An interview with Manuela from Fawcett Society

We are so excited to introduce you to the incredible work of the Fawcett Society.
This autumn, we're collaborating with this brilliant feminist charity to offer a special Rare Birds x Fawcett Society book bundle - the books have been chosen by the Fawcett Society team and proceeds from the bundle will go towards supporting the work that they do.
Today on the blog we have the FS's Sr. Partnerships and Membership Engagement Officer, Manuela Campbell, who is telling us more about this brilliant organisation and sharing some fascinating new insights, too.

Tell us a bit about you and your role within Fawcett Society.


I am the Sr. Partnerships and Membership Engagement Officer, which is a mouthful! But it means I get to find new and exciting ways to work with feminists throughout the UK to grow our movement. This includes partnering with companies who share our values as well as engaging with women from all walks of life who join our organisation. I feel so lucky to have this job because I get to meet incredible women (and men!).

What is the main aim of Fawcett Society?


The Fawcett Society fights for gender equality and women’s rights. We achieve this by producing strong research and data and then we mobilise our members, partners and allies to campaign for change that will positively impact women and girls. Our research and campaigning centre on equal pay, equal rights, equal power and ending gender stereotypes.
Currently we are responding to the coronavirus outbreak with our #MakeWomenVisible campaign, which has impacted women’s lives in all the areas we work in, from a regression of household roles during lockdown, to unstable employment and low pay for women in the care sector, to an overall lack of women’s voices in the Government’s decision-making during this crisis.

After a globally unprecedented start to the year, what are the charity’s plans for the rest of 2020?


This year marks 50 years since the Equal Pay Act and we had planned to really focus on this issue all year, we even launched a new bill in parliament in February that modernises the law on equal pay. However, we quickly saw the need to focus on the gendered impact of the coronavirus and work to ensure women and girls were not left behind during this crisis, hence our #MakeWomenVisible campaign. We will continue with this important campaign because as we ease out of lockdown we must ensure that the Government’s recovery planning includes women’s voices and accounts for our needs. It remains a very male-centric process.
In addition to this campaign, we are also continuing our work on equal pay – including researching pay and progression for women of colour, we will produce a report from our commission on gender stereotypes in early childhood, and we are encouraging women throughout the UK to get involved in public life with our Equal Power campaign. There is so much to do!

We are really excited about the collaboration between Rare Birds Book Club and Fawcett Society, what kind of books do you like to read in your spare time?


I enjoy reading contemporary fiction, especially right now as it provides a bit of much needed escapism. I’m not overly devoted to any one genre, I tend to rely heavily on recommendations from friends and colleagues. Usually if I liked one book someone recommended to me I know I’ll like the others they suggest. A recent favourite of mine is Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere.

Why should people consider either purchasing our new Rare Birds x Fawcett Society book bundle, or donating directly to you? What will donations be put towards?


I am really excited about the books in our bundle because they were all suggested by my brilliant colleagues. Supporting the Fawcett Society means that you are helping to further the feminist cause. We are constantly monitoring the political landscape for what developments could turn back the clock on women’s rights and equality. Our wins are important, but we can’t take them for granted. So it’s important we can respond quickly to current events with our research and campaigning. The money raised will ensure that we can do this work rapidly.

How can individuals take action against gender inequality?


You can join Fawcett! Members receive several benefits, including a welcome pack, our annual StopGap magazine, weekly newsletters with some great content, and more. You also have opportunities to connect to other feminists through our events and local groups.

Which woman do you most look up to and why?


There are so many women I admire – past and present. At the moment I remain in awe of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I wish I could speak as strongly and articulately as she does. And she appears to have not been burdened with imposter syndrome they way so many of us are. I also have to highlight Millicent Fawcett. I treasure my rights, especially my right to vote, and I will never forget the hard-fought fight to win that right.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to any of our Rare Birds reading this?


Don’t be shy about embracing the feminist label. Even though I have worked in women’s equality and rights since my days in university, there were times when I shied away from saying: ‘I’m a feminist’ because I worried how people would react. But that’s exactly why I should shout it from the rooftops. I am what a feminist looks like. And so are you.

What impact have you found the pandemic has had on the women the Fawcett Society is working to help?


Here are some stats from our ongoing research:
• Six out of ten women (61%) are finding it harder to stay positive day-to-day, compared with 47% of men and women are much more worried about our nation as a result of Coronavirus. (Ipsos MORI and Fawcett)
• Half of women (49%) say they are very concerned about the risk the virus poses to the country, compared with a third (36%) of men. (Ipsos MORI and Fawcett)
• 3% of disabled or retired BAME women and 48% BAME men say that they had lost government support compared with 13% of white women and 21% white men in the same group. (Women’s Budget Group, Fawcett Society, Queen Mary University London and LSE)
• Over half (51%) of disabled or retired BAME women also said they were not sure where to turn to for help compared with 1 in 5 (19%) of white women. (Women’s Budget Group, Fawcett Society, Queen Mary University London and LSE)
• 56% of disabled women say social isolation has been difficult to cope with, compared with 42% of non-disabled women (Women’s Budget Group, Fawcett Society, Queen Mary University London and LSE)
• 63% of disabled women have struggled to access what they need from the shops, and 6 in ten also fear missing out on medicines (Women’s Budget Group, Fawcett Society, Queen Mary University London and LSE)
• 63% of disabled women said they were struggling to cope with the different demands on their time (Women’s Budget Group, Fawcett Society, Queen Mary University London and LSE)
• 53% of disabled women reported high levels of anxiety (Women’s Budget Group, Fawcett Society, Queen Mary University London and LSE)