Hayley Matthews: Girl power in action at the Scottish Women's Awards
Being heavily pregnant, I've not been working much as I walk like a penguin and feel like Arthur's Seat! However, there was one job that I couldn't turn down: hosting The Scottish Women's Awards 2018.
When I say celebrating the success of incredibly talented and determined women is a dream job, I’d be underplaying it massively.
I genuinely love nothing more than to see women succeed as highly successful career women, amazing mothers and incredible entrepreneurs. I’m a strong believer in gender equality in all walks of life, so when I was asked to host the awards I could think of nothing better than saying yes.
Many of the women up for awards are amazing females and it would be unfair for me to single any particular ones out. So instead, I’d like to wish all the women the very best of luck and whether they win an award or not, their achievements are awe-inspiring.
These women have shown how incredible they are in their fields – be it family business, business woman of the year, or rising star, they have all made huge a huge difference to society with their amazing work and determination.
Michelle Obama has always summed it up nicely for me and I admire her greatly. One of my favourite quotes from her reads: “Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected.” It’s as simple as that. In fact, almost everything she says rings true with me and while there are too many examples to quote I’d like to acknowledge her statement that “No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.” For me, this shows that women need to be both encouraged and acknowledged as equal citizens regardless whether they are a mother, a housewife, a lawyer or a dinner lady.
You were gifted life by a woman (with the help of a male obviously) so how cruel to suppress and quash her and her ambitions. Let’s acknowledge them instead.
I was trying to explain to my partner last week how having a family hits a woman’s career. Now, I appreciate that as women we have the amazing ability to carry and grow a baby, and that beats any career highlight (which for me was Scott Mills, listening to me and then tweeting that he was listening to me and thought I deserved a major job!) but we do take the hit, big time!
When you schedule in time off for maternity appointments, up to a year’s leave and then possibly only return to work part-time because you’re like a walking zombie, that adds up to a lot of missed opportunities. So to see women all over the country raise families whilst starting businesses and climbing the career ladder fills me with delight.
Even closer to my heart is the the awards’ charity partner, Smart Works, which does an amazing job of empowering women in need by providing them with the attire, advice, training and the confidence that they need to unlock their potential and succeed in the workplace.
I’m also delighted to see CEO of the Year because the higher up the chain you go, the fewer women there seem to be. The gender gap is still an issue that continues to pervade many industries, particularly in the technology and IT sectors. And, whilst the divide has been bridged to some degree within organisations, there are still fewer women at the senior level.
So to all the housewives, mothers, female CEOs, dinner ladies and policewomen, keep doing what you’re doing. The change is happening.
The Scottish Women’s Awards take place on Wednesday, September 12. To see the full list of finalists click here.