Just as strong. Just as smart. Just as equal.
For International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021, we are taking a stand to fast forward gender equality. Since 2006, female empowerment has been a driving force of Monki’s mission. So, when the UN says “…the global gender gap will not close for another 100 years.” We say, “we won’t wait!” The key focus for us is to fast forward the United Nations Sustainability Development Goal 5 for gender equality. Through continuing to break stigmas, building strong non-profit partnerships and inspiring YOU, our community, to salute sisterhood!
“Monki is a purpose driven fashion brand, and together with our community, partners and collaborators we want to be part of driving change in the world. We believe we have the responsibility to use our global platform for good. To change how women are represented in the industry, to promote self-love and to fast forward gender equality – so that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
– Jennie Dahlin-Hansson, Managing Director at Monki.
Disclaimer: when we use the word ‘women’ we are including everyone who identifies with that word.
Meet the ambassadors.
We wanted to hand the mic to three inspiring changemakers that are leading the way for gender equality. We got the opportunity to chat with India, Sonya and Honey about all things women’s empowerment, leadership and why they won’t wait 100 years for gender equality. Get the full scope in the Q&As below!
Psst. stay tuned for the upcoming films and Polyester x Monki podcast episodes right here or on our Instagram @monki.
Toolbox for change film | 10 March
Polyester x Monki podcast episode | 11 March
Q: Hi India! Can you introduce yourself?
A: Hello! I’m India and I am an intersectional-feminist activist, co-founder of The Speak Up Space and co-host of The Accidental Activist podcast.
Q: Can you tell us about The Speak Up Space (TSUS)?
A: The Speak Up Space is an online listening and signposting space for any survivor of sexual violence, harassment and anything that correlates. We also post empowering and educational content for our followers because we believe that education is the first step towards hopefully creating a world without sexual violence.
Q: What was your activist journey pre-TSUS?
A: I’ve always been someone that’s interested in gender equality. While I was at college, I was the president of the feminist society which was mainly about creating a safe space for feminists to come along and feel a sense of solidarity.
In terms of sex education, I’ve always been really interested in it because my sex ed at school was really poor! I did a lot of my own research in my spare time to find out the many things that my curriculum simply missed. I then started to become the friend that would give out advice to my friends regarding their sexual health, relationships and so on which I actually quite liked so it’s nice to be able to channel that interest into TSUS too.
Q: What/who empowered you to speak up?
A: I’ve always been very interested in social justice and politics – it’s in my nature because of my family and my friends. When you’re engaged in these topics, you find more and more people who are using their voices and what they have to create change. Speaking up is hard, it’s exhausting but I continue to feel inspired and empowered every day by the people around me and in my community.
Q: What is one change that would have a positive impact on preventing gender-based violence (GBV)?
A: We deserve nuanced discussions around gender-based violence and what causes it in schools and work environments. We need to be having these conversations among friendship groups, colleagues, family members and so on.
I’m also a huge supporter of making public sexual harassment illegal because it’s “low level” stuff that can escalate into very dangerous and harmful behaviour. Our Streets Now is a brilliant campaign to support if you want to contribute to the cause!
Q: What are 3 things about GBV that you wish more people would know?
1. While GBV disproportionately affects women and femmes, anyone can be a victim of it. Anyone can be affected regardless of gender, privilege, finances, location or anything else.
2. Survivors of GBV don’t owe anyone a specific reaction. There’s no correct way to react when something happens. It doesn’t make your experiences any more or less valid and it certainly shouldn’t affect if people believe you or not.
3. It’s important to tackle what might be considered “low-level” acts of GBV such as public sexual harassment because the acceptance of so-called low-level acts of GBV create an environment that allows acts like this to escalate.
When it comes to sexual violence and harassment, there is not enough being done to stop people actually committing these acts. Schools, universities, companies, society as a whole does not put enough emphasis on prevention. There always seems to be so much conversation around what people can be doing to not get harassed or not get assaulted when in reality we need to tell people to not harass and assault.
Q: Do you have some tips for others on how they lead in their own way?
A: If you want to support or lead then you need to educate yourself. Education fuels passion. Once you’re armed with knowledge, you can pass that onto friends, followers, colleagues and if you want to, you can make something of that.
Q: What are some of your fave resources where people can seek support, education or even donate?
• The Speak Up Space offers listening, signposting to services and resources, but we’re also always happy to answer questions too. You can donate to us via our website thespeakupspace.format.com
• The Survivors’ Trust is a really great umbrella agency for anyone who has survived sexual violence. They also accept donations too so you can check them out at thesurvivorstrust.org
• Our Streets Now is a brilliant campaign I work with looking to end public sexual harassment! You can sign their petition and find out how to support them on their website ourstreetsnow.org
• leanin.org is also a brilliant place to head for information and resources!
Toolbox for change film | 17 March
Polyester x Monki podcast episode | 18 March
Q: Hi Sonya! Can you introduce yourself?
A: Hello, my name is Sonya Barlow. I’m an award winning entrepreneur, founder of @LMFnetwork, a not for profit social enterprise with a focus to reduce inequalities, a soon to be author with my debut titled Unprepared to Entrepreneur coming out in October and most importantly, a social activist passionate about gender equality and reducing biases.
Q: What is the LMF Network?
A: The LMF Network is a passion project turned into my life mission. Our core mission is to reduce inequalities through confidence building, career acceleration and capabilities upskilling. We do this through life skills programmes, a global mentoring programme, diversity training and community forums.
Q: What does ‘gender pay gap’ really mean?
A: Simply put, it’s the difference between what a “womxn” earns versus a “male” counterpart in the same or similar position, doing the same or similar job. It’s the extra life tax we pay being womxn in the workplace. As womxn, we are paid somewhere near 18% less and as an ethnic minority Pakistani womxn, that can be around 30%.
