I have always had inspiring women in my life.
The first woman to inspire me was of course, my mum. My mum was what I would describe as a “50s housewife” for the first part of my life.
She was (and still is) a wonderful mother, she cooked, cleaned, baked and ran the house through an “allowance” from my dad; sometimes having to steal an extra tenner from his wallet in order to make ends meet. The thought of wearing trousers was, back then, something she could not even entertain.
Our world changed when my dad died when I was eight. From being the housewife who had no dealings with money or the finances had to overnight turn herself into the mum and the dad. The person who had to deal with it all and she dealt with it like a warrior.
She showed me what it was to be strong. How to deal with things when life throws you that hard curve ball.
Two more amazing women came into my life in later years. My best friend V who has had my back from when we first met in school. Someone who decided that she wanted to help people more and created a business on the back of it. She now works alongside the NHS making a difference in people’s lives.
My other great friend S, who inspires me to say what I think. Someone who has helped the most vulnerable women in our society and continues to do so, now by teaching the young.
I only found Womanchester last year. I had been talking about women’s rights for a few years but had never before found a group of women who not only shared my beliefs, but supported each other, so much.
I found them around the time when Jean Hatchet was organising her first “Ride for Murdered Women”. Bike rides had been organised all around the country and I really wanted to be involved in some way, especially after interviewing Jean on my old blog.
Not being able to ride a bike was a problem……. But when I discovered that Womanchester were organising a bike ride in Manchester, I knew that I had to go. Even just to show support.
What I found when I went was a wonderful group of women. Kind to my awkward, shy and anxious self who welcomed me into their fold. Later I would attend meetings and meet some of them again. One meeting in particular springs to mind that was out of the way and I knew it was likely (thankfully not) that activists may be protesting.
I arrived a little late thanks to public transport, only to find one of the group R, who had never met me before and only spoken to on WhatsApp, waiting for me to make sure I got in ok. That is sisterhood. That is what women are.
When women band together, nothing can stop us. The woman who hears you crying in a bathroom stall and makes sure you are ok. The woman who sits next to you on the train because you are being harassed and she wants to ensure you are safe.
The women who actively fight for our rights, every single day.
The group of women who I speak to daily who inspire me, encourage me and make me want to be a better woman. Women who I can share my thoughts with, who feel the same.
Women are amazing. That is why I am celebrating them today, on International Women’s Day.
By Vicky Frankland