The Women’s History Timeline…

The girls decided they wanted to do something for International Women’s Day, and I guess because of the library have been thinking more about inspiring women of late. So they suggested that we all come to the meeting (myself as well) with a woman that inspired us. We each chose a decade/era so that no one would have the same woman or group of women, and we came prepared to share about our women. I think the idea was to dress up as well, but none of us ended up doing that!

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They also decided to use their research  to create a timeline of women’s history. It was by no means all inclusive – there’s just so much we could add. All our chosen women were of course main features, and from some of the books which they had requested and arrived in time for that meeting like Rad Women Worldwide had female historical figures they decided to add.

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We got distracted by putting our library together the night they planned to do this, so it was only last week that it finally got finished. I left them to it, chatting to girls about their Look Wider books, and lending out my laptop to some of the girls who were taking turns to use it to write blog reviews on books and films they read/watched over the Easter holidays.

Sometimes I worry with activities like this that it might be too much like schoolwork. But as it came from them, I didn’t get concerned about it. And actually it’s inspired me more to get back involved with sharing women’s history and making it better known. The simple fact is we don’t get these history lessons in school. They also seemed to be invested in the project, and satisified with the end result.

 

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The Inspiration Library

You might remember a while ago, I mentioned how the Ranger group decided to start their own library. Before last summer, we purchased an ikea bookcase which the girls built (and decorated). They call it the ‘Hawaiian bookshelf’.

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They requested a couple of books and films last year – we had two film nights to watch the DVDs we purchased for the library when they came out. And then they got distracted by other activities…until we asked the question ‘If you could change anything about the world…’ and every single member wrote down equality for women and equality in general. The girls had struggled to come up with more than about 3 or 4 book/film suggestions for the library at the start. Over the last month, I’ve taken a pile of books I had for other projects and from my own bookshelves to meetings to let the girls look through, and from there the girls have also given me more for their list of what they’d like to be included. At least one I think went off and did some book buying research! We have a mixture of fiction and non-fiction books and some films with the idea that the content of them will help us learn and think about our stance on a variety of social issues.

This will hopefully help them fulfil requirements for their Personal Values octant.

They have scheduled a Book club night for our last meeting of this term, and the hope is to take away a book or film over the Easter Holidays and do a little review of it for their blog. They also want to finish their International Women’s Day activity – as they got a little distracted last time looking at the books. Particularly Rad Women Worldwide (a new book published very recently).

Suffragette (film)
He Named Me Malala ( film)
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai*
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Rad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Oranges in No Man’s Land by Elizabeth Laird
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla
The Shed That Fed A Million Children by Magnus Macfarlane Barrow
The Imitation Game (film)
Inside Out (film)
The Help (film)
The King’s Speech (film)
Perks of Being A Wallflower (film)
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
How To Start A Revolution by Lucy-Anne Holmes

On the wish list:

How The Girl Guides Won The War by Janie Hampton
The Unseen World by Liz Moore
The Atlas of Women in the World by Joni Jaeger
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Girl Up by Laura Bates
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterley*
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

*both of these books are the Young Adult versions, mainly as I found the original I Am Malala book quite difficult to follow myself as it seemed like it had been edited poorly, I suspect in a rush to publish her story. My friend who studied Children’s Literature and Literacy (and a fellow bookworm) also had a similar struggle when reading the book when it first came out. I don’t know if the latest adult edition has corrected to rectify some of the grammar and sentence structures to make it more readable. It may be we will get both the original and young adult editions depending on feedback from the Rangers.

There are some books I suggested or took down in the piles that I was surprised they didn’t want (such as Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series, which was very popular with my younger sister and some of my ‘graduated’ Rangers). They actually told me they really didn’t want certain books, and most of the time it is because they now hate them having been forced to analyse every inch of their pages at school. Ugh. It’s a real shame but I also understand. I’m constantly having to remind them not to put that pressure on when they have decided on a project like this…that we are not marking the work they’ve put in, it doesn’t have be done any particular way. The whole point is learning and enjoying the process of thinking, discovering and sharing that with others.

We shall see how this idea develops…they are certainly getting me reading more!

Thanks to my friends from the Women of Colour Feminism Conference, A Mighty Girl website and The Book Fairies for giving me some suggestions of books to take along when the girls were struggling for book ideas at first.

I am a feminist

There was a post on a facebook group the other day with a comment saying how they didn’t think Girlguiding should be a ‘feminist’ organisation. I honestly wanted to scratch my own eyes out to un-see that comment. However, the next day I watched an incredible speech given by a young woman who has helped bring two of my favourite characters in literature to the cinema screen through her acting talents. That young woman is, of course, Emma Watson.

 

Emma is working with the UN as their Goodwill Ambassador for Women, and this speech above was at the launch of the UN’s ‘He For She’ campaign.

This summer, I had the pleasure of attending events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival where I got to meet the founders of the Vagenda blog, Holly Baxter & Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, and writer & author, Melissa Benn. All three ladies had smiles and compliments when they found out I was a Girlguiding leader. However during both events there were women and men who said they didn’t want to call themselves feminists ‘even though they believed in gender equality’. Because the media has done a grand job at making us believe that feminism is about oppressing men – it is not. And I loved that Emma addressed that in her speech to the UN.

Girlguiding recently launched their Girls Matter campaign. I won’t say I agree literally with all their points (my main concern is that I’d never want a woman or man to be in a role to fill a quota – I simply wish that we always have the best people for the job, however I think that inequalities in representation of all people need to be addressed in our political and economic arenas). I’ve had members of the units I’m part of report to me some of the sexual harrassment they’ve experienced at school and I still have strong memories of the struggle we had to find stories of famous women in the media that were about who they were and the inspirational things they do/have done, rather than their looks.

It says a lot about people’s attitudes to gender equality when you see the appalling backlash Emma Watson has faced since the speech went public, and how it was reported in the media. Some journalists wanted to talk more about what she was wearing while making the speech rather than discuss the content of her speech. The same week, pictures of Gloria De Piero were shown in the papers discussing her outfit more than her speech at the Labour Party conference.

We still have a long ways to go folks!

So yes, I am a feminist. I believe in gender equality. I believe that the world was not created to have this imbalance. And yes I will speak out against inequality of any kind.

Girls matter. Women matter.

And the world needs us as well as the men.

It’s not about one or the other. 🙂