Q: What is one change that would have a positive impact on the gender pay gap?
A: The gender pay gap is a systemic and systematic barrier, which can be broken/changed overnight by policies and education, the question is why isn’t it? I personally had to relearn this and it was my partner (a man) who once told me to go back and negotiate – I was terrified but I did – and that negotiation gave me a £20K pay rise! That’s insane. IF I hadn’t negotiated, I’d possibly be earning £20K less than my counterpart in a similar position. That is shocking to think it’s that easy to create a gap or perpetuate it further!
Q: What are 3 things about gender pay gap that you wish more people would know?
• Policies: Each organisation knows from their data what their colleagues are being paid and a sure way to close the gap is to be fair and pay womxn what they deserve. Real change comes from policy and processes put into place – that’s what we are protesting for!
• Negotiate: There is always wiggle room with any and all budgets, however unfortunately womxn are less likely to negotiate. Add this to the fact that womxn are more likely to apply for something which they meet 80% of in basic job description requirements. For each and every opportunity moving forward, take a leap of faith if you can do 60% of the requirements and also re-negotiate at least 10% higher than what has been offered.
• The gender pay gap is only the starting point. We make up 50% of the global population – and the stats around ethnicity, race and socioeconomic backgrounds aren’t even in discussion. Without an intersectional lens, the gender pay gap is a human rights issue and in my eyes should be considered as one.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to the women of today?
A: My motto is fail fast, try everything and fail kind. This way, you try things and are able to tick off what you don’t enjoy and post it note what you do. Failure in big companies is called innovation, so failing as humans is evolution. Ironically, I failed so hard in 2019 that I ended the year with a TED talk which ultimately started my new life, this life. My TED talk is titled “Failure comes before resilience”.
Q: Do you have some tips for others on how they can lead in their own way?
A: I love mentoring and the idea of allyship, which basically means having someone who champions you! Before you go seeking, take a moment to reflect on WHY you want a mentor, WHAT is the goal and HOW do you define success? After identifying these three areas, share them with your network (even if it’s one person) and end with “I am looking for a mentor to support me in achieving my goals, do you think you may have someone who can invest an hour a month?”
If you never ask, you will never know what happens. Additionally, use social tools and community groups to share the same message. Worst case scenario, it may not work long term but I bet you have learnt something – which is the way to start and grow as a leader!
Q: Other than LMF Network – can you share some great resources where people can seek support, education or even donate?
A: A personal favourite social group and community of mine is the Female Lead, founded by inspiration Edwina Dunn. Alongside that, I am the D&I champion for YSYS & Hustle Crew, both founded on the foundations of educating around race topics and supporting marginalised communities. These social accounts are empowering, simple and educational! Given that we spend on average 3 hours online daily, I think it’s imperative that we follow positive accounts which empower us to become our best selves!
Toolbox for change film | 24 March
Polyester x Monki podcast episode | 25 March
Q: Hi Honey! Can you introduce yourself?
A: I’m Honey Kinny Ross, I’m a writer and co-host of the Body Protest Podcast. I’m also a fat babe, mother to two Devon rex cats and I’m just trying to survive.
Q: Can you tell us about The Body Protest?
A: The Body Protest is my absolute passion project – a marriage of both storytelling and science harnessed to help us better understand our varied and unique journeys with our bodies.
3 years ago I met the most incredible woman, Nadia Craddock – she’s a Harvard graduate and a Body Image Researcher – I was blown away by her calm and factual wisdom when it came to bodies. See, as someone who lives a larger body, my conversations around body image are based in lived experience, whereas Nadia brought to table a completely fresh and factual perspective. We created an intersectional podcast that covers a huge scope of different stories – Nadia brings the facts, and I bring the feelings.
Q: Do you believe social media can be used as a tool to fight for legislative/policy change?
A: I absolutely believe social media can be used as a tool to fight for policy change. In my early days of IG I had the pleasure of being one of the co-founders of The Feminist Activist collective, The Pink Protest. My fellow Co-Founders were Scarlett Curtis, Alice Skinner and Grace Campbell. In the time we were campaigning, we changed two laws and even organised a 2000 person protest outside of Downing street. With the right determination and people around you, you truly can plant the seeds of positive change through social media.
Q: What is one change that would have a positive impact on women’s empowerment?
A: A huge change that would have a positive impact on women’s empowerment would be to see more women in higher leadership roles. We need to normalise seeing women having much more power and control in every industry.
Q: Based on the UN, we will not achieve global gender equality for another 100 years. What do you say to that?
A: I say that’s ridiculous. We know that gender equality is possible, we’ve seen it achieved in Iceland. We need bold strokes and to continue fighting the patriarchy and the oppressive systems that have been in place for hundreds of years.
Q: Do you believe there is a connection between gender inequality and self-love?
A: There’s definitely a correlation between gender inequality and lack of self-love – and it affects everyone completely differently. We tend to see a pattern for a lot of women trying to shrink themselves and take up as little space as possible – both intellectually and physically, as a side effect of the society we live in.
Q: Do you have some tips for others on how they can find their voice?
A: Figure out the causes you are passionate about. Find the resources, listening and reading material, and get researching! There are people out there already fighting for the things you care about, find them and support them. And when the time is right, trust yourself and stand up for what you believe in.
Q: Other than The Body Protest and The Pink Protest – can you share some great resources where people can seek support, education or even donate?
• Voices 4 London
• Sick Sad Girls
• WE THE URBAN
• Scarred Not Scared
Our special sisterhood collection will inspire you to raise your voice, take up space and salute your sisters! Featuring the must-have oversized blazer adorned with statement badges, an organic cotton tee and the oh-so-comfy 3-piece loungewear set.Shop the collection here