Friday, September 21, 2012

The Food Waste Scandal

I always have a bit of a rant about food waste whenever I see people leaving, especially members of my family leaving food. I hate it when a tin of beans is opened, half used and the rest left int he fridge only to be thrown a few days later. I find some sell by and use by dates crazy.

I can see when potatoes are no longer edible, but I see people throw whole bags of perfectly good ones away because they have started to sprout or are a couple of days past a sell by date. The same applies to all fresh vegetables. I still buy them loose from a greengrocers if I can, that way there are no sell by dates and we can all use our heads.

Now I am not silly about this. I have been known to eat tinned food a year or so past the sell by date - but I usually chuck it if it is fish or egg or meat. But lets face it if biscuits or crisps are old you can tell from a bite if they are too soft or have lost their flavour and they are not going to cause any health problems.

So knowing that I throw away over £20 worth of perfectly edible food every month because it was not eaten, or passed its sell by date and having seen plates of food bined because they had been served up at a meeting for more than 2 hours, I was aware that food waste was a problem. But I had no idea of the true scale until I saw this video.


And if you are wondering what this has to do with Gender Equality,,,

Well food shortage always impacts women and children more than men. It is women who are largely responsible for domestic food management and women who are most impacted by poverty. And because it is women in the developed world who manage food consumption in the home, hopefully those same women will begin to realise that their actions, however small, to cut food waste can together have a huge impact on the the global food crisis. If the USA and Britain cut its food consumption to the level we need, that would create food surpluses that could ease the food shortages elsewhere and perhaps cut back on the levels of deforestation in the developing world.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Culture Secretary Maria Miller comes @Out4Marriage

Well Maria Miller has joined the Our4Marriage campaign producing a short supporting video and defending her record.  Having listened to the video it did sound a little party political to me, but she is clearly doing everything she can to address the barrage of criticism she has received from equalities campaigners.

I hope that this is for real and will watch this space with interest. I still want to see what she is going to do to back the entire LGBT and Trans action plans which seem to have gone a little quiet.

Video: Culture Secretary Maria Miller comes @Out4Marriage and defends record - 'via Blog this'

A Passionate Speech About Feminism

This speech by Isobelle Allende is one of the most outstanding speeches about change and the role of women in that change process I have ever heard,

Filmed at TED in 2007 but is a relevant today as it was then...

          and sadly I suspect I will be saying the same thing in 10 years time

Novelist Isabel Allende writes stories of passion. Her novels and memoirs, including The House of the Spirits and Eva Luna, tell the stories of women and men who live with passionate commitment -- to love, to their world, to an ideal.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What is Equality and Why is it So Important?

Over the past decade the term Equality has come more and more into popular use, particularly with the passing first of the Equality Act 2006 and then the Equality Act 2010 which replaced and harmonised most of the discrimination legislation from the past 40 years.  And that’s one of the fundamental changes – previous legislation included the Sex Discrimination Act and the Disability Discrimination Act.

There has been the shift of emphasis away from the negative act of discrimination to the more positive act of creating equality which has characterised the past decade of legislation.

So what is Equality? 

Equality is about fairness  - it does not mean treating all people equally because actually we don’t all want to be treated the same.  I don’t want equal treatment, I want fair treatment. When I apply for a job I want to know that I was considered on the basis of my skills and ability, and that the decision was not based on arbitrary beliefs or stereotypes.   

In Africa there is a word Ubuntu which translates literally as “I am what I am because of who we all are”. Both Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela are strong proponents of the philosophy which is difficult to translate because we don't have a directly comparable concept.  The nearest is probably the Golden Rule or Ethic of Reciprocity - Do unto others as you would have then doe unto you.  

But Ubuntu is much more because it focuses on the benefit to the tribe not the individual . An African speaker friend Billy Selekane explained it to me as “What is good for the trive is good for the individual, but what is good for the individual is not necessary good for the tribe."  In wealthy countries we are a long way from this philosophy... and a long way from equality. 

Richard Wilkinson, co-author with Kate Pickett of The Spirit Level spoke in July 2011 at the TED conference which you can see below.  This speech has had over 1.4 million views and looks at a disturbing connection between inequality and the health of a nation.  What Richard has found is that the wider the gap between the incomes of the top 20% and the bottom 20% the worse the problems become - mental health, education standards, crime, teenage pregnancy, trust... in virtually every primary measure of the health of a nation, those with the biggest gap between rich an poor, which includes the UK and the USA, have the worst performance... by a huge margin. 

Listen to any of the recent speeches by Danny Dorling and you will hear many of the same findings - and the fundamental truth that inequality is bad for everyone, including ironically the rich people.  What also emerges is that inequality between states or counties reflect the same underlying problems, as does inequality between "tribes" or minority groups or people with protected characteristics. 

My personal passion is with Gender Equality and I will be addressing this in more detail in separate posts as part of a G.R.E.A.T.Vision to inspire 1,000,000 people to speakOUT about Gender Equality and Gender Diversity.  If you have not read it, I do recommend my post a couple of weeks ago - Lies, Damn Lies and the Gender Pay Gap.  

It is hugely difficult in any organisation to build trust and inspire peak performance when there is inherent inequality in the organisation,.  If we feel we are not being treated fairly, especially at times like now when we are being told "we are all in this together", we are unlikely to trust managers. 

How can anyone expect harmony in the workplace when tall men hold a disproportionate number of senior positions; when women represent less than 15% of senior managers; when jobs undertaken primarily by women are paid lower average rates than jobs primarily undertaken by men; when men expressing femininity and women expressing masculinity in their dress or behaviour are ridiculed and bullied.  

