How iconic British women have inspired me to set up a new type of childcare
This March is women’s history month so I wanted to take time to reflect on where I am now, as a mother, as a business owner and as a female fundraiser. Like many of us, having children called the childcare crisis here in the U.K into close focus.
Over time I have become increasingly frustrated with what was, and still is available in the world of childcare to parents, the financial parent penalty incurred, the loss of self-identity from having to give up work, the guilt from having to spin all the plates only to have them crashing down, and the paper pushing on a macro level which has amounted to very little infrastructural change. These reasons and many more have led me to where I am now. And somewhat perversely I am grateful for it all. …most of the time.
I’ve been successfully fundraising with a view to grow Peace + Riot for several years now, and all during a pandemic, it’s bonkers when I think about it. And this fundraising has all happened in a funding climate where less than 1% of VC funding goes to sole female founders. I guess I’ve managed to ‘keep on truckin’ as they say (they do, don’t they? #42thisyear) not only because I have a great support network but there are thankfully so many women to take inspiration from and to keep me focused.
Here are the 5 women I think you’d all be better off knowing about. Enjoy!
When I was working in the education sector Christina Adane was responsible for the campaign to feed disadvantaged children, of which there were many in the boroughs I worked in in East London. These children were entitled to school meals free of charge in term-time but not provided for (at all) in the summer holidays, and so were at risk of hunger. Her work and commitment to changing policy is something I deeply respect- she saw a HUGE problem and changed it.
Eleanor Rathbone + Stella Creasy
Looking back through history I love Eleanor Rathbone- an independent MP who was responsible for the Family Allowances Act- no mean feat, a small push of HUGE significance, nowadays it’s Stella Creasy, her position as an MP has created an opportunity for the conversations, we as mothers need to happen at policy level.
Reading ‘How to be a Woman’ was an extraordinary experience – I just kept thinking ‘Well of COURSE this is how it is’. But there’s no of course about it – she articulated so many things that women experience but never really talk about – they can be joyful things, they can be sad things, but somehow because they were specific to me, a woman, they felt too small or too unimportant. Catlin absolutely changed that internalised viewpoint. The personal; the small is important – because a collective of small experiences becomes one big huge articulation of a shared experience and becomes one huge powerful voice. In ‘‘More than a Woman’, within it she says if you believe in something-, go for it, be that change, stick at it, spend your time wisely, focusing on betterment over judgment and unpicking what others haven’t done or achieved in their work. Be the agent of change.
I thought YES Catlin! I am going to put my thoughts into action, and I began researching childcare models. I know; ‘researching childcare models’ is as sexy as it sounds. Who said change needs to be sexy?
At times when I was doubting myself and thinking, can I really do this? I’ve been inspired by Anna Whitehouse who set up #flexappeal, the way she communicates with the working population some of whom happen to be parents means there is always laughter and a punchiness in her delivery to be had against the stark backdrop and real fight that is ‘flexible working rights’. That’s no mean feat – a lightness of touch with heavy subject matters is a real talent and one she’s put to amazing use.