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Us Girls Rock!!!

Us Girls took to centre stage last Saturday (8th of March) to celebrate International Women’s Day 2014. All across Redbridge events were taking place in aid of this important day, from suffragette walks to movie screenings to lectures and books readings – we had it all! Us Girls took an energetic approach to their celebrations and gathered over 100 women and girls to take part in their special activity day ‘Us Girls Rock’.

Dressed in their free Us Girls Rock t-shirts the ladies got stuck in with events including: Zumba, Boxfit, Rebounding and Rounders. A chill out area providing free massages was set up to allow participants to calm down and unwind after a vigorous day of exercise.

You can check out footage of the Zumba Flash Mob here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUkYHSc89zg&feature=youtu.be

The day was a huge success and Us Girls are excitedly looking forward to doing it again in the future. Well done to all the lovely ladies that got involved! Here’s to another successful International Women’s day! The battle for equality continues.

Post Author: Emily Polling

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Championing Strong Female Voices: International Women’s Day – The power of unity amongst women

Observed since the early 1900s, International Women’s Day remains a prominent day of appreciation and celebration of women’s progression and achievements throughout history. Spanning from social to political and economic issues, women who were previously denied voices, began to emerge and demand recognition, in aspects including a woman’s right to vote and equality in the workplace. It is undeniable that society today owes a great deal to the sacrifices and determination of women’s groups and campaigns for an improved and fairer society. History has seen the impact and importance of women working together to achieve something beneficial to all.

A perfect example of the advantages of unity amongst women is the way they stand behind multiple campaigns for breast cancer awareness. One of its campaigns include bra banks, in which women can deposit their old bras in one of these nifty bright pink banks and they will be sent to Africa to aid their textile industry and improve lives of many families involved. Not only this, but it raises money for research into breast cancer, and if that wasn’t enough, it is also a good way of the bras avoiding an eternity confined to a landfill site. This is such a monumental campaign as it not only highlights the power of unity amongst women but it shows how this unity can have a positive and long lasting impact on life, not just in the UK.

The bra banks also help women in their openness about breast cancer, by just seeing women donating their bras in that iconic pink box can make a world of difference and bring a sense unity to the suffering that comes with breast cancer.

The Big Bra Hunt by Oxfam UK is another opportunity for women to give their bras a new lease of life either in the UK or all the way in Senegal where they are sold through their social enterprise, Frip Ethique. The money goes to battling poverty throughout the country and around the world. While The Big Bra Hunt may be misinterpreted as going against women’s rights, Oxfam claim ‘All communications around the campaign are designed to avoid objectifying women’s bodies or sexualising bras’. It is absolutely vital that it is the hard work of the women in this campaign that is illuminated and remains at the heart of the project. In fact, it is interesting to point out that it is the women on the front line of Senegal’s social enterprise that request the bras, as they are the most valuable items when it comes to selling them on to the local markets.

So, by keeping up the donations of bras over here, we can do our bit to support the women of Senegal by securing their employment and bettering their lives through the social change brought about the monetary investment made to fight poverty.

 

1)    Oxfam quote and information found at: https://www.oxfam.org.uk/donate/the-big-bra-hunt

 

Post Author: Raeesa Mukhtar


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Championing Strong Female Voices: International Women’s Day

A friend mentioned to me the other day that although he had really enjoyed his school days, he did not know many women who had said the same. Generalisation though this is, it nonetheless seems to be one that holds some water. I’m sure there are arguments to be made attributing this to the differing ways boys and girls often handle stress, and the varying effects of hormones once puberty hits, but I believe there is a strong case to be made for many of the problems coming down to the differences in the way society treats the genders. More specifically, I think the problem lies in the ways we are taught to treat each other.

The UN theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (celebrated on March 8th all across the globe) isEquality for Women is Progress for All’. Although I’m glad this sentiment is finally being given centre stage, it’s well over-due. It’s easy to stand on your soap box, preaching about oppression of and lack of opportunities for women whose own countries, own religions, own families are seemingly against them, but the reality is that we are far from getting it right ourselves. Not to mention how far our tabloid-soaked society is from really understanding the complexities in the assumed oppression of certain women. Does this mean we shouldn’t consider any women to be oppressed? No, of course not – there are so many women out there desperately needing help. Does this mean, from a wealthy, white male-orientated societal position, that we should assume all women, for instance choosing to cover their hair and faces, are oppressed? Again no, of course not. You can’t tell with just a glance and a quick generalisation why a woman chooses to present herself in a certain way. And again, we are far from being in a position to make such judgements. We are bombarded by images of surgically-enhanced and photoshopped women flaunting their assets whilst we proclaim them to be the pinnacle of desirability, and yet a woman attempting to emulate that in real life will be subject to abuse and victim-blaming.