Equality is all about Fairness - and because all equality law is ultimately driven by Human Rights, it is about treating everyone with Dignity and Respect. It's not that hard - but it does take commitment from the very top to make it happen.  

Please follow this blog by email – enter your email address over on the right or click the link below and if you have time why not share it to your networks by clicking the buttons below.
Follow this Blog by eMail

Tomorrow I will address the question – “What is Diversity and why is that so important to us all? 

My G.R.E.A.T. Vision is:

I came across a web site yesterday that has inspired me.  The site is and it tells the story of Sharon Love’s success in 2010 in getting over 2 million people to sign up to her campaign to get a million people to support equal marriage.  I have been vaguely aware of this campaign and the many lookalike campaigns since but hadn’t appreciated that the original campaign was actively encouraging other people to start their own synergistic campaigns. 

The web pages on OUTstanding lives are a bit confusing, but I got the main message quickly and it helped me to see my own G.R.E.A.T. vision very quickly despite the slightly chaotic mix of web pages,  Survey’s and Facebook pages and groups. 

I have been inspired to set myself a HUGE goal that will probably change my life forever.

I am now going to be very rash.  Usually when I get an Idea I keep it to myself for a while so avoiding public failure. It also is a good way to avoid commitment and I think that right now what I need is to make a HUGE commitment to a BIG goal and make my GREAT vision public.

My G.R.E.A.T. Vision is:

To Inspire 1,000,000 People to speakOUT for Gender Equality and Gender Diversity.

Now to be honest I am not sure yet how I am going to do this, I just know that I am going to do it and having made that decision, ideas are coming thick and fast and I am going to publish them here – and other sites - and trust that the people I need to help me make this vision a reality will come.

What OUTstanding lives is doing as well as inspiring people like me to create G.R.E.A.T. visions,  is to promote the idea that we can all “make a living making a difference” and this is really important. 

The past two years have been two of the worst years of my life.  I set up a Social Enterprise, GenderShift, with government funding and set out to make it a profitable business delivering training and consultancy services to the Public Sector. Then there was a change of government and the public sector across the UK stopped spending money on training, the Community and Voluntary sector collapsed and the Private Sector carried on ignoring equality and diversity or whinging about the cost.

So I have spent a few months
  1. Questioning my life purpose and rethinking my goals
  2. Rebranding and updating my web and social media presence.
  3. Reconnecting with my network connections
There is still a way to go – but my encounter with OUTstanding Lives has meant that I now feel really connected with a new life purpose that harmonizes my passions and skills.  That’s the great thing about action – all we have to do is start moving in the right direction and the universe starts throwing opportunities our way.

I was inspired to write this blog when listening to some music from a 70’s band called Osibisa. They were a fabulous Africa Rock band but what struck me was that this was not music to listen to, it is music to engage with.  It felt as if I should grab my guitar or bongos or harmonica or even a cow bell and join in.

A group of musicians all doing their own thing would just create noise.  But as soon as those musicians start to listen to each other and work in harmony, they create something magical that has a life of its own and empowers the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts.

1,000,000 people all speaking their own messages compete with each other’s messages and create noise.  But a community of people, passionate about Gender Equality and Gender Diversity speaking in harmony can create a movement that will change the world and make if a fairer and safer place for us all.  

Have I piqued your interest; aroused your curiosity?  I hope so – enough for you to visit  Great - but before you go:

Please follow this blog by email – enter your email address over on the right or click the link below and if you have time why not share it to your networks by clicking the buttons below.  

Follow this Blog by eMail

Tomorrow I will address the question – “What is Equality and why is it so important to us all? 

Sunday, September 09, 2012

A Very Bad Week for Equalities

It has often been said that a week is a long time in Politics – but last week was simply a very bad week for equalities.

Not only has David Cameron removed three women from the cabinet and added just one women, she is Maria Miller, now the new culture secretary and also responsible for Women and Equalities, an appointment that has immediately attracted significant criticism from equality campaigners . Gone is equalities champion LibDem Lynne Featherstone, off to a new role in the Department of International Development, but as far as I can see her role as Equalities Minister is not being replaced, signalling that the equalities agenda is being further marginalised by this government .

Instead the Women and Equalities role which had been part of the overall responsibilities of Home Secretary Theresa May is now part of the overall responsibility of the New Culture Secretary arguably because she is a working mum and will champion the cause for women.

Unfortunately other protected characteristics may not be as lucky.  Maris Miller has a long and questionable record when it comes to voting on LGBT issues. She has voted against gay adoption and fertility treatment for lesbian couples and has managed to be absent from every other vote regarding LGBT issues since she became an MP in 2005.

For trans people this is a sad time.  Lynne Featherstone has long been a champion of Trans rights helping to get the gender recognition proposals in to law and more recently publishing the transgender action plan.  I have to wonder what will now happen to that.  Will the Transgender Action plan simply get left on a shelf never to be revisited?

After the criticism for reducing the presence of women in cabinet by 20% last week, David Cameron has apparently now ordered Maria Miller to draw up plans to appeal to women voters – and with quite a lot of feminist pressure in the news I suspect that the trans issues will move to the back burner.  

At the same time with a huge campaign underway by the Catholic Church in Scotland opposing same sex marriage and a new minister responsible for equalities who has a record of opposing gay rights and seems opposed to same sex marriage, I suspect that much of the work that Lynne Featherstone had done to progress equal marriage will also be undone.

So what action can we take - On the site a petition has already started asking the Prime Minister to remove Maria Miller as Minister for Equality – I have signed it – Please consider doing the same - She is simply the wrong person for the equalities job.

Sign the petition to remove Maria Miller here

Share this Post