I’ve always been interested in politics, particularly women’s rights. It’s something I studied at university, and even when I’m lost in a land of unicorns, troll and mermaids, I still like to know what’s going on in the world. But, right now, I’m not convinced anyone knows.
There is a general air of bafflement and confusion about what happened during the American Presidential campaign and why people voted the way they did. How are we supposed to react to a US President Elect who openly and apologetically shares sexist and racist views? And how might his future policies affect the most vulnerable members of society, both in the US and across the world?
Despite people trying to argue the opposite, we live in a sexist and racist world. Previously, I’d always reassured myself progress was happening, things were steadily getting better, and laws were being passed that criminalised prejudice and promoted equality. As a parent, I felt confident the world my children inherited would be a more tolerant, less divisive place. But that confidence has been shaken.
So what to do?
One positive result of recent events is the interesting groups that have started popping up, both in the real world and online. People of all genders, religions, ages and colours are finding positive ways to stand together against bigotry and hate. One example is the ‘Nasty Women’ Facebook group, set up by the wonderful author, Keris Stainton, (who named the group after Donald Trump’s description of Hilary Clinton as a ‘nasty woman’ in the final presidential debate, moving the debate away from policy discussion to personal attack.)
The aim of Keris’s group is to give like-minded women ‘a (safe) space for support and encouragement’ and a place to ‘brainstorm and make plans for action . . . to DO stuff, not just talk about it.’ And while the group hasn’t been in existence long, I’ve already found it a great source of ideas.
One of my favourite suggestions came from Carmen Haselup, based on her belief – which I share – that BOOKS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD. Carmen is going to be donating an empowering book to her local school every month to encourage tolerance and support.
Her first recommendation was Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury): ‘a hugely empowering, fun and fact-filled picture book about women who changed the world across very different fields, including Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawa, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks, and Anne Frank’
I love the idea, and after reading Carmen’s blog, here, I decided to donate a book with a positive message about women, to the library of every school I go to for an author visit. By piggy-backing on Carmen’s idea I can do something simple yet effective to remind students that girls can do anything and be anything.
Carmen explains that her idea doesn’t have to cost money. You can always borrow the books from the library and give time instead of cash – reading to people who’ll appreciate it in hospitals, retirement homes, schools, anywhere you like.
Because it’s often the smallest gestures that turn things around and help create change. I think it would be wonderful if Carmen’s idea took off and people started sharing the stories that have made them see the world differently with people who are ready to hear them.
About the blogger:
Rachel Hamilton is a graduate of both Oxford University and Cambridge University and has put her education to good use by working in an ad agency, a secondary school, a building site and a men’s prison. Her interests are books, films, stand-up comedy and cake, and she loves to make people laugh, especially when it’s intentional rather than accidental.
Her books include the Unicorn in New York series (OUP), The Case of the Exploding Brains, and The Case of the Exploding Loo (Simon & Schuster), which was nominated for the Redbridge Children’s Award, Leeds Book Award, Ossett Riveting Reads Award and won the Worcestershire Awesomest Book Award.
She recently won the Emirates Woman of the Year Award 2015 in the Artist Category