This brings me back to my original point, that I think what we’re teaching in schools is the real crux of the matter. Schools – particularly senior schools – reflect the wider social conditions of their locations, as well as holding a mirror to the country as whole. Perhaps the problem is not only that there simply isn’t enough emphasis on equality, but that there are not enough discussions taking place about the nature of the society we grow up into. The problem won’t disappear overnight, but if it was a compulsory part of the national curriculum to study and understand things like gender differences and choices, alongside sexuality and sexual identity, then hopefully understanding would turn into respect. Understanding and respecting someone’s choices doesn’t mean that you have to make those choices yourself, but it does remove the stigma and fear that accompany the unknown.

This then, should be where accurately teaching Feminism comes into play. The first and most important – and most commonly misunderstood or ignored – aspect of Feminism, is that it is far greater than just being an argument for women’s rights. Feminism is not just designed to benefit a certain group of women, but to benefit everyone, even those resistant to its changes. As the UN puts it; ‘Equality for Women is Equality for All’. In real terms, equality for women means happier, and therefore more productive, workplaces; better educated women with more earning potential, who in turn spend more money and help to drive the economy; happier and more equal home lives, thereby relieving the pressure on men who often feel that society dictates it’s up to them to shoulder the burden of familial responsibility; and the general opening up of equality for everyone. If women can gain their equality, then how can equality ever be denied to anyone else? And if in schools we thoroughly teach the basic necessity for equality and for treating each other with respect, perhaps that will stop some of the problems causing women to look back on their school days as less-than-happy. If we can remove the imagined need to fight amongst ourselves over the things society dictates women ought to obsess over – principally attractiveness, appearances and men – then perhaps we can all move forward together as a society. Once again, ‘Equality for women is Equality for All’, and we still have a long way to go.

 

Post Author: Jessica Polling. 


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We go live on the National Lottery!

Last Saturday our very own Active4life co-ordinator Gemma Tully was invited to appear live on the National lottery! Alongside three other ecstatic girls (Anne-Marie Asenso, Amina Akbar and Madhuri Joshi), Gemma represented the Redbridge arm of ‘Us Girls’.

Already tingling with excitement the lucky four waited apprehensively for their lift to arrive. Who would be picking them up? What vehicle would they get? How many stars were they likely to see wandering around the television studios?

Suddenly a glamorous people carrier, complete with blacked out windows, pulled up outside. Was this for them? Nervously the girls exchanged glances. Surely this type of car was reserved for celebrity transportation?

A darkened window rolled smoothly down and they were greeted with a smile and an assurance this vehicle was for them. Tumbling into the car, Gemma and co were treated to a luxury trip complete with free drinks and private Wi-Fi.

At about 5pm the girls arrived at Pinewood Studios and were swiftly taken to their Green Room. ‘There were sofas, cushions, a huge TV, fruit baskets, refreshments, sweets and snacks. We were loving it!’ said an overjoyed Gemma. ‘After a briefing about the day and chatting with the other people appearing on the show, we sat down with the stylist who helped us all put together our outfits for the show. Then we had our hair and makeup done and went straight to rehearsal.’

Radio 2 DJ and National Lottery host Chris Evans greeted everyone before running through the show, which our girls were particularly happy about. ‘After the rehearsals it was straight back to the green room for a quick dinner and final touch ups, then to the studio for our live broadcast!’  Exclaimed Gemma.

The show went ahead flawlessly and the knackered girls were chauffeured home.  After recovering from the whirlwind adventure into television and glitterati Gemma told us, ‘We thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, it was brilliant!’

Well done ladies, it was a great show and you did us all proud!

Post Author: Emily Polling

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Us Girls Friday Circuits

We’ve got that Friday feeling and after a busy week, it’s definitely time to wind down! What better way to blow off some steam and get ready for the weekend than taking part in an energising circuits class?

Ladies if you’ve been sitting cramped in an office all day then get yourselves moving this evening with Us Girls Circuits. Here at the Do More Office we just found out that sitting all day can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease and even death! We had the fear of sitting put into us by the Vision Sports team, and now we’re frantically trying to keep up with their hourly squats and move a bit more often. It was even suggested that we get a treadmill fixed to our desk…

An exercise class could be the perfect solution to your atrophying muscles, and keep you fit and healthy. Pop down tonight to Vine Church Hall, Ilford for the Us Girls Circuits Session. The class takes place between 5.45 pm – 6.45 pm, costing just £2 per person.

For the latest up to date Us Girls information visit the Redbridge i or follow them on Twitter at @usgirlsred.

Post Author: Emily Polling