In normal times we push our way onto the tubes and buses, compete for jobs and school places without even talking to our neighbours or fellow travellers. Yet behind this independent, competitive façade there are times when we come together to help those in need; bringing food, medicine or companionship to those that are isolated and showing we’re not all ruthless, selfish loners in a Darwinian economic soup
I’ve always loved water. I have childhood memories of outdoor unheated pools and my long suffering father forced to accompany me to keep me safe. Recollections of rushing into the Irish Sea every day on holiday and emerging blue, shivering and covered in goose bumps to then hide behind a windbreak and chafe heat back into my limbs.
What are we doing in reading Rapunzel to our sons and daughters? A girl who was so conditioned to focus on her looks that she fails to realise that she could use her own hair to abseil down the tower and escape to freedom. So much for realistic life expectations and good role models.
Stay on the path and don’t talk to strangers is the advice from little Red Riding Hood’s mother as she sends her off on another elder care errand, a little basket of cakes dangling from her arm.
There are so many women who have inspired me, and made my life and career a little richer. So thank you to all those feminists who stood up and challenged those in power enabling me to study, to work after marriage, to own property and to vote. Thank you to those who endeavoured to get me equal pay. Thank you to those who are making it clear that sexual harassment is not OK.
According to UNESCO estimates, 130 million girls between the age of 6 and 17 are out of school and 15 million girls of primary-school age will never enter a classroom. What’s taking us so long to get this right; when people like Mary Wollstonecraft was arguing as early as 1791 that women were deserving of the same fundamental rights as men and were not just ornaments to society or property to be traded in marriage?