Last week, I was privileged to chair a constituency event to mark International Women’s Day. A packed auditorium of young girls listened attentively to the talented and inspiring women on the panel, all of whom kindly took time out of their busy lives to share their stories of success and, sometimes, struggle, competing in male-dominated professions.
International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated annually on 8 March as a global day focussing on the women’s rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women. This year my team and I decided to use our platform to host a panel of inspiring local women for young girls to hear about their career journeys.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that median hourly pay for full-time employees was 8.3% less for women than for men in April 2022. According to the World Economic Forum, it will take 268 years to close the economic gender gap – clearly, we have a long way to go, making events like these as important as ever. Young people, especially girls, can find themselves under pressure in the judgemental world of social media on top of the challenge of finding their way in the world of work, often steered towards a lower-paid career. Seeing the young folk in the room inspired by the incredible women on the panel was great.
Former RAF Nimrod pilot, Kirsty Harding, talked of motherhood – whilst serving in an active war zone. Freda Newton, who is not only a hugely successful business woman but also a well-respected thought leader in the tourism sector, kindly shared her experiences of building successful businesses and spoke of the trial of surviving a pandemic immediately after a massive investment in her company.
Clare Humphrey, founder of Will to Win, gave the perspective of a life coach, while Danielle Nicolson talked candidly about women and politics. Libby Macdonald, an advocate for fair work in social care and real living wage campaigner, spoke of her experiences in the care sector. Cecilia Grigor gave her insights on building a business in the digital sector.
I want to thank them for sharing their stories to inspire the young audience. After the event, there were many requests to take selfies and follow-up chats, which clearly showed their impact on the young audience. It was rewarding to see inspiring women, inspiring a whole generation of inspiring women.
I also recently held cost-of-living surgeries across the constituency, including in Aviemore. I was grateful to the organisations who joined me at these events to help local folk struggling to make ends meet. If you need help, my team and I are always here to listen and help. You can book a meeting, a call or email me on my website at www.drewhendrymp.scot.
Before I finish, I want to give you a quick update on my It’s Your Money campaign calling on energy suppliers to treat people fairly, especially to stop hoarding customers’ credit balances. Since raising this issue, many people have been in touch to tell me that they have discovered they are in credit, sometimes with sums over £1000. Digging further into this unfairness has exposed a litany of failures and suspect practices. Rest assured, I will continue to press for fair treatment for consumers.