This month hasn’t just been one day of international women’s day activity; there have been events every single day. In the same way that October in the UK is black history month, (as if black history weren’t a part of the wider UK and world history), we have to make an effort to engage, champion and remind everyone that women are great and to be celebrated in March.
Women in business, older women, young women, women in music and more are holding events hoping to empower themselves. My inbox has been full of invites to celebrate women, from GOOGLES IWD event, Downing St IWD event, South Banks IWD event and many, many more.
There’s something infectious in the air, and shouting out loud about diversity, is this year’s ice bucket challenge.
In the past we always spoke up at injustice, but today with social media, the game has changed. In a hot minute disgruntled social media users can take down individuals and whole brands!
In hours editors of newspapers and gatekeepers for brands can be shamed into making apologies and explaining. (See this weeks MUSICWEEK editors comments after their hot ‘’30 under 30’’ who are apparently the future of the music business, were featured. The list didn’t look very diverse, and predictably social media outrage rained down upon Musicweek, and within a couple of hours Editor Mark Sutherland was explaining himself.
With all the various groups fighting for diversity in class, culture, ability, ethnicity and more, the big one, that frankly its ridiculous that we even need to discuss, is equality for women. I mean what is this, the ice age? Women actually get paid less for doing the same job as men? What?
TERRI WALKER CHAMPIONS HER FEMALE PEERS AT THE GIRLS I RATE DINNER.
We are and have always been essential to the human race. We are present, yet not prominent or even equal in every industry. We multitask like an Olympic athlete but are still fighting for an equal playing field to men when it comes to salaries, benefits and profile?
Music artist Kesha has been in the headlines after her court case accusing her label and producer Dr Luke of the predictable casting couch style went global.
Of course women in music have been speaking out about equality in music for decades. Bjork, Annie Lennox and Adele have been as outspoken about girl power as ginger spice was. Jeeze, it probably resonates as far back as Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald.
Even the MTV Awards stage sees ladies squabbling about seism and female equality. Look at last years Nick Minaj VS Taylor Swift drama. What’s good Taylor?
The music industry has been under the fearful spotlight for years panicking that music doesn’t sell anymore and it’s a dying industry. But look at the so-called saviours of the industry this year that are doing things on their own terms. Adele and Beyonce have chucked the status quo to the kerb and doing it their way.
Women are finding a new voice and with unity and strength in numbers, they are not to be messed with. If all women had the courage to unite and speak up, each small step would make a difference. You have to call out bullshit in order to change it.
JASMINE WITH GIRLS I RATE FOUNDER CARLA MARIE WILLIAMS.
This past week star songwriter (Beyonce, Girls Aloud, Kylie) and music manager Carla Marie Williams made much press in the UK, on Channel 4 News, The Guardian, BBC Radio 4 and more after launching her GIRLS I RATE dinner– Nominating Women in the Creative Industries. Carla Marie has also been songwriter for a roll call of stars such as Kylie Minogue, Girls Aloud (with an Ivor Novello nomination and BRIT Award for her contribution to the single ‘The Promise’), Alesha Dixon and The Saturdays to name but a few. She is also a singer and artist mentor with a long history of managing, championing and developing some of the UK’s freshest songwriting and musical talent, as well as running various workshops for community groups and public speaking.
Carla hosted a star-studded Gala Dinner on a moored yacht on The Thames overlooking the South Bank, in celebration of diverse women’s movement GIRLS I RATE.
A glittering Gala Dinner saw any women from the UK music industry gather to champion one another.
With over a 150 attendees aboard The Yacht London, the evening was a uniquely intimate, ticketed gathering that catered exclusively for the GIR nominees.
The inaugural Gala Dinner to launch GIRLS I RATE will be a new annual fixture in the GIR calendar. Across the year, GIRLS I RATE will offer a whole host of empowering and inspirational events, luncheons, dinners and gatherings for members to encourage member growth, engagement, teamwork, support and communication.
