be able to stop smiling. And not just because the 14 chairs I currently pick my way through will be in the staff room and not my office! Timelines so far suggest the cutting table to be built (in situ) and me to move 13-14th August, sewing machines to be delivered and set up 17th August, wiring to be done 18th, 19th August. I shall celebrate on the 19th!

Fabrics have been delivered, and I have found some darling little bows and things. June and Ria are busy making up some samples – so there will be pants very soon! We have had a fantastic opportunity given to us by Skillfast – they’ve offered us space on their stand at MODA in the NEC 9-11 August, which I gladly accepted! The samples will be hung up on a little washing line, like our website, we’ll have a pop up banner and flyers. The flyers are just gorgeous, really bright and fun. I’m quite nervous, not least because I am going there straight from my leave, without going home, and will then have to trek back via London with a suitcase and banner and all sorts. I’m sure there will be plenty comedy moments, especially if I don’t change out of my heels first!

We’ve been at another event recently too, in the Co-ops area at the Mela in Southampton. We sold a few T shirts and have a simply fabulous cake made which we auctioned off. A lovely women called Marilyn got in touch and asked if she could make us a cake, and she did – it had our logo on and looked brilliant. She has also offered to make us a brilliant fun cake for our launch in December – I’ve seen one she has done, with loads of little pants covered bottoms on it. It’ll raise a smile for sure!

The website is being rejigged, and a shop is being built. There’s an amazing team of people involved, and I’m delighted that the project management of that is out of my hands for now as I am not technically minded, and it’s best left to those who are I think.

I can’t for the life of me think what else is going on, but things are as busy and productive as ever. I’ve not even let a home based heating systems disaster (radiator leak bad, insurance money good, and I get to have nice sanded varnished floors. When I have sanded and varnished them) get in the way. It’s strange to think that within a few weeks I won’t be in this temporary office but will be in a proper real permanent office, and we’ll have a physical address and a post box and machines and things. There will be photos when we do, lots and lots of photos. Oh, and I’ll have broadband again! Hooray!

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There’s no discrimination in England, is there?

It seems ages since I last wrote, which is probably because it is. So this post seems set to be huge – hope you stay til the end!

As usual, ongoing work is blighted by recalcitrant technology. The internet finally came online on Friday last week, and on Monday I foolishly though I could install a Windows update and carry on as normal. Instead, it got stuck in a crash/reboot cycle. The computer is now back with the lovely folk at Jamie’s Computers http://www.jamiescomputerclub.org.uk for some TLC and I hope to have it back at work soon.

But anyway. Lots has been happening. There are rumours that Chumbawumba are going to donate a track to the album, which comes after the wonderful Subgiant (who I can’t wait to see on Saturday), legendary New Model Army and beautiful lyricist Joolz all offered tracks too. I’m stunned, thrilled and hugely grateful for all this and I feel it only fair to say a big shouty out thank you to the wonder that is John for garnering this support. He is the man who knows everyone.

Other good things happening are that my super talented and number minded bookkeeping friend and the pants Treasurer have met, and I can heave a sigh of relief as they between them will take the financial reporting and management on. This is not my strong point at all and it’s great to know that two such capable people have it in hand. Oversight of production, design and sourcing machinery is also looking very likely to go into the hands of an industry expert, which is brilliant. All this stuff being taken off my plate means I now have time to do things like writing policies *yawn* and proper business plans, and yet more funding applications. I bumped into a contact in Regeneration the other day, and we’re going to get together soon, and I’ve been told about some new funds to try. This is timely. After the end of March my teeny tiny salary runs out again and I’m hoping someone supports it (there are bids in) as otherwise I’m going to have to go and get a job, and I like this job so very much.

Today, I’m just back from a brilliant conference at the Human Rights Action Centre, home of Amnesty International, a place I’ve wanted to go since AIUK moved there some years back. The Women’s Centre and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, hosted, ‘Seizing the Opportunites of CEDAW: Developing a women’s sector strategy for 2011’. They launched a report last night, nicknamed ‘Bread and Roses’ in homage to striking textile workers in the early 1900s, who it is claimed, appealed for wages not just for bread, but for roses too – food for the body and the soul. The launch was great, and I was grateful to my friend Sam for providing free sleeping space between then and today. Great mates are great.

The conference was amazing, full of dynamic, passionate women, all doing great things, including representatives for various Rape Crisis centres, women I will endorse and advocate for and praise as long as I have breath in my slightly faulty lungs. Until a few weeks ago, I have to admit, I’d never heard of CEDAW – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is one of my touchstones, but CEDAW is absolutely going to be another. For more information on it check here http://un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/ but it’s basically a UN Convention, adopted in 1979, which legally binds those who ratify it to end discrimination against women at a national governmental level. It covers things like sexual violence, trafficking, equal pay, and something called ‘substantive equality’ which was a real penny dropping moment for me, the moment when I had words to describe what I think we don’t have. That we have policies which are gender neutral, rather than gender specific, and therefore take no account of the needs of women, means that women do not have ‘substantive equality’. Equal does not mean the same – two half pints equal one pint but they are not the same. Men and women are not the same, and need different things, but ought to be treated equally. Examples given included pregnancy, which to the best of my knowledge, is only experienced by women, and childcare arrangements, which affect many more women adversely than men. The commitment to equality of access to employment and economic empowerment means little to women who could do a job, but can’t get childcare – this means that in real terms, they do not have the same access to opportunity.

Funding is a massive issue – services that save lives like Rape Crisis saved mine do not produce ‘value for money’ but are invaluable. I cost Rape Crisis approximately £4,500 – they’ll not make profit out of me but the value I now hope to be able to turn back around and pass on to other women is massive. We heard that women’s services still, and it seems, increasingly, have to justify their women only status – there is little understanding that the value of certain services to the users depends on their being women only. Sexual health and breast examinations are things many women want to discuss or undergo with female heath professionals, as are experiences of sexual violence, honour violence and forced marriage. I could go on and on about all the things that enraged me as my eyes were even further opened but I’m going to stop before my brain pops.

There are successes – such as how the excellent Southall Black Sisters used CEDAW provision to retain funding for the vital work they do. And how San Francisco succeeded in getting CEDAW written into city Law – even though the USA refused to ratify the Convention at all. On top of this there were countless statistics and examples, and w it felt like a whirlwind tour of what is a fantastic piece of legislation. We talked about how we might use CEDAW in our own towns and cities. And I’ve a few ideas on that. But most of all it was inspiring, and fun, and a jam packed day of learning and talking and meeting. And lunch was way better than the one at the College of Fashion!

We had some very senior expert speakers including Violeta Neubauer ( I hope that spelling is correct, it’s taken from the CEDAW page) who is on the CEDAW committee at the UN. As a left, I had a proper comedy moment. There was a cab waiting for Violeta, with her name on a card in the window. I knew she was still talking but was on her way, so I told the driver, as he was looking a bit vexed. And he asked me what was going on there today. I replied that it was around discrimination against women, to which he said, ‘What’s that for then, we’ve got none of that in England. Do you really think we do?’

Bearing in mind the controversy surrounding the suggestion that we can’t afford Equal Pay in a recession, I’d say we do. And the ‘have your say’ page on Rape Crisis Scotland’s brilliant campaign http://www.thisisnotaninvitationtorapeme.co.uk/ site shows clearly how responsibility is still assigned differently to men and women – we can never claim to have real equality, or have ended discrimination against women, when people believe that it is a woman’s fault if she is violently attacked. No other crime is routinely blamed on the victim.

Rant over. I do plan to write more often, and at less length, when the internet/computer/technological provision actually provides. Until then, thanks for reading!

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