Media Trust’s Women’s Voices event in celebration of International Women’s Day 2020

Posted 11 March 2020

Last Thursday, Media Trust brought together over 100 volunteers from across the media and creative industry with 30 charities that support, campaign and advocate for women and girls, for our fourth annual Women’s Voices event to mark International Women’s Day.

The event, which took place at Google’s Academy London, saw Media Trust carefully connect each of the 30 charities with a team of industry experts that had the combined skills to take on their communications brief. The aim was to help each charity build an effective, impactful and compelling communications plan or campaign.

Uniting the industry

This year’s army of industry volunteers came from a wide variety of backgrounds, from advertising planners, to communication strategist and creatives, from film and content producers, to social media experts and magazine journalists. Staff from some of the UK’s biggest media companies and creative agencies were there in force to roll their sleeves up, including the BBC, BBH, Channel 4, Hearst UK, Edelman, Elvis Communications, MediaCom and Wavemaker, and many more.

With free communications support and advice from some of the biggest names in the industry on offer, Media Trust had an enormous response, with over 100 charities applying for one of the 30 places.

The event was opened by Media Trust’s CEO Su-Mei Thompson who said: “join me in saluting the 30 charities here today – thanking them for the vital work they do from running rape crisis centres and campaigns to end domestic violence, to initiatives that tackle period poverty in the UK.”

She added: “We hope that today provides these charities with ideas, inspiration and strategies to raise the profile of their work and shout about the difference they are making.”

Activism for everyone

Su-Mei was followed by our keynote speaker, Kajal Odedra who is the UK Executive Director of campaigning organisation, as well as author of the book Activism for Everyone. Kajal illustrated how positive change can be achieved through grassroots campaigning. She used the example of the ground-breaking “Stop Taxing Periods” campaign which was launched on by Laura Coryton to challenge the tampon tax that was introduced in 2016, and how sharing the message across social media galvanised the movement.

Kajal also spoke about the power of digital and how it has helped to level out the playing field in today’s society: “The internet is really disrupting the systems and who holds the power and who is allowed to hold the power.”

Feeling suitably inspired after Kajal’s words, the volunteers met their charities and got down to work in their teams. It wasn’t long until the whole workspace was abuzz with creative ideas and energetic discussion.

The charities that attended, although all female-focused, had very different remits and target audiences, from small charities such as Action on Postpartum Psychosis, who wanted support in tackling the stigma surrounding the illness, to international charities like Action Aid, whose brief was to engage more men with their work on the rights of women living in poverty.

The impact

After two-and-a-half hours of brainstorming and strategising, everyone re-grouped for a presentation from three of the charities who shared the ideas and solutions that they had devised with the help of their industry volunteers.

For a tiny charity, the support has been invaluable.

Sarah Norcross, Director, Progress Educational Trust

One of the charities to present was Progress Educational Trust, whose director Sarah Norcross said: “The event has been fantastic; the knowledge and skills of the volunteers was so helpful. For a tiny charity, the support has been invaluable.”

It was empowering to help a charity that does so much for women.

Laura Bedford, Marketing Executive, Channel 4

A number of the volunteers who took part in the event have committed to supporting their charity post-event. Laura Bedford, a Marketing Executive at Channel 4 who was supporting welsh gender equality charity Chawarae Teg, said: “I was unsure what to expect but it’s been so interesting learning about the charity and the communications challenges they face and brainstorming with others to problem solve. It was empowering to help a charity that does so much for women.”


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