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BLOG: International Women's Day

Illustrated women are drawn in a circle all looking to the right. The image has a blush pink background with 'International Women's Day' written underneath the illustrated women.

Today is International Women's Day! We're celebrating all the amazing and tenacious women who work across the Rape Crisis network. Over the past year staff and volunteers in Rape Crisis Centres have delivered a record number of specialist services, supporting almost 75k survivors and their supporters. We spoke to just a few of the incredible women working across the movement about what motivates them, how they got involved in Rape Crisis, and the women they admire.


What is the best thing about your job?

Working with an amazing group of talented women who care about violence against women and girls and have the drive and tenacity to make a difference for survivors.

Can you tell us about a woman you admire and why?

I admire all the women at the Centre for Women's Justice because they are smart, efficient and have found a way to put power back into the hands of so many survivors whose rights would otherwise be overlooked and ignored by agencies.


How did you get involved in the Rape Crisis Movement?

When I moved to a new area I saw an advert for an Open Evening at the local Rape Crisis Centre asking “Are you angry about injustice for women and girls”, and went along.  That was thirty years ago now!

What inspires you to do the work that you do?

The amazing survivors we support and how much strength they bring to their journeys.


Can you tell us about a woman you admire and why?

A woman/girl I admire is my daughter. She has made me a better woman, a mother and makes me want to fight for a future that I want to see her feel empowered in. To have a voice. To have freedom. I admire the women I work with, whether that is the clients I support or my colleagues. The togetherness that comes from being a woman in an organisation that empowers and believes in women helps bring natural change, and promotes growth within and that can’t be ignored, minimized or shut down. Together we are powerful.

What inspires you to do the work that you do?

What inspires me to do the work I do is the need to help alleviate human suffering. To be able to help women overcome one of the most traumatic things that may have happened. I am privileged to have the ability to do that, and to bear witness to the journeys these incredible women take. I am inspired every day, to empower women, tackle adversity and bring about change in the VAWG sector in any little way I can. I might not be able to change the world, but I can help change my part in it.


How did you get involved in the Rape Crisis Movement?

I was inspired by the way the Rape Crisis movement emerged as grassroots response to gender based violence, and I think the best of the movement retains that survivor-centred grassroot ethos. My journey into the sector started at University when I worked with my local RC centre when I helped set-up a Reclaim the Night march. I then worked on the National Rape Crisis Helpline after I finished my Masters. I eventually applied for a role as an ISVA at Survivors’ Network. Seeing the extent to which survivors in our society are silenced and marginalised made me believe in the necessity of independent advocacy, founded on principles of empowerment and belief. I continue to work at Survivors’ Network because I believe in the intersectional feminist principles that we hope to hold ourselves accountable to, and I believe that if anything is going to eradicate sexual violence, it will involve services founded on these principles.  

What is the best thing about your job?

I think there is something really important about opening up discussions around how we can support survivors, and channelling our values into those discussions. The best thing about my job, for me, is developing training which reflects on and centres the voices and needs of survivors. Focusing on trying to make our training trauma-informed and intersectional and embedding principles of empowerment throughout it has energised me as I’ve taken on this role.

It feels like such a privilege to spend my day discussing the importance of these topics, breaking down gender stereotypes and myths about sexual violence, and creating space for learning, unlearning and growth.
On my best days, it feels like we are equipping the community to better respond to sexual violence, and helping them to reflect on the ways we can prevent it from happening.


What is the best thing about your job?

Enabling spaces for the voices of victims and survivors of sexual violence and abuse to be heard either individually or through my Rape Crisis service.

What’s your biggest challenge?

Repeating myself at local regional and national statutory meetings for over 30 years continually raising, to meeting members' surprise, that victims and survivors of sexual violence and abuse do exist and have specific needs that are not being discussed or met within their sphere of organisational influence. This chipping away is certainly an eternal challenge. 


What's the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is to offer my clients the opportunity to express themselves openly in a safe environment that is free of judgment. It is powerful to see a person walking away excited to live their own personal journey after healing from trauma. It is a true honour to be invited into the heart of a client who is hurt so deeply. And it is a true privilege to know that you have made difference in their lives. Helping others is my passion, I really love my job. And I can't think of a better way to fulfil my life.

Why do you think is important to celebrate International Women's Day?

It is important to celebrate International Women's Day to raise our voice and to point public attention in the direction of gender equality and human rights, Women's rights. Can you imagine that we still live in a society where every single woman is being blamed for the sexual violence she experienced? How about man's responsibility? It is important to stand together sisters and to support and respect each other, despite our ethnicity, culture, religion or language. It is important to raise our voice not only on the 8th of March, but every day.  We women have strength to make a difference and to change the World. 

And to all women in Ukraine, who are fighting for their country, I would like to add: 
тримайся. We love you sisters!