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Our Journal

International Women's Day 2021

SU President Harriet Moore chats to some of our students and staff about this year's theme for International Women's Day 'Choose to Challenge'.

International Women’s Day happens across the world annually on 8 March. The day is a celebration of women’s rights and is a focal point in the movement, first celebrated in 1911. It celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

The campaign theme for International Women's Day 2021 is 'Choose To Challenge'. They said that from challenge comes change, so I wanted to catch up with some staff and students to see what they choose to challenge, and what changes they’d like to see this year and onwards. Starting with myself...

Harriet

Harriet Moore

Harriet Moore, SU President at Plymouth College of Art

  • The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘Choose To Challenge’, what do you choose to challenge?

Harriet: I choose to challenge the stereotype that women do not make good leaders. Many great women before me have been the head of the Students’ Union here at Plymouth College of Art, with a great number of the Student Union Executive Committee and other team members also being women, and I think that’s what has made us so unique. Plymouth College of Art is a community that embraces differences and encourages individuality, in a world that doesn’t always get that right. I have been greatly inspired by the commitment and strength of Student Union Presidents before me, and I am proud to see the strong women around me now, having a voice and making a difference in our community.

  • What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Harriet: International Women’s Day is a celebration of women, and people, across the globe. It is a way for us to collectively use our voices on the things that matter, and speak up about injustices. It gives me a sense of community, that I wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise.

I would like to see period products offered for free to anyone who needs them in public toilets, in all businesses, and most importantly every school, college and university.
Harriet Moore, SU President
  • What change would you like to see in 2021?

Harriet: One of the biggest things I’d like to see in 2021 is the end of period poverty. I would like to see period products offered for free to anyone who needs them in public toilets, in all businesses, and most importantly every school, college and university. Period poverty can have such an impact on education and we need to do everything we can to lobby for change so that the next generation doesn’t have to worry about having enough money for period products.

Mimi

Mimi Jones

Mimi Jones, Vice-President for Further Education and Extended Diploma student

  • What do you choose to challenge on International Women's Day?

Mimi: This International Women's Day, I am challenging the stereotypes of Autism by exploring both my own and other women's experiences with it. Autism in women is dramatically less noticed and diagnosed as it often leads to women presenting as the 'perfect' female: quiet, reserved, intelligent etc. and, the social understanding is that it mainly affects boys and just makes them loud. I am going to work on challenging my own internalised bias, and share stories of others online and with those I am close to.

  • What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Mimi: To me, International Women's Day is a chance to reflect on how far women have come, and to look at the distance we still have to go. I think it is a day to be proud of the little accomplishments we make daily, like standing up to sexism in the workplace or allowing yourself to do things that are ingrained in you as not being 'feminine' or 'ladylike' enough.

  • What change would you like to see in 2021?

Mimi: In 2021, I hope to see period poverty lessen. With the period tax being removed, and the government helping provide free period products, this is already underway but I think there is still room to improve through education: explaining the concept and period product alternatives that are cheaper in the long run such as period cups and reusable pads/period underwear.

Esther

Esther Ashworth-Howell

Esther Ashworth-Howell, BA (Hons) Illustration student

  • The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘Choose To Challenge’, what do you choose to challenge?

Esther: I am always choosing to challenge something, it's what motivates me and my work. Especially challenging societal norms and taboo subjects, anything that artistically discusses subjects such as misogyny, equality and oppression. I think using my art to create a world I want to live in is such an important idea and I think it's something a lot of young illustrators are also starting to work with, and I love it when I come across other people who use their art to communicate their engagement with politics and such movements.

  • What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Esther: International Women's Day is such an exciting and important event, and to me, it means an amazing celebration of women and their empowerment. As female artists, it means we have an opportunity to amplify our voices in contexts that they're not usually heard, especially as we have the skill to do this in a unique and engaging way.

  • What change would you like to see in 2021?

Esther: There are so many changes I'd love to see in 2021, too many for me to possibly list, but I am so excited to see the passion that'll be reignited among art students when the pandemic is over. I'm so excited to see what the future holds.

Mohini

Mohini Chandra

Mohini Chandra, Subject Lead for BA (Hons) Photography and MA Subject Tutor

  • What do you choose to challenge for this International Women's Day?

Mohini: I choose to challenge the arts and education sector to address continued gender disparity in terms of opportunity and recognition and in particular to consider this in relation to BAME communities and individuals. We have the opportunity, as a cultural community, to celebrate a wide range of cultural experiences, to challenge the origins of inequality and contemporary prejudice and to create diverse global communities. Our experience of the last year has highlighted this potential, while also increasing inequality around the world, making the task more urgent than ever.

  • What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Mohini: A celebration of the gains made by women around the world in terms of equal rights. A chance to reflect on what still needs to be done. The word ‘international’ points to the importance of a global effort as well as a sense of community. However, I see this in a collaborative and decentred way, not that the west is teaching the rest of the world how to do it! It is an opportunity to listen.

The word ‘international’ points to the importance of a global effort as well as a sense of community.
Mohini Chandra, Subject Lead for BA (Hons) Photography and MA Subject Tutor

What change or changes would you like to see in 2021?

Mohini: A recognition of the continued gender disparity in cultural, social and economic conditions, which has been exacerbated by the global pandemic.

A greater commitment by our society to action on gender and other forms of inequality- with a local as well as global outlook. For example, wealthier nations could be more generous with overseas aid budgets as this is known to improve the health, education and sustainable working conditions for women and girls around the world. We could also improve professional and economic opportunities (and support) here in the UK, as we know that women and BAME groups have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and shouldered a greater burden.

A recognition that human health, welfare and equality depend on the health of the planet as well as each other. We are the ‘custodians’ and we need to do better. It’s been a pretty difficult year, but hopefully, we have learnt something - let’s turn it around!

Let us know by using the hashtag #ChooseToChallenge and tagging Plymouth College of Art and PCA SU on social media this International Women’s Day! Find out more.

Banner image by BA (Hons) Illustration alumna Izzy Hazard.