Celebrating the Women of Shrub

By SHRUB Coop, posted 08/03/21

Our volunteer Lauriane interviews Billie, Lili, and Mary for International Women's Day!



● What does “international women’s day” mean to you? And why is it so important that the world celebrates it?

● If you could name one woman that has had a significant impact on your life, who would that be and why her specifically?

● Do you have any books, TV shows, podcasts, documentaries to recommend about Feminism and the fight for Women’s rights?

● Covid has showed us a total different way of living - so how do you cope with all the changes yourself? Any specific tips you would like to share that have helped you and would help our readers with anxiety and distress during those difficult times?

● According to you, what does it mean to “be a strong woman” in our modern times? We talk about courage, passion and empathy much more than we ever use to, but what do those words really mean ? Which actions can we implement in our daily lives that will not only help other women but help each and everyone of us on a general level?

BILLIE (staff)

• International women’s day is important to me because it is an opportunity to shed light on the achievements of women while also highlighting the continued inequalities that we face today. With the added bonus of an excuse to tell the women in my life how much I appreciate and am inspired by them.

• As cheesy and predictable as it is, my mum, Jo Dunlevie. She taught me how to value kindness while refusing to accept inequality and injustice. She showed me that I have a voice that has value and that I should use it to the best of my abilities. Thanks to her, my heart is open to love and my head is open to learn. I owe a lot of who I am to her.

• There is a lot of brilliant work out there. I am hesitant to recommend specific things as I think it really depends on where a person is on their journey. It is really important to remember that feminism is intersectional and to apply critical thinking to where we get our information from, to ask ourselves who’s story isn’t being told and why not? I recommend that people always seek out the voices of women from marginalised communities. Including BIPOC women, women with disabilities and queer women.

• I would really encourage people who are struggling to reach out. At Shrub we are trying really hard to keep people connected but if we are missing something or if there is something extra we could be doing, we would be really keen to hear from people. They can get us at: welfare@shrubcoop.org. Personally I’ve been dancing a lot. I crank up some good tunes and move my body as haphazardly as I can. The rush of joy can get me through an otherwise monotonous day.

• I think I could write thousands of words and still not fully answer this question but I’ll try to capture some of my feelings on this succinctly. I think that trying to be aware of the wider context of inequality and how that affects people is a good start to ‘being a strong woman’. Some of this can include pushing through awkward conversations and advocating for others. It can be calling out the patriarchy for what it is and the inequality it is reinforcing. I think this is very complex and will look differently to everyone depending on their circumstances and their individual barriers. We can show strength by supporting other women and in doing so can be a part of dismantling systems of inequality. If our overarching aim is to look out for each other and work towards a fairer world:then maybe future generations can celebrate International women’s day and just look back on gender based inequality as a thing of the past.

LILI (trustee)

• International women’s day represents for me the hope of a just and equal society in the future. It is very important to celebrate it, in order to remember that big changes can happen!

• So hard to choose! I would say my English highschool teacher, she was very passionate and engaging, and definitely made a big difference on my way of thinking and learning. She inspired me to choose my degree. I discovered few years later we did the same university and faculty.

• I really recommend these books I recently read - Women at point zero, written by Nawal El Saadawi and The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan. While the first one portrays the condition of Egyptian women, the second is focused on the lives of four Chinese American immigrant families. They ́re small, but really intense books. Give it a try!

• Dear Covid, looking forward to not seeing you again! I have been working so much more on myself this year. I learnt that in moments in which I could feel very twitchy, sad and angry, what I have to do is to take a moment of reflection, do some positive mental work-out, and calm myself down (oh, not easy, could take days sometimes!). But it always works. Of course, this won’t be permanent, bad feelings come back in your mind, as dust starts to invade your bedroom after few days you cleaned it. It’s mostly up to you to keep your mind bright. Definitely, I started to appreciate much more the small things. I would recommend to find some time to do work-out, yoga or meditation at home. It really changes your day. The last thing I would suggest is: occupy your mind with good stuff.

• Nowadays I believe that to be a strong woman is to be our true self. Surely there has been a rise in awareness of certain themes, however I sincerely think that words without a real action are nothing but empty. I think that we should implement more initiative and cooperation in what we do. As an action I would say, be kind and sincere with the people around you.

MARY (volunteer)

• It’s an opportunity to highlight global women’s issues and for women to support other women. It’s important because there’s a lot of gender inequality which we need to work together to tackle.

• My mum. She brought me up to value education and to believe that I could be whatever I wanted.

• I read the Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer and Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach in the 70s. I’ve enjoyed Fay Weldon’s and Margaret Atwood’s books some of which have feminist themes.

• One of the things that I’ve found helpful during the pandemic has been deciding the night before which two self care things I’m going to do the following day and visualising myself doing them. I’ve found I’m much more likely to follow through and do them.

• A strong woman is self reliant but maintains a support network, as we all need a bit of help from our friends. Cut out the negative self talk and call it out when you hear others doing it.

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