Coming hot on the heels of an unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality, and justice, there was a real wind of change surrounding this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD). mothers2mothers (m2m) certainly felt the excitement and determination at the two IWD events we held in London that brought together an inspiring group of partners and panellists committed to taking action and creating a future for women everywhere. At the centre of all of the conversations were the amazing HIV-positive women m2m employs as Mentor Mothers in eight African nations, whose life-changing work championing the health and wellbeing of women and their families makes them true activists and “Wonder Women.”
Our first event took place on 7th March, the eve of International Women’s Day, at the stunning W Hotel in the heart of London. Co-hosted with Female Narratives, a collective of creative female freelancers, and expertly chaired by the phenomenal fashion blogger Freddie Harrel, the evening featured a stellar line-up—including the remarkable Michelle Kennedy, CEO and co-founder of match-making app for mums Peanut; Stephanie Phair, Chief Strategy Officer at online fashion retailer Farfetch; Sarah Tomczak, Executive Editor of Red Magazine; and Emma France, Global Development & Strategic Engagement Director at m2m.
Opening the panel, Freddie reminded us all that: “We had the talk, now it’s time to do the walk!” And that’s exactly what we did, with a fascinating conversation that spanned gender equality, diversity, motherhood, technology vs human connections, and authentic leadership. Our 75+ audience was hanging onto every word!
A theme that clearly resonated is that IWD will be made all the greater if this day is equally celebrated by women and men. There was a resounding agreement that men should be better engaged as women’s rights and gender equity are part of a much bigger conversation about cultures and society. The panelists concluded we should start locally at home by raising feminist boys and scale it up from there!
Our IWD celebrations continued the following day, 8th March, with an inspiring Wonder Women brunch at the beautiful Devonshire Club in the City of London. Co-hosted with Cherry London and chaired by the wonderful Lisa Smosarski, Editor-in-Chief of Stylist, this event brought together an impressive line up of women from diverse backgrounds which made for a stimulating conversation. They included: Tanya Joseph, creator of “This Girl Can” campaign & Vice-Chair of the Fawcett Society; Sonoo Singh, Associate Editor of The Drum; Athena Stevens, spokesperson for the Women’s Equality Party; Gemma Mason Head of PR atSuperdrug, Samantha Bond, m2m patron; and m2m’s Emma France.
One of the highlights of the brunch was the announcement that Wonder Woman panelist, television and radio host Rochelle Humes has joined m2m as our newest patron. Rochelle, along with Samantha Bond, discussed what had attracted them to m2m and how they will use their patronage to press for progress for the women we serve.
Talking to a packed room of 100 guests, Sonoo Singh warned of turning IWD into a “token moment for women” and that it needed to represent meaningful change, with Tanya Joseph adding “don’t touch IWD if you’re not serious about it!” Athena Stevens talked about how people often forget that change happens slowly and that we do not have magic wands, which is why we need to be in it for the long haul.
We could not have wished for a better IWD and will be continuing to work hard so that everyday is IWD for m2m’s incredible Mentor Mothers and the women they serve.