On International Women’s Day, I wanted to reflect on how lucky I was last year to be able to get to know some of the wonderful female Chief Executives of charity infrastructure organisations. This isn’t to say the blokes aren’t great too, of course they are, but as a twenty-seven year old woman, early in her career and with a young family, there is something really inspiring about sitting in a room, or rather a zoom, of Charity Chief Executives and for the majority of them to be female.
2020 was a difficult year for most of us, particularly those of us who work in the #NeverMoreNeeded Charity sector, at a time where income plummeted, and need grew to unprecedented levels. Chief Executives have worked their absolute socks off and made really difficult decisions to help charities survive and continue to serve their beneficiaries. All of this whilst juggling the new way of working and living and with many also trying to manage childcare and home schooling the burden of which has disproportionately fallen on the women not the men.
I have not only learnt from these amazing women, but they have been supportive, welcoming and thankful for the time, effort and work I have put in to support the Charity Infrastructure Group Collaboration. What I most admire about them is not just that they are incredibly hard working, but that they put ego to one side because getting the job done is more important than being acknowledged for it. I’ve witnessed them having the difficult conversations needed, their commitment to providing the data and telling the stories of a sector in crisis; their determination to hold the government to account who just aren’t listening. This can feel like soul-destroying work but they just don’t give up. There has been blood, sweat and times when we have all wept angry tears, but still they persevere.
And, unlike the men, I have observed how often they have to do this work in the context of the flagrantly sexist nature of the treatment this group of incredible women receive. This is never more noticeable than on social media. I have felt so disheartened reading tweets about how great the old boys club once was, the tweets attacking the work they are doing, the gaslighting they receive from those who claim they are doing nothing at all when they are working night and day to get change. As Taylor Swift would say, they do ‘Shake it Off’ but I know that it makes their work so much harder.
So this International Women’s Day, I would like to thank Debra Allcock Tyler (DSC), Vicky Browning (ACEVO), Adeela Warley (Charity Comms), Caron Bradshaw (CFG), Ali Harris (Equally Ours), Clare Mills (NAVCA), Jane Ide (CC Skills), Rita Chadha (SCC), Ndidi Okezie (UK Youth), Carol Mack (ACF), Kathy Evans (Children England) and Sarah Vibert (NCVO) for reminding me to be brave and no matter how bad things feel to put on my big girl knickers and get the job done!