We are delighted to be supporting Womankind Bristol as our 2022 charity of the year.
Womankind is a mental health charity, run by women for women. Every year they help thousands of women to improve their mental health and well-being.
Now is an important time to support this charity, women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and Womankind have seen an increase in demand for their services. We are really looking forward to working with them throughout this year to help continue this vital support for Bristol women.
We are pleased to share a guest post from Jacki Hill-Murphy, Patron of Womankind Bristol on breaking the bias, the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day 2022.
Breaking the Bias
I expect there are many reading this that would like to thank Professor Sarah Gilbert for designing the Oxford vaccine, I would go as far as to say she could have saved my life when I caught coronavirus last year. And when the world united to tackle climate change at COP 21 last November who remembered Eunice Newton Foote, an American scientist who died in 1888, inventor and women’s rights campaigner who was the first scientist to have experimented on the warming effect of sunlight on different gases? In essence the first climate change pioneer!
We know that women are amazing, summiting peaks for over a century, exploring space, becoming world leaders, breaking boundaries and world records but why haven’t we broken the bias and tackled the very large elephant in the room, the large gender gaps that remain across the world?
This parity means that some women in society are still treated like second rate citizens and denied the respect they deserve, the kindness and love that a relationship should bring, the support with children they need and the right to live without fear or intimidation.
Sadly it would seem that women are still worse off than men - because they are women. Why are we still living with this? It’s stupid and it doesn’t need to be this way - particularly as this discrimination harms us all in the end. Sadly, early evidence suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a regressive effect on gender equality too.
Is misogyny a canker that we can’t stop growing? Because if we could all function equally in society the world would undoubtedly be a better place. Women’s equal participation, their intelligence, expertise and leadership qualities are vital to stability, to help prevent conflict and promote a sustainable, caring society. Gender equality is what we need for a better world, but sadly its all a question of power. The world is male-dominated and has been for a millennia.
Thankfully we have developed support networks across the world to help women caught up in this disparity and its inevitable side effects. Global or local, these networks stand up for women, support them and allow their voices to be heard. Three decades ago I desperately needed someone to listen to me while unable to deal with personal difficulties. I so wish that a women’s helpline was available to me then, that was why I was so keen and honoured to become Womankind’s patron.
It brings me reassurance to know that women in Bristol are able to connect with women who will listen and support them from a trauma-informed perspective. In the ten months leading up to January this year their team has handled nearly 5,000 telephone calls. These are not easy calls, these are from women who are perhaps disclosing domestic abuse or sexual violence, particularly rape and assault, including many from university students and teaching staff.
How satisfying to know that through their interaction with Womankind women are feeling stronger and more able to cope. Just talking to someone who listens and understands has a huge impact on a woman’s wellbeing and feedback to Womankind is testimony to this. A very high percentage of women who received help have reported that they felt less isolated afterwards and felt heard, others said they felt much better to cope with the stresses and difficulties that they were going through and others reported feeling less troubled by their thoughts and feelings.
Overwhelmingly their feedback rated Womankind highly and I want to celebrate the work of their staff and volunteers and all the other organisations nationally and internationally offering therapy to women to help them to lead better lives.
Ultimately the renewed wellbeing of their service users will ripple out to us in the wider society, because renewed confidence in a woman leads to her fulfilling her potential and ambitions that the world will benefit from.
My love goes out to everyone who has used the services of Womankind and those who help make their work possible. I wish you all the basic human rights of safety, happiness and liberty. Together we can break the bias.