Students Staff
University of Essex

April 19, 2017

Celebrating International Woman’s Day 2017

Filed under: Athena SWAN,Gender equality — Tags: , — Mohammed Alam @ 10:57 am

International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on 8th March. Thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. This year, Essex Women’s Network organised a number of events centred around the theme of Health and Wellbeing in order to mark this special occasion.

To start the day, Psychotherapist Vanessa Murphy ran an experiential mindfulness session, exploring ways in which the simple practices of mindful breathing and meditation could help us respond, rather than react, too stressful and difficult situations.

This was followed by an open discussion facilitated by Susie Morgan (Director of Human Resources) and Dr Valerie Gladwell (Senior Lecturer in Sports and Exercise Science) on the topic of health, wellbeing and maintaining a work-life balance.

We were also happily joined by Dr Caroline Marfleet, a Consultant in Family Planning and Reproductive Health at Colchester General Hospital, who provided information on the menopause. This was well attended by students and members of staff in Colchester and also in Southend, as the session was available via a live video broadcast. The session covered information such as the stages of the menopause, the symptoms and long-term impacts that may occur, how these symptoms can be reduced by using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and the potential side effects that HRT may cause. Dr Marfleet also answered questions from attendees both regarding the menopause and wider fertility topics.  If you would also like the slides used by Dr Marfleet during this session, please email Jamais Webb-Small at jwebbs@essex.ac.uk.

Alongside these sessions, there were also a number of events that were held throughout the day. Free NHS checks were conducted by ACE Lifestyle, and Emma New provided wellness profiles that included the measurement of fat percentage, muscle mass, bone density and water percentage. In addition to this, a number of stalls were also held on square 3. Some were run by organisations centred around the theme of health and wellbeing (such as Health in Mind, Mid and North Essex Mind, Robin Cancer Trust and Occupational Health) whilst others instead showcased the facilities that the University has to support staff and students (Parent’s Group and the Women’s Network), and to improve the University’s environment to allow for equality of all genders both within academic departments and professional services (Athena SWAN). The Women’s Network organised a free lunch of soup and bread through Hospitality Essex, with a collection pot for monetary contributions to be donated to Colchester and Tendering Women’s Refuge. A total of £77.36 was raised!

In addition to this, both members of the Colchester Soroptimists and the Students’ Union LGBT* and Friends Society also ran stalls in order to fundraise for their organisations and provide information about what their respective groups are about, the aims that they have, and the type of events that they hold for their members.

However, the highlight of the day for many was the Motivational, Empowering and Inspirational (M.E.I) Women’s award. Sixty members of staff and students across the University, who identify as women, were nominated by their peers, students, friends and colleagues to be recognised for their inspirational achievements and their empowering attitudes that motivate and encourage others to be the best that they can be.

The awards were opened by the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) and the Diversity Champion of Gender (including gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, Professor Aletta Norval. This year, the awards were attended by the Chancellor of the University, Shami Chakrabarti, who provided a short speech exemplifying the importance of recognising and celebrating the achievements of others both inside and outside of the University.  Shami humorously referred to the occasion as a ‘reverse Twitter’ as, in an era where online ‘trolling’, harassment and abuse are something that is experienced by many,  students and staff across all three of the University’s campuses nominated others anonymously for uplifting and remarkable reasons. Shami strongly stated that it is important to hold events like this, as the incredible impact that individuals have on others around them can often be forgotten or deemed as insignificant when faced with criticism, derogative comments and self-doubt.

Shami then commenced with presenting each nominee with their award by reading the reasons behind their nomination and inviting them down to collect their certificate.

The awards were extremely well attended, and enjoyed by all. One attendee said that it was “lovely to attend a ceremony based around honouring people for what they do to help others rather than purely on personal achievement.”

Some images from the day’s events can be found here.

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