The Women of the World Festival held an event yesterday at the Southbank Centre to celebrate the Day of the Girl, and guess who was invited?!
Us, guys. It was us.
You might have seen some bits and pieces from the day on our Instagram story @bettycollective – but just so we can all pretend we were there together, here were some of the highlights.
Some 250 girls from schools all over London attended the festival (as well as a lot of excited-looking teachers) and the day kicked off with speed mentoring on the London Eye, where politicians, journalists, athletes and our pal Florence Adepoju from MDMFlow talked to girls about what they might want to do when they leave school.
Next there was a panel of women so inspirational that I swear to god, almost made me cry. To be honest I could probably write a Russian-length novel about how much I admire these women, but my editor has advised me against that and you probably have other things to do with your day. So I’ll just give you my favourite quote from each.
Jude Kelly, founder of the Women of the World festivals and general kicker of arse:
Dream as big as you want.
Frances Morris, first female Director of the Tate Modern:
I hope you will not have to have your careers in the shadows.
Fatima Manji, Channel 4 presenter who was criticised in The Sun for presenting the news in a hijab:
I’m going to tell you a little secret… a tiny part of me thinks ‘oh my god, how am I going to do this?’ but then I remember that I can do this. I deserve to do this.
Whatever makes your heart sing – do that. There’ll be someone who says you’re not white enough or black enough or rich enough or poor enough or fat enough or skinny enough or tall enough or short enough and you say to them, ‘Oh, jog on!’
Chi Chi Nwanok, Double Bassist and Founder and Director of Chineke! Orchestra, who also won Black Business Woman of the Year #likeaboss:
There’s an expression about how when one door closes, another one opens. But I say, when a door closes, you open that door again. It’s a door, that’s what doors do.
Tayla Rae, 15 year old student and Head Prefect at Woodside High School, North London:
As a human, I want to stand up. As a young woman, I want to stand up. As a young black woman, I want to stand up.
After we all dried our eyes and applauded the panel until our hands hurt, we were split into two groups, half going to a workshop to make felt equality badges and the other half going to a workshop with gal-dem, a magazine run by 70 women of colour. The students were asked to make a collage of all the negative and sexist things they could find in gossip magazines and turn them into positive statements.
My favourite was the student who changed the headline, “Jordan sleeps with two men in one week” to “Jordan has a sex life, shut up.”
After lunch, awesome feminist girl band The Tuts played a set to much head banging and foot-tapping in the audience.
The day was rounded off by writer and uber-Shero Caitlin Moran, who talked about the difficulties of becoming a woman:
Ten to 16 is when you change from a child into a woman. At the moment, becoming a woman isn’t a job many people want to apply for, and I can see why. But there are some really amazing things about being a woman.
She read some excerpts from her book Moranifesto and was joined on stage by June Eric-Udorie, the 18-year-old who campaigned to keep feminism on the school curriculum (hands up emoji to you June) and Zareen Roy-Macauley, a spoken word poet who literally gave me chills.
As her parting wisdom to Zareen and June and their incredibly impressive CVs, Caitlin reminded them – and all of us:
You have to go and ask for your future, no one will give it to you.
I left the festival feelings fired up and excited about the future. Gals, it’s up to us to change the world.
Wanna give it a go?