Sunday, 10 March 2013

Women, twitter and challenging us all to do better.

Thanks to Nancy at Nancy's Point for this great quote
Women in Kenya heading to vote this week.
Its been a week when I have seen the impact of some really special women.  But it didn't start well from that perspective. I noticed a flurry of activity about a fundraiser on twitter that had the hashtag of #hundredhooters. Now I have deleted most of my rant as I know at heart it is well intended so I will just say, please , please think about all the issues that have been raised this week around international women's day.

Women across the world are a long way from experiencing equality and this kind of activity is not empowering ...just demeaning. So long as women think this is ok then how can we expect issues of women's place in society to be taken seriously.  I was shocked to learn  that women from across the world aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria combined. It's down to us  to do everything we can to tackle this. We need to demonstrate that we are serious about ending violence against women and girls. And to provide better support for the survivors of abuse and challenge sexism when we encounter it.

I have joined The Woman's Room and entered my name in the list of women with experience or expertise. This was set up to challenge the BBC and other media to ensure that women's expertise is sought as well as mens. It was a news article on breast cancer that provoked this. Only men had been asked to provide their opinion. Given the gender issue and the fact that many women ,unsurprisingly , have expertise and opinions in this terrain, this -rightly in my view -provoked outrage.  So go on women join up and stop thinking I'm not good/experienced/whatever enough......just do it!http://thewomensroom.org.uk/

And in this week alone I witnessed the power of the informed female advocate in the monthly European tweet chat. Marie of @JBBC from  Dublin and I have started this very tentatively to enable women in Europe to join to discuss issues around breast cancer-#BCCEU. We have started small but already have had some great chats. This week it was on whats new in breast cancer research. I had asked a former colleague who leads the research team in Breakthrough Breast Cancer, the fab Dr Julia Wilson, if she would want to take part. She sent her first tweet the day she joined the tweet chat....a brave woman indeed. Summarise answers on genetics and dormancy in breast cancer in 140 characters and you will grasp the enormousy of the challenge. She was fantastic , communicating complex science with clarity and sensitivity to her audience. Take a bow Julia! And the questions were wide ranging from deeply personal to internationally challenging. Providing richness to the chat were the experienced and informed advocates from the US #BCSM group. They have an amazing chat every Tuesday evening but its 2 am our time so aside from reading the transcripts it's hard to take part from here. But join if you can, it's influence and information is impressive.

I do LOVE the way twitter connected this community of interest who not only were engaging their intellects on this complex disease but also their compassion for each other. When an exchange happened that spoke of the possibility of exploring tissue banks for metastatic disease I got goose bumps....in this way the future could change. Perhaps not necessarily through that particular idea but in the exchange of experience and drive for change. And it was Julia who summed it up for us all when she said towards the end "keep challenging, keep asking us to do better...we can end this devastating disease". If you have an interest and want to read the transcript here it is. And we will be asking Julia back!
http://www.symplur.com/healthcare-hashtags/bcceu/

And finally and in my reasons to be heartful this week, I want to acknowledge the other great women in my life. My Mum, my sister, my daughter and step daughter, step granddaughters, my sister in law, my nieces and friends of all ages. You all make my life richer. Just imagine if the world could truly embrace all that you as women have to offer what a richer, better place it would be. So in a week that has International women's day and Mother's Day...step forward all and take a bow, you are fantastic, thank you.

8 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful post on many levels Audrey. I feel honoured to be partnering with you in starting up #BCCEU the first breast cancer chat in Europe. I also feel honoured to be friends with a woman like you who is both passionate and compassionate. Marie x

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    1. Thank you Marie. It's a mutual honour and joy! Xx

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  2. Hi Audrey,
    Honestly, when I first heard of this International Women's Day designation, I thought, hmmm... do we really need such a thing? But perhaps we do. Women are still not treated equally around the world and until we care about the rights, dignity, health and general well-being of all women, the work is not done. Congrats on the new chat you and Marie have started up. Twitter is amazing isn't it? And thanks for the mention. I thought it was an outstanding quote too.

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    1. I do understand Nancy but once you look into the evidence it's incredibly revealing and not just in the developing world. I suspect too that recession is not helping any of the issues around equality. We are a powerful community and its a chance to use that for all, you are right. Good to connect as always. Ax

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  3. Excellent post. There's such a ways to go with women's rights to their body, their learning, their lives, and bringing our voices to a level that equals men everywhere in the world. I really think that online networking is a tool that can give voice and create change - talks like #BCCEU are proof of that potential

    Happy belated International Women's Day to you! ~Catherine

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  4. Thank you Catherine, we have seen the power of social media in the bigger revolutions like the Arab spring. Maybe we can make change through some of the more localised or targeted campaigns too. Thanks for your kind words and good to hear from you. Audrey

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  5. I'm glad the twitter chats are expanding so that women in Europe and in the US can participate, and I'm thrilled that transcripts exist so we don't miss anything. I love all the focus on women this week across the pond. We have a long way to go.

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  6. We do indeed Jan and we need to not forget that I guess. I hope you are finding your days are improving and your are having time with those you love. Thank you for taking time to comment. It means a lot. Axxx

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