Celebrating Women’s Voices on International Women’s Day 2021

Posted 9 March 2021

On International Women’s Day, Media Trust brought together 30 charities that support, campaign and advocate for women, girls and those who identify as female, with over 120 media and creative industry expert volunteers at our fifth annual Women’s Voices event.

The aim of Women’s Voices is to help our participating charities develop an effective and impactful communications plan or campaign, with the help of our media industry volunteers. This year, due to Covid-19, the event took place virtually and all the magic happened in breakout groups on Zoom!

Stronger voices for a more equal society

At Media Trust, we believe that giving everyone a voice is how we’ll get to a more equal society. This is why we work in partnership with the media and creative industries to give charities, under-represented communities and young people a stronger voice.

All 30 participating charities campaign, champion, advocate for or support women and girls and those who identify as female. They included Pause who works with women who have experienced, or are at risk of, repeat removals of their children into care, Future Female Society who is working to make Ipswich the best place to be a women or girl in Suffolk and National Ugly Mugs who work to end violence against sex workers.

Our 120 plus volunteers from across the media and creative industries represented a wealth of knowledge and experience in different disciplines from digital marketing to brand development, and audience segmentation to content strategy. Media Trust’s long standing industry partners who had staff volunteers at the event included BBC, Bloomberg, Dentsu International, Edelman, Hearst, Google, iProspect, MediaCom, The Telegraph, Sky, Verizon and many more.

Opening the event, Media Trust CEO, Su-Mei Thompson reminded everyone that International Women’s Day is an opportunity to call for change, to celebrate acts of courage and determination by women and women’s groups, and to highlight the disparity and gender inequality that still exists.

The past 12 months have hit women hard at work and at home. Domestic violence charities have reported record levels of abuse; women have had to juggle working from home with homeschooling and housework; women have been the first to be furloughed and to lose their jobs. And the situation is even worse for low-income women, women of colour, and disabled women. Going forward, we need to make sure women’s voices are heard if we really want to build back better and to reform our education system, to get more funding for social care and child support, and to take decisive climate action to save our planet. That’s why we urgently need to strengthen the voice of the charities like the ones represented here today.

Stories that need to be told and heard

Our keynote speaker this year was Onjali Q. Rauf, founder of NGO Making Herstory, and Sunday Times bestselling author. Making Herstory works to end the abuse, enslavement and trafficking of women and girls both in the UK and beyond.

Onjali took us on a journey through her childhood and her assertion, aged 7, at the dinner table that she was a feminist after discovering it meant fighting to let women do and have what men could do. That moment of discovery set her on a path to highlight the plight of women, working for various human rights charities. But all that changed at 4:41pm, on 5 July 2011.

Mumtahina Ruma Jannat, Onjali’s beloved aunt, had her life taken by a man she had been desperately trying to escape from for over six years, after the system failed her. Onjali channeled her grief into launching Making Herstory, which started off as a book club where she could talk about feminism and women’s rights with friends and friends of friends and raise funds for a woman’s shelter in her aunt’s name.

Nine years later and Making Herstory has done incredible work, including helping get women onto trains to safety; securing hotel rooms for rape and abuse survivors in parts of the country where shelters have no more beds to offer and supporting gender-focused data sources.

Stories that all of us - no matter who we are, have a duty to find, pay homage to, respect and unleash on this world of ours - not just for the sake of our future girls and fellow women - but also, for the world of men too.

The impact

After Onjali’s inspiring keynote, our teams of charities and volunteers went into breakout groups for two-and-a-half hours of brainstorming, strategising and putting together a comms action plan for each charity to take forward.

Everyone then regrouped to hear from three of our participating charities who shared the ideas and solutions that they had come up with in their breakout groups.

Thank you to my wonderful team of volunteers. It was great to get a fresh set of eyes on my charity Black2Nature. You were all so helpful, and I will be going away with lots of ideas to action.

Ayesha Ahmed-Mendoza, Black2Nature

Thank you so much to everyone at Media Trust and, especially, to everyone in our group. This has been totally awesome, and we have learned so much that we will definitely put to good use, which, ultimately will save babies' lives.

Jane Plumb, Group B Strep Support

Many of our industry volunteers who took part have committed to supporting their charity beyond the event.

Wow, time really flew by. A great way to spend a Monday and especially International Women’s Day. Loved my group and experience - lots of great ideas and wonderful energy. Thank you for organising this!

Silvia Marinescu, Strategy and Insights Manager, Dentsu International

Volunteer your time and skills with a charity via the Media Trust Volunteer Platform.

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