The evening included keynote speeches from Vick Bain (CEO of BASCA) and Kanya King MBE (MOBO CEO), a champagne reception and 3-course meal created by former Atomic Kitten and Celebrity Masterchef winner Liz McClarnon.
The star-studded event saw the likes of Liz McClarnon, Preeya Kalidas, Stooshe, Terri Walker, Jorgie Porter, Kelle Bryan, Jessica Huie MBE and Lizzie Cundy walk the red carpet and come together to toast the occasion. Other celebrities in attendance included Angel Cole – Britain’s Next Top Model finalist, Lizzie Cundy – Radio Presenter and personality, Zara Holland – Miss Great Britain and more successful all making their mar in the industry.
GIRLS I RATE, aim is to seek, nominate, celebrate and champion diverse women in the Creative Industries and we caught up with some of the ladies on the red carpet who were buzzing with excitement.
Carla told me “lt was wonderful and inspiring to connect 150 women together to launch this rapidly rising female movement. Bringing together the rich mix of diverse women “I Rate” within the industry in one room in recognition of their talents and achievements was such a gratifying experience. GIRLS I RATE is not only about celebration of success, it is also about creating future platforms to empower, mentor and support the next generation of diverse GIR girls and young women coming through across the industry. It is the start of something game changing, and we’re in it for the long haul.”
Former Atomic Kitten member Liz McLarnon helped put the delicious dinner menu together and also said ‘‘One of the main challenges is that people believe that women are equal and we’re not. It’s not equal and we’re still fighting for something people believe is already okay. When I was younger it was all about make up and the young girl thing and no respect as a musician, and now people just think I’m too old…so it goes on. My one regret is not knowing my own mind and being told what to do all the time by men’’.
Female trio Stooshe enphasised ‘’if women stick together, that can enable a movement and inspire younger women to know that they are supported and embraced. we see too many men in suits everywhere we go. Where we were signed to a label it was mainly men running the label and telling us what to do and never bothered to get to know us or what we were about so we’re happy that now we can express ourselves as we want to, our manager is now a woman so we feel more supported’’
Actress, broadcaster and musician Preeya Kalidis stated ‘’it’s a brilliant initiative, when I got the call from Carla I was down. There are so many women in this industry I know who I admire and respect and its great that we come together to recognise and support each other. To be able a point of call or contact to reach out to when you need an ear, network or mentor is important. Keep pushing, persevering and don’t take no for an answer’’.
TV presenter and model Lizzie Cundy gushed ‘’I love it when women do well in business. I was in a football business where women weren’t allowed to be now I see Karen Brady and I love that things re changing. People think that women don’t know about football or politics, I have so many examples of when people have asked ‘what would you know, you’re a girl’ so I’m fighting for women’s rights. You have to believe in yourself and make sure you’re not paid less than a man doing the same job. Women are just as good and sometimes better than men at the same jobs, don’t underestimate us’’
Carla Marie Williams made a speech on the night. It was so passionate, I asked her to share it with me so that I could share it with you.
I can’t tell you the countless times I would sit amongst my male friends back in the day one of 5 guys discussing the girls from the endz they rated and the masses of girls they didn’t. I always use to want to fly high among these opinions and impress my male peers coz I wanted to be a Girl they Rate. From a young age I would bring together masses of girls in my year at primary school then later in my area that I rated. If the boys could do it so could I, so could we! So today my aim was to bring together and sit amongst women I rate to celebrate each other and be the first annual gathering to landmark our successes, build a network and to create a voice that will be heard
My aspirations today aren’t just to highlight inequality of men and women but forge the gap in the community amongst women. I admire how men work together build together and take their personal and professional relationships seriously ….For years I would sit and anguish over the lack of female presence in our industry I would battle with my female colleagues and peers as to why their passion to support and see each other win was so minimal but then I realised I was talking with the wrong people! the only way to find like minded women was to create a table a platform for like minded women and see who would come to the table.
