International Women’s Day, one week on

It’s one week since we celebrated International Women’s day 2020. #EachforEqual. We were reminded that equality is not a women’s issue, it is essential for economies and communities to thrive. There were some wonderful stories, reflections, signs of change and calls to action. It was great to see so many men speak up with authenticity.

One week on, amidst one of the biggest mobilisation efforts by #ourNHSpeople and others to care for our communities and one another, once again so many wonderful women, are stepping up. They are putting others first, acting calmly and responsibly to ensure people are safe. There are men too of course, but I’m going to focus on the women today. This is a time that will really test our ability to be kind and truly non discriminatory in our approach to helping those who are in need and do the right thing.

This week at ELFT, four candidates were interviewed for an exciting new senior position to help take the Trust strategy to the next level. Three out of the four were women. This week I heard stories of the achievements of three young women colleagues which made my heart swell with pride. However, today, at a meeting venue, I noticed through a glass panel wall, a room full of highly engaged individuals (I counted forty-four people,) giving their full attention to a presentation. I glanced at the event information on the door. They were discussing a matter which could have huge impact on improving the health of the population. It looked fascinating. There was only one woman in the room. This made my heart sink.

This is not the time to forget about the pledges so many of us made last week. The 2020 #EachforEqual campaign continues. An equal world is an enabled world. So many people promised to work towards this. I look forward to hearing more stories of role models to inspire us.  I look forward to learning of improvement initiatives which deliver better outcomes for women, their organisations and their communities. I look forward to the visibility of women who support other women to progress. I especially look forward to hearing from the men who will be working all year to achieve this aim for further celebration during International Women’s day 2021.

Please let me indulge for one tiny moment to remember my father who so fiercely supported the achievements of his mother, his sisters, his wife, his nieces, his granddaughter and his daughter. I know there are many such fathers amongst #ourNHSPeople. We look to such fathers to enable their daughters’ success, perhaps to join our future NHS workforce. They will become the wonderful women who will continue to come together in times of need to keep others safe.

The awesome singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo said, “No man on this planet is going to tell me that it is not possible to empower their daughters and respect women.” I hope that every single man in the NHS will say that it is what they do.