Monday 8th March marked this year's International Women's Day, a day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women globally.
To mark the occasion, we caught up with our friend and activist, Scarlett Curtis, on feminism, empowerment and how to bring about change...
We’re sure you get asked this a lot but what does feminism mean to you, how did you first hear about it and when did you decide to actively get involved in raising awareness?
“I always say that at its core feminism is simply a movement to create systematic change to give women equality with men. So many people tell me that they don’t think they “know enough” to truly call themselves a feminist but all you really have to know is that you think men and women should be equal. That’s it! I first got actively involved with the movement when I was working for a charity called Global Citizen in New York. Through my work there I met some amazing grassroots feminist organisers and the community I found with them changed my life!”
We love how relevant and accessible the organisation you co-founded, The Pink Protest is. Tell us about the community you have created and what you hoped to achieve through it.
“Thank you! The goal of The Pink Protest is to support grassroots feminist campaigns online and IRL. Gen-Z are such an incredible generation and we started the group to try and provide amplification to feminist campaigns and let young people know what they could do to help create change. We changed two laws in the UK relating to period poverty and FGM fuelled by the power of the internet, which I’m incredibly proud of. We also run a podcast network which tells the stories of women in their own words and we also do a lot of work behind the scenes to support young activists.”
Empowerment is such a strong statement, what does it stand for in your eyes and what empowers you personally?
“Empowerment is more of a transient state for me than feminism is. There are certainly days when I feel empowered - when I’m working on an amazing project or fighting for something I believe in. However there are also days when I feel incredibly un-empowered and question myself, my work and everything I do. I don’t think feeling un-empowered is a “feminist failure”. The goal of feminism shouldn’t be for women to feel INCREDIBLE and strong all the time because that’s just not reality. Feminism isn’t about being bullet proof it’s about being human and acknowledging all the struggles that come along with that for men and women. We don’t want the struggles to be any much harder for women than they are for men - but there are always going to be struggles!
This year’s International Women’s Day campaign theme was #ChooseToChallenge, trying to get the world to call out any bias in an attempt to be more inclusive. How do you think we can all make small steps to bring about change?
“I think it’s really easy for us all to feel incredibly powerless in the face of the massive issues that our world is facing right now but in reality we all have so much more power than we think. Your personal version of “choosing to challenge” might be sitting down with your parents and explaining their own biases to them or getting a group together in your workplace to try and make it more inclusive. Everyday we see people who are changing the world in HUGE ways which is amazing, but making change in your community, family or even in yourself is just as incredible!”
Has the pandemic and the consequent lockdowns affected the work you do?
“It’s had a huge impact on my work just like it has for everyone. I’m so lucky to have a home and an amazing family but I’ve had to put a lot of my own work on the back burner this year to be there for my family and my younger brothers. I’ve also found my mental health has really been affected by these last few months of lockdown and that’s been really tough! What makes me hopeful is how much amazing action and campaigning is now happening online. It’s been a joy to be a part of supporting some incredible online campaigns and organisations like SHOUT (a 24-7 crisis text line in the UK) who are doing crucial work right now.”
What can we hope to see from you this coming year?
“I have a few fun writing projects in the works which I’m really excited about, including working on a scripted TV show that deals a lot with women and feminism! But mostly, I’m just hoping to make it out of this lockdown without having too many emotional breakdowns and finally spend some time with my friends!”
Scarlett wears: Jessica Lace High Apex Body in a UK10
Find Scarlett here: @scarcurtis