Blog: This International Women’s Day #MakeItHappen

16 Mar 2015

Katie writes from Eastwood Park women's prison about what International Women’s Day and the 2015 theme #MakeItHappen means to her. Here's her guest blog for PET:

"International Women’s Day is a day that has been celebrated by women all over the world since the 19th century. March 8th every year is an opportunity for women to be recognised for equality, women’s rights, women’s suffrage, empowering women and their accomplishments.

People talk about everything from equal pay to celebrating women for being sports players in a male dominated world.

However, being a woman in prison opens your eyes to so much more.
Women are amazingly strong.
They come into prison alone and vulnerable, you can see the fear in their eyes as they walk through the door but, within a few days they pick themselves up, dust themselves off and adapt to the situation they’re in.

Women should be celebrated for that.
Is it really that impressive that a woman can play football to the same skill as a man?
Let’s look at the bigger picture; let’s be impressed with women’s resilience.
They have the courage to make it through every day and usually, with a smile on their face.

In a prison, women with all different values, opinions and religions come together and keep each other strong through a traumatic time. They are mothers, wives, daughters and carers, juggling prison and keeping family ties - it is a major struggle, but they just #MakeItHappen.

Women have an amazing ability to keep it together.

Knowing you’re away from your children, knowing you have no control over what’s going on outside, knowing that your life has completely changed but STILL finding the strength to wake up every morning, get yourself cleaned, put your make-up on ready to tackle the day; That’s the impressive thing.

Recently, Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, said ‘There are so many women who ought not to be in prison.’

It’s estimated that more than 17,240 children were separated from their mother’s in 2010 because of imprisonment and 48% of women admitted they had committed an offence to support someone else’s drug habit.

It’s clear that women have a tendency to put other people’s needs before their own.
Very rarely is a woman’s priority herself.
Even with all this thrown at them, they can still carry on.

Women come through the gate and start their journey with nothing, but, for the ones who want to make a difference to their lives, there are so many opportunities available.

I’ve witnessed women who have never worked a day in their lives realise how much they not only need but want a change. They put in a lot of hard work and that can result in being trusted to work out in the community. It would be so easy to sit in your room feeling sorry for yourself but feeling hard-done-by takes a lot more energy than ‘just getting on with it.’

Women can leave prison with a full time job because they’ve had the courage to #MakeItHappen – that’s an accomplishment.

No-one can imagine such achievements to come from such a devastating circumstance, but women have incredible strength. I’m amazed everyday by the encouragement and support that gets shared between these walls and knowing the Ministry of Justice are recognising a women’s need is a perfect incentive to carry on.

Women are completely different to men, and it’s about time they get the recognition they really deserve. Who cares if they don’t change the light bulb? Or change a tyre on the car?
They can keep a family running whilst dealing with unimaginable things; bigger picture.

A wise man once wrote the lyrics ‘This is a man’s world, but it would be nothing without a woman or a girl.’ There’s so much truth in one sentence.

Whatever the circumstance in life, women can #MakeItHappen and for that, I take pride in being a woman. Prisoner or not.