Tomorrow is international women’s day and that means different things to different people. This year it has extra significance for me as I am a Women in PR ambassador and many of the women in my life are facing tough battles.
I have never particularly focused on the fact that I am a woman but as I get older is in coming into sharp focus. I seem to be more aware of whether there are any strong female role models. I see the gender pay gap more clearly in existence. I know that my health issues can be a challenge in the workplace.
When I was growing up I had a huge number of strong women I could look to as role models. My mum for one was creative, innovative and totally individual. She was never afraid to be herself even if that drew quizzical looks from others.
The first teacher to have an impact on me was Mrs Picon at primary school. I think I have traced my desire to be a journalist back to some of the encouragement she gave me. She made writing an acceptable way to pass time or even to make a living.
I remember a philosophy lecturer who could read Ancient Greek who opened my eyes to being a woman seeking knowledge and pushing ahead in an area you were passionate about.
In my early years as a journalist I met many strong women reporters, news editors and editors. They were tough and often no nonsense there to get the job done and to make it in a mans world.
Yet throughout this time the women in the magazines and on the TV (there was no Internet at this time) were only allowed to be in one box. They were either pretty or bookish. They were there to prop up the men. They were focused on looking their best, wearing the right things and finding the right man.
It wasn’t for me.
I had a lot I wanted to do then and I have a lot I still want to do now. I want to encourage young women to reach for the stars to pursue their dreams and to realise they can be whatever they want to be. They need strength, resilience and determination but with those things they can achieve anything.
Time now to put forward the role models that will open people’s minds and open doors.