Yesterday I had the real privilege of giving the keynote speech at an International Women’s Day event hosted by international law firm Taylor Wessing. The event was one of a week’s activities the firm – which has been a long-time supporter of Whizz-Kidz’s work – was hosting to celebrate International Women’s Day, and focused on the importance of the third sector and the corporate sector working collaboratively to achieve change.
I was joined by a panel of fantastic, inspirational women from across the sector; Janet Lyndsay from Wellbeing of Women – who spoke about the continuing taboos surrounding women’s health; Ela Mahsoori, from Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network – who shared her own story of becoming a refugee, and the hugely important work of the LRMN; Chloe Haplin, from Future First – who championed the importance of role models for women; and Liv Taylor, from the Sophie Hayes Foundation – who described the vital work they do in helping rebuild the lives of survivors of trafficking.
In hearing their stories, and the stories of the people their organisations support, a key theme emerged; the importance of collaboration. Though organisationally our goals are very different, what was apparent was that if women champion each other, support each other, and continue to be bold for change, then there is no limit to what can be achieved.
I look at what Whizz-Kidz has achieved in 25 years, at the incredible, successful women who – with our support – have gone on to achieve incredible things, and feel such enormous pride. We asked a few of our inspirational young Ambassadors; Lexi, Hattie, Georgia and Jessica, as well as our wonderful, BAFTA-nominated superstar Ruth Madeley, to tell us what advice they’d give their younger selves. The videos are every bit as inspirational as you’d imagine; and I’d urge you all to have a look if you haven’t already!
International Women’s Day is a timely reminder of the unique opportunity, and responsibility women in leadership have to be bold on behalf of young women with ambition and, more importantly, to help them be bold, to believe in themselves, and to aim high.
The other big news of this week was of course Philip Hammond’s first Budget. Whizz-Kidz welcome the Chancellor’s announcement to provide up to £4,000 a year in childcare support to working parents of disabled children; we know this will make a positive impact on many of the families we work with.
However, I was surprised that the Chancellor gave no mention at all to disabled people’s benefits in his speech – particularly in light of the ongoing outcry surrounding Personal Independence Payments. This is an issue we clearly will need to keep a close eye on, and I will continue to keep you updated through this blog.
There’s been particular outcry about the Chancellor’s announced changes to National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed. We know that a lot of working disabled people are self-employed, and we are concerned about the impact this move may have on their incomes.
My normal two-weekly blog will resume next week, when I can update you on a very exciting event we’re hosting in partnership with our friends and PwC. Stay tuned.
Until next time.