Processions: 1918 – 2018

Today my friend Judith and I took part in Processions in Edinburgh. The event, taking place in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Belfast, was a ‘living artwork’ displaying a river of suffragette colours through city streets, commemorating 100 years since the first women in the UK gained the right to vote.

The National Gallery pillars standing in solidarity

Everyone gathered at the Meadows, and we went round admiring the wonderful banners that various groups had made.

We were organised into groups and given either a green, white, or purple scarf, and at 2pm the first groups started gradually streaming out.

Time to set off

It was glorious seeing a sea of women and girls (teenagers, tweens, tiny young girls, with their mums and friends, bearing feminist slogans!); seeing all the hard work put into beautiful things bearing powerful messages of solidarity and determination; seeing how far away some groups had come from; and knowing that every one of them was here to stand up and be counted. These were my people.

I’ve only recently heard about the involvement of people from around the British colonies in the movement for enfranchisement, such as Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, which really struck me. Of course, it didn’t end in 1918, as it was only women over the age of 30 who owned property who were allowed to vote at that point. It then took a further ten years for all women, and indeed all men, to finally have this basic civil right, which I’m sure had an impact and influence outside Britain as well. When Malaysia gained independence in 1957, both women and men over 21 were able to vote on their futures from that point.

Around 4 pm the procession flowed into Holyrood Park, with stunning Arthur’s Seat in the background.

The finish line, reminding us that each of our votes; each of us, makes a difference.

And as everyone cheered on the final women and banners through, we took heart from what we were part of today, went away for well deserved rest, and resolved to come back to continue the fight for gender equality.

International Women’s Day 2018


Book cover images sourced from Goodreads

Here’s a look at some books by female writers that I’ve enjoyed in the past year.

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International Women’s Day 2017

How is it March already?? Well, here we are, and here are some female driven film and literary things that have caught my attention.

The 2017 Bailey’s Prize longlist has been announced – an intriguing lineup here as always.

IMDB, quite probably the largest source of movie and TV information, has adopted the F-rating: a rating to show if films are written by women, directed by women, and/or feature women on screen in their own right. Admittedly, as this article points out, the rating isn’t featured on every film page, instead you can use their search tool to find movies that meet one or more of these criteria. I’m willing to give it time though, for this to be adopted fully on individual pages.

A shoutout to Scottish writers Claire MacLeary and Clio Gray, who I saw at an event during Aberdeen’s recent Granite Noir festival. Their books sound very interesting indeed, and are at the top of my list for upcoming reads. Claire MacLeary’s debut novel is Cross Purpose, set in Aberdeen City. Clio Gray, on the other hand, is a veteran writer (longlisted for the Bailey’s Prize last year), and her new three-part series begins with Deadly Prospects.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading the Chronicles of St Mary’s series, by Jodi Taylor. It’s about historians who study historic events in ‘contemporary time’, i.e. through time travel. It’s got some dark bits, but overall it’s fairly light reading and good fun. I’d say it’s almost like a boarding school series, but featuring the staff.

The little things matter as much as the big things when it comes to changing the world. So let’s be proud of ‘little’ things like celebrating female authors and filmmakers, and equally let’s not be shy about ‘making a fuss’ when something’s not right. This year’s International Women’s Day theme, Be Bold for Change, is a good reminder of that.

International Women’s Day 2016

2016-03-07 Books by female writers

In keeping with last year’s literary theme, I’m celebrating female writers today.
The past year was pretty packed for me so reading time suffered, but here are some books by women that I’ve very much enjoyed.

We are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
It’s hard to describe this story without giving away too much, but it delves into family relationships, communication, society, finding your identity – told from the point of view of a girl growing up with psychologist parents. A pick from my book club.

Half Bad and Half Wild – Sally Green
Young adult fantasy, dealing with segregation, societal expectations, and coming of age amongst witches. Classic witchy, magicky stuff in a very contemporary setting (they carry mobile phones, use the internet, and deal with local authority bureaucracy). Really quite gripping reads, and the final book of the trilogy, Half Lost, is out later this month.

The Invisible Library – Genevieve Cogman
Librarian spies from a mysterious Library hunt down books from alternate worlds, and here they investigate goings on in a steampunk London. A good, fun read.

I plan to slowly work my way through Penguin’s Little Black Classics, and my reads so far include:
A Pair of Silk Stockings – Kate Chopin, and
The Old Nurse’s Story – Elizabeth Gaskell
Kate Chopin’s tales are gritty and hauntingly sad, while Elizabeth Gaskell’s two stories are gothic chillers – very much unlike her more familiar stories, but just as intriguing.

As expected, my “to read” list is one I could keep adding to forever, so I shall just share my Pinterest board for books instead, which I think is quite female heavy.

Finally, here’s something to look out for today:
The Bailey’s Women’s Prize for fiction longlist will be announced, followed by the shortlist in April, and the winner in June.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Election, reflection, progression

2015-02-14

So the UK General Election has come and gone, and despite everyone and their grandmother saying it was going to be terribly close and drawn out for weeks, it turned out we had a majority government by the next morning. Not my choice of government, but I’ll have to deal with it. I was very conflicted this year – as one who usually identifies with Lib Dem / Labour ideals, I was fed up with the Lib Dems and sorely disappointed with Labour; I’m entirely for the UK union, but intrigued by the SNP and their other, progressive policies (and I was never a fan of Nicola Sturgeon but I’ve been impressed by her since she took on leadership). I stood at the polling booth longer than I thought I would.

Though many seem to think the SNP are the reason Labour didn’t pull it off, the maths tells us that even all 59 seats in Scotland would not have made up a Labour majority. I strongly believe that it was Labour themselves that played a big part in the SNP result – their split personality (trying to out-Tory the Tories) and lack of understanding of Scotland’s ideals regardless of the independence issue. And I don’t even know where to begin with the huge number of votes UKIP received, but I take comfort in knowing that Nigel Farage, a crucial part of this one-man-show of a party, will no longer be joining us.

Onward with the positives: A record number of women and ethnic minorities in this parliament, and while it is certainly not enough (in Westminster or in Holyrood), it is these gradual steps that finally get us there.

Most excitingly of all during this election period, the Women’s Equality Party was formed, and they aim to put forward candidates in the 2020 general election. Sandi Toksvig left her Radio 4 News Quiz role to help set up the party, having decided that she’s had enough with making jokes about politics and needs to participate in changing politics. This may be a single-issue party, but that’s how the Greens started, and they now have a comprehensive manifesto and are right up there with the other main parties. Equality is a huge issue, and I have great hopes for what this party can achieve (and gleefully look forward to being a ‘card-carrying member’).

So, interesting times…what did you think of the election outcome? And is the saying “may you live in interesting times” a blessing or curse? Perhaps it depends on what one considers interesting. I have no control over when in history I live – these are the times I live in, and whether interesting or not, I shall do what I can to make the best of it.