Tag Archives: women

Choices, Challenges And Champions

I remember the world when I was just five years old

The books that we read and the stories we were all told

Made me think that in my future a wife is all I’d be

Caring for a home and a mother of two or three

But the world was changing, by the time I was sixteen

Options now lay before me and I was super keen

Soon I was in steel toe-capped boots and a hard-hat

Digging groundworks or tiling roofs like an acrobat

I’m grateful to all those men who freely shared their skills

I learnt to use cement mixers and pneumatic drills

The men who trained me proved that they were of noble heart

Ensuring that a woman could feel she had a part

Though the work was tough, soon I’d acquired trades galore

But now I sensed within me a hunger for something more

I volunteered for construction projects near and far

Lusaka, Bucharest, Managua and Accra

I was assigned to teach women who had been abused

Their accounts of mistreatment left me far from amused

Travelling to other lands, meeting women everywhere

Who show courage and zeal in a world that is unfair

Empowering all women is still a global quest

Which will allow humanity to be at it’s best

We remember the girls who brought football home last year

In every town and village we heard a mighty cheer

We were celebrating not just winning a sports game

But opened doors, smashed glass ceilings, women in the frame!

That champion football squad now amplify the voice

Of women young and old fighting for a better choice

Parts of this world have made progress or so it would seem

Yet there are still many women who can only dream

They will have the chance for training and education

To escape cruelty, violence and deprivation

So please we urge re-focus on the clear rationale

Celebrating women here and international

Be it colleagues, friends, daughters, sisters, aunties or wife

Embrace equality – value women in your life!

This is a rhyme I came up with recently. I just wanted to mention that it is not for IWD – which seems to be a token or novelty to many, more of a PR opportunity than a decisive turning point. I wrote it for an online conference (webinar) that was all about educational programs for people who have been mistreated, often due to being financially dependent on their abusers. As you may well imagine, the vast majority of those enrolled in these programs are women.

I do not consider myself a “feminist”, but I do despise cruelty and violence, injustice and oppression. I am grateful that I have enjoyed freedom of choice in so many areas of my life. Being a mother and rearing children is a wonderful honour, yet in many lands this responsibility is forced upon women, often girls who are still children and have been effectively sold as brides. I am passionate about protecting women who are often denied choices, controlled by threats and violence, and who are viewed as inconsequential slaves.

The corporate entities who make a fuss over these international days – making pledges and putting on a show over their enlightened outlook – but then not keeping their word – I have a poor opinion of. Those who laugh about subjects like rape as if it were a joke – or think it is “manly” to belittle a woman or undermine her self-esteem – you simply do not deserve anything. If it were up to me, I would take everything from you and leave you destitute – which you are – you are pathetic, ignorant cowards without conscience. If you continue in your ways, you will have no future life prospects at all.

The Righteous And The Unrighteous


I went shopping last night.  I didn’t need a lot, just some fresh greens and milk and bready stuff.  I think I did quite well:

    • salad (rocket, cos lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, basil, parsley)
    • cashew milk / soya milk
    • rice-cakes
    • quinoa bread
    • crisp bread
    • chickpeas and coriander (I intend to make some hummous with)
    • bottle of red wine

Yeah, I was able to hold my head up high as I approached the tills.  The gent in front of me on the other hand had a more notable selection:

    • 2x bottles of rum
    • 2x bottles of whisky
    • bottle of gin
    • 4 bags of filter coffee
    • a wedge of brie
    • a slab of manchego
    • ten packets of pepporami

I mean maybe the two of us were a bit of an extreme example.  Moi –  truly trying to eat sensibly, so because of the rest of my shopping basket being so virtuous I could hold my head up in good conscience with the bottle of red in the middle.  (Though I had stacked my salad on top of it.)  Man – looking as if he cares not about the shape of his body and his health.  There we were, side by side, the righteous and the unrighteous of shoppers!

