International Women’s Day Event Champions Gender Equity

International Women’s Day was celebrated in Henley with an event at The Relais Hotel on Wednesday which was organised for the second year by Sarah Miller.

Sarah said, “This is too important, not to have this event in our town. It’s a chance to celebrate, commiserate, encourage, network and support each other.” She then gave examples of being treated differently growing up; not being served at the bar in a London pub and the difference in the men’s and women’s room in a members’ club.  Afterwards she added, “Times have changed or have they?”

Sarah then introduced the two speakers, Jane Emma Peerless and Sian Jarvis who are both champions of encouraging, supporting and motivating women in the workplace to talk about this year’s IWD campaign theme; gender equity and the difference between this and gender equality.  Jane Emma who runs a very successful FX company said, “People start from different places and therefore need different resources so that everyone can be on a level playing field.”

Sian, a political TV journalist turned top Government health communicator and now Chief Corporate Affairs and Marketing Officer at Huma (digital health company) added, “We need to give encouragement and confidence to young women to help them realise their ambition.”

Interviewed by Carolyn Ahara, Jane Emma and Sian then spoke about their experiences of not having gender equity in their roles during their careers which included wearing trousers to work in the 1980s and told to go home to change.  Talking about the improvements in gender equity, Jane Emma said that pandemic has given women the gift of hybrid working and more flexibility and how it has become normalised to see children appear in Zoom meetings. There is however still lots to be done to help women.  Sian commented, “Mothers need more help from the Government.  The cost of childcare is huge.”

Giving everyone a voice, how to overcome imposter syndrome and how you should support and encourage women to be the best they can were other topics that were covered.

The audience of around 50+ local women were then invited to ask questions of the speakers which included how to help people in vocational roles and barriers for people with disabilities in the work place.  Guests were treated to a glass of fizz thanks to Beechcroft Developments.

At the end of the evening, Alex Williams from Smartworks Reading charity spoke about their work in helping women back to work before the guests were invited to buy a raffle ticket to win a large beauty hamper worth £300.



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