IWD Collection: My Mother by Mathew Norman
A few weeks prior to writing this extract, I was asked, 'write about a woman in politics that you admire'. Straight away, names started rushing through my head, from the most notable figures like Rosa Parks and Emmeline Pankhurst, who were so brave and just simply amazing for standing up and achieving change. If you have a chance to watch "The Suffragette", I highly recommend it!
But my mind also leapt to other figures that I admire and faced challenges in their white male-orientated professions, such as the first black female astronaut Dr Mae Jamison and the 'Mother' of the Hubble Telescope, Scientist Dr Nancy Roman (if you ever join a virtual teams/zoom meeting with me you will see their Lego figures on my shelf behind me). Of course, two amazing women who advanced our scientific knowledge of the stars and Mae, who made a guest appearance in one of my geeky loves, Star Trek TNG (and by the way, beat William Shatner as the first Star Trek Cast member to be in space).
But if you were to ask who inspired me to venture to work in the realm of politics, who still inspires me to this day? Well, I must be cheesy and say, my mother. More generally, women like my mother who have suffered domestic abuse. Courageous women who stand up and write about their experiences and talk about what happened to them. They share their life story to support people who face domestic abuse every day, women like Rachel Williams.
I attended one of her talks in a previous role. She talked about her fear when her partner came to her workplace with a shotgun. A shotgun! She spoke of the trauma after that incident and how the abuse (18 years) always stays with you no matter what. Her perspective was different; she highlighted to me what it was like for an adult to suffer abuse and how they feel powerless and guilty when they worry if their children do too.
Speaking up about that, now that takes courage, writing a book about it (The Devil at Home) and continuing to challenge the lack of support and the need to do something about these nasty creatures who abuse? Now that inspires me. Rachel and others like her are stepping up to change the system for the betterment of others, sharing their darkest moments to inspire change so that fewer people don't have to experience the same.
This is why I said, my mum. Because for the first time, I realised what my mum did for me, the guilt, shame, and dread that women like my mum carry with them. She lived (and continues to live) with that abuse every day and still supported all her children by herself (I am one of five).
And my mum isn't alone. In one year up to March 2020, 2.3 million adults aged 16 to 74 years experienced domestic abuse in the last year alone. After the trauma, after the abuse, they then have to carry on with their lives, and some of them raise children, teaching them that society is better and can be better than what they witnessed or experienced.
So, women who have suffered domestic abuse are the ones who inspire me and inspire many politicians to do more to support them and prevent others from future abuse.
I can't think of anyone else who inspires me more, and they may not stand for political office; however, they inspire others to, and there is still so much work to do to better women's lives everywhere.
For a bird's eye view.
Am olwg oddi uchod.
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