So there we have it! Girls I rate! 90! like minded women all at one table in one room! We’ve started with 90 who knows what the future will hold but I’m grateful for all who I know or am now getting to know for their support and may we continue to be those special girls that both boys & girl rate!
Thank You Girls I Rate!
MOBO Awards CEO Kanya King also made a speech, which once again I want to share with you all.
‘’Today is International Women’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate the contributions women are making in all facets of life. Women are without doubt the backbone of our society, however they are still greatly outnumbered in many sectors of the workforce such as the Creative Industries.
The Creative Industries are a major driving force for our economic growth. They contribute to the UK economy and account for nearly 6% of all UK jobs so more opportunities would seem apparent therefore.
When I started working in the music industry I found it a very isolating experience. There were not many senior women and no one really spoke to each other unless they were passing each other in the corridors at an event. I am now fortunate to have a fantastic network of friends (like Jasmine Dotiwala) and we talk about anything and everything and at the same time provide much needed support and guidance. No one is being judged, this is invaluable. It is like being able to do what you want knowing there is a safety net underneath you.
Looking back it has now been over 20 years MOBO has inspired and influenced a generation of artists to aspire to greatness. Every act who has ever been nominated or won a MOBO Award has their own story to tell.
Last year we got to tell more stories beyond the realms of music when we launched the MOBO Season – a month of ground breaking cultural and educational event under the banner of #RiseWithUs. The Season was set up to not only celebrate established talent but also future talent from across the creative arts. Underpinning the Season we created nearly 30 MOBO fellowships.
This is why I am proud to support Girls I Rate to celebrate and champion women across the creative industries so when Carla approached us a little while ago, it was a no brainer for me and for MOBO to become an official partner of this great initiative. Carla and GIR have been a fantastic supporter of MOBO’s emerging talent initiative MOBO UnSung, which is our nationwide talent competition which supports and develops the next crop of urban music talent via a 12 month artist development programme including seminars, workshops, a nationwide tour and studio sessions. As part of this Carla last year ran a fantastic songwriting workshop and this year we will jointly go one better and provide the female members of the UnSung class with a two day studio session which will provide them with another brilliant opportunity.
Empowering the next generation and providing them with opportunities to develop as people is essential to the future of this country, so to see what the GIR initiative represents and how it will inspire many young ladies is hugely positive and we therefore look forward to continuing our work with Carla and Girls I Rate.
Overall it is fantastic to see more women supporting other women. Everyone has their moment to shine because it is all cyclical so it is nice to be part of a group whereby you get to champion others and offer advice. This always comes back to you even if it is not from the person you were initially helping.
So here’s to you, a toast to all the wonderful ladies doing inspirational work and supporting others. We salute you!’’
The Gift Bags were actually really very cool! They included: a Superdrug Gift bag with £50 worth of products, Stonehealth Clinic £100 voucher, Aria Hair & Mica Beauty Voucher, Fake Bake Honey Brûlée Bath Drizzle, Well Woman Vitiabiotics, Active Woman Multi Shakers, Baylis & Harding Limited Edition Gold Hand Wash, Red Bull, SensatioNail Starter Kit & LAB2UK brushes.
GIRLS I RATE is supported by MOBO Organisation and will offer panel discussions, workshops, mentoring and work placements across the year and beyond, more information can be found at www.girlsirate.com.
The GIRLS I RATE purpose and mission is to:
* Celebrate and highlight the successes of diverse women in the Creative Industries,
* Encourage equal opportunity for women in the industry and create a platform of “Voice”
• Connect them to build an industry-wide network, with engagement across all ages and ethnicities
• Stimulate collaborations across industry boundaries
• Provide debate, discussion and support
• Create opportunities for the next generation of women wanting to enter the creative industries via NEET (Need for Employment Education and Training)
It takes the Carla’s of this world to brave the storm, and speak up when her peers may not be so brave, or worry about negative repercussions.
We need more Carla’s to stand up and be counted. After all, they say if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.
In the pursuit of excellence there is no finish line.