The purpose of International Women’s Day is to honour women’s achievements, recognise challenges and place a greater focus on women’s rights and gender equality and equity.
This year’s International Women’s Day campaign theme is #EmbraceEquity. The campaign is to prompt important conversations around why ‘equal opportunities’ may not go far enough. Because individuals start at different places as determined by their gender, social background, ethnicity and other factors, true inclusion and belonging requires equitable action.
Talk from Dr Ateh Jewel
On 8 March 2023, Stewarts’ Diversity Champions and Inclusion Committee had the pleasure of welcoming Dr Ateh Jewel to Stewarts’ London office to mark International Women’s Day.
Debbie Chism, Partner in the Divorce & Family team, kickstarted the session with a warm introduction for Ateh. Ateh is a beauty journalist, director, producer, broadcaster, influencer and diversity advocate. She has been in the publishing industry for 20 years and regularly writes about beauty, politics and culture. In 2022 she set up the Dr Ateh Jewel Foundation to fund top University spaces for bright students of black and mixed heritage from low income backgrounds and ensure they are able to dedicate themselves to their studies. The Stewarts Foundation has announced its support of the initiative.
Ateh’s presentation touched on multiple topics including her educational background and her love for history, the challenges she has faced throughout her education and her career in the beauty industry, her motivation behind her foundation, and how we can all embrace equity.
Ateh took us down memory lane. She talked us through her background and study of History at Bristol University, including of 17th century witchcraft. She enjoys discussing power, status and identity within a historical context. Ateh also provided us with some historical facts:
She went on to speak about her experience with racism, sexism and misogyny throughout her life and career. Ateh does morning reviews on ITV’s This Morning where she reviews topics from beauty to politics, but often faces online criticisms questioning her credibility to discuss political issues. These critiques often dismiss her views given she is “just a makeup artist”. Such comments and questions about her credibility may be rooted in misogyny as a female presenting political views on a national television platform.
Ateh has created a range of beauty products for darker skin tones but faced a number of setbacks along the way. Many factories would question her beauty range and question whether individuals with darker skin have the means to purchase luxury items and whether it is worth creating a bespoke formula for such a customer base.
Ateh highlighted: “I suffer the effects of racism, sexism and misogyny but I think it is for men and women to solve the problem together. Diversity and equality is a win-win for everyone.”
Dr Ateh Jewel Foundation
Ateh’s spark for her foundation began at age 19. Whilst Ateh came from an affluent background, she decided to persevere on her own. She worked all night, writing her essays at the ‘computer lab’ at university with the mantra that she “could not fail”. She felt like she did not want others to go through these similar struggles. The start of her Foundation came from a place of empathy.
Achieving gender equality and embracing equity
Ateh left us with some words of wisdom: “It is for everyone to speak up and recognise your privilege and use it like a superpower for good to kick doors open for others.” She also provided some parting career advice: “Make your hobby your job and you will never feel like you are working”.
Ateh spoke to Amy Heath, Partner in the Clinical Negligence team and Diversity Champion at Stewarts, about how we can #EmbraceEquity: Watch the interview here.
More for International Women’s Day
Senior Paralegal Grace Makungu of the Gender Parenting and Carers focus group attended an event hosted by Women4Africa, who partnered with NatWest Group to celebrate International Women’s Day. The event included talks by influential women in the legal, business, and other industries, who all spoke about the ‘power of storytelling’. The event was inspiring whilst encouraging everyone to be their best selves, promoting a key message: “If you think the price of winning is so high, wait for the bills of regret.” In other words, do not be afraid to pursue your dreams and set your own limits.
Women at the event were encouraged to tell their stories, not to shrink or undersell themselves in male dominated spaces and encourage male allies to push for and seek to embrace equity for women globally.
At Stewarts, we also considered the key theme of intersectionality, which “identifies areas of social and societal privilege and disadvantage, allowing us to reflect on the areas where we possess power and the areas where we do not. Social identities work on multiple levels, resulting in unique experiences, opportunities, and barriers for each person. Oppression cannot be reduced to only one part of an identity; each aspect is interrelated and shapes the others.”
How can we all help? Some easy starting points
- Check your own privilege, and look beyond just sex and skin colour when considering diversity, equality and intersectionality.
- Listen and learn about the experience of others.
- Make space. Ask yourself if you’re the right person to take up space or speak on certain issues. If it’s outside of your lived experience, empower those who are directly affected by these issues.
- Consider your language: for example, would you call a man “sassy”, or “feisty”? Have you ever heard someone called a “career man” or “working husband?”
You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Diversity and Equality pages.
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