Ahead of International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8th March when Do-Well will be hosting a FikaFink pop up café on this year’s theme of Choose to Challenge, café host and band member Pamela Ball shares more about why she’s so passionate about equality and her hopes for shifting society to a better place for the future.
I am often asked why I am so passionate about equalities and my feminism.
I am proudly feminist, a label which can still unfortunately be used to continue outdated stereotypes of women, but which is simply someone who believes that women should have all of the same rights, opportunities and choices as men.
Rural post war America
I was raised in rural post war America in a large, traditional appearing family. I had a stay-at-home mom and a blue-collar dad and often found my role as next to the youngest out of seven children both fun and trying. We were raised without much money but with an abundance of books, music , daily newspapers, and a family with a bent towards discussing politics.
I was very bright, an early reader and quite sensitive to conflict and controversy. So, by my early teens I began to develop a world view that was quite sensitive to social issues.
This included my strong views about my mother’s lot in life when placed in the context of the growing feminist movement of the seventies.
First feminist narrative
I built my first feminist narrative around my long-suffering mother, using her role as a very intelligent woman who was “forced” to stay at home caring for seven children to underpin my growing awareness of lack of opportunities for women.
I was also at that time heavily influenced by social unrest - the Vietnam war and tv coverage of young people living life very differently than previous generations.
Protests and calls for all kinds of freedom and change were a part of the daily lexicon. This all sat within the context of my very small-town upbringing that was ladened with examples of systemic patriarchal and cultural sexism and misogyny, which led me to develop an acute awareness of social injustice.
I went on to university where exposure to progressive agendas, a higher level of civil discourse around women and equalities, and exposure to a heretofore unimagined social life, led to first debate, a bit of bra burning (!) and engagement in much more sophisticated models of learning. While I learned that context was not everything, it did help me examine more deeply what challenges society faced.
I drank up feminist literature (and quite a bit of beer!) and found heroes in Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I envied Helen Gurley Brown while admiring from afar the likes of Gloria Steinem and Germaine Greer. I wanted to work at Ms, America’s first national feminist magazine.
Equalities for all and justice for everyone
The spark in me that railed against Vietnam and lack of opportunity for women solidified into a woman who believed passionately in pacifism, equalities for all and justice for absolutely everyone.
Over the years my views of injustice and inequalities were tempered by the realities of parenthood, making a living, and understanding that what things look like are NOT necessarily what they represent.
In the end I have arrived at both a much more tempered view of my parents, of life and of its realities, while at the same time growing more concerned at the lack of progress with regards to inequalities and progressive social justice.
Shifting society to a better place
I have been fortunate to find good and meaningful work over the years, but I still have never quite fulfilled my aim to address with a hammer those inequalities and their accompanying injustices that can really shift society to a better place.
I do still feel as keenly or even more so the sting and horror of injustice and inequalities that can leave women and children, once again, worse off during an unprecedented pandemic.
I take the view today that values led work and culture are one of the key ways to address the growing concerns about inequalities. That leadership must be about authenticity, genuine congruence in behaviours that reflect positive values and that seek impactful cultural change.
With that, I believe we are all called to act where and when we can, to challenge directly when we see racism in front of us, to not be complacent within the privilege afforded us by gender, race, or education.
In particular we have a duty to ensure our young women have the role models and opportunities that they need in order to fully take part in our world. My mantra for our next generation of young women is that they cannot be, what they cannot see!
The only true calling that we can share is a calling to do the right thing. To challenge and to care. It is only with consciousness and shared activism that societal shifts happen.
As such, I would be honoured if you would join Do-Well and myself on International Women’s day on the 8th March in one of our FikaFink pop-up cafes to discuss the challenges we all face and what we might do about them.
And I hope that you too, might consider proudly calling yourself a feminist.