There is a difference between man shopping and woman shopping isn’t there?  I must be careful what I say now.  I am sure there are many responsible men out there capable of a well-rounded shop.  I am going to relate to you one or two real-life experiences of shopping that mean I would not trust every man with my weekly food shopping.  I remember times when we were a bit gobsmacked when we trusted a man to go shopping on his own.

For example, when I was in Romania, we had an episode about cooking.  Eleven of us.  Seven girls in one apartment a Romanian friend had let us stay in, and four boys in another apartment.  Our Romanian friend had said we could use up any food that others had left on the apartment.  (He often let it out to tourists.)  The boys would come over to our apartment in the morning before we all set out together exploring.  Most meal-times took place in our apartment.  Four of us were vegetarian.  Now it strangely kept falling to the vegetarians to do all the cooking and there were complaints.  One of the girls seemed to suffer terribly without meat.  I went out and bought sausages and bacon and cooked up a full English for everyone and she seemed to revive.  But one night we were at the apartment catching up on desperately needed rest.  We had been skiing and we were all shattered.  The boys arrived and told us they had invited around some friends for dinner.  They were expecting twelve guests.  Eleven of us.  Twelves guests.  Hmmm.  We asked what was the plan for dinner?  The boys looked blank and expected us to have the answer.

Well there was a big sack of potatoes in the cupboard.  But half of them were inedible.  We sorted through them and washed peeled and sliced all the decent ones.  We also found lots of kidney beans and tinned tomatoes and spices.  So, we improvised a sort of chilli with all this.  We all scraped some money together and sent the boys out shopping for drinks and other food.  We were hoping they would bring back some useful food.  When they returned they had spent the entire amount on beer and crisps.  The twelve guests were scratching their heads about the strange chilli and mashed potatoe we served them.  But the boys in our group thought it was great.  The females of our party were red-faced.  But the lads had no idea why we were making a fuss.  To be fair – I think us girls were truly shattered after the skiing.  We were not overly happy to be told twelve guests were coming and we had to cook for 23 for no other reason than that we were female.

My friend told me that just after he and his wife married, she sent him shopping with a list thinking nothing could go wrong.  He was puzzled by her wanting 100 rolls though and wondered if she had decided they would have a BBQ and had not told him.  So, he came home with 100 bread rolls.  She was shocked.  She said, “loo rolls”.

One very sweet 90-year old lady I used to help as a carer would ask to be taken on a shopping trip to the large Waitrose a couple of miles from where she lived.  There was a little shop near her where she used to go to get her basic provisions.  But this very independent, mobile, sociable 90-year old used to have little parties where she would invite people to her flat and provide food and drinks.  Now our shopping trips were quite interesting.  We used the car and we would always put an empty suitcase into the back of the car.  We went down to the Waitrose supermarket and she always bought virtually the same thing.  We filled up the trolley with cans of Guinness, bottles of sherry and wine.  Then we would buy bags of nuts and crisps.




When we arrived at the tills I would be pushing the shopping trolley while she pushed her walker.  The cashier always looked at me with a stern look as the total came up more than £200/£300 and the very little 90-year old lady would pull out her purse and pay for the shopping.  I always wanted to say “This is not what it looks like.  I am not getting my sweet grandma to pay for my booze!”  But I realized that frankly it was none of the cashier’s business.  Although the cashiers seemed to cast a judgemental glance my way.

Then we would put everything in the suitcase.  She didn’t like her neighbours to see her shopping so when we arrived back she would walk along with her squeaky little walking frame and I would pull the suitcase slowly trying to make sure no bottles clashed.  It was hilarious really.

Anyway, I have to admit, I am sometimes nosier than I should be casting my eyes on what other shoppers are loading onto the conveyor belt to the till.  It does have a wholesome effect on me though.  It motivates to me to make sure whatever I put into my shopping basket will make me feel splendidly righteous when I am in front of the cashier.  If I am craving something naughty and find I am unable to resist something alluring on the supermarket shelves, I will always go through a self-scan till.

Pathetic hey!