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Now that I am done with the nitpicking, I can proudly say that I am a TEDx Speaker! I had the opportunity to grace the TEDx Wolverhampton stage this past weekend to deliver a talk on my not so favourite topic – V.A.W.G. (Violence Against Women and Girls). It was an amazing experience but the build-up to it… sigh! I never imagined that I’d be so panicked and tense! So much so that I almost had a panic attack in the green room just before, and on the stage! Took a moment to breathe and I forgot my favourite part of the talk. The silver lining is that I made it to the end!

Below are some of the key points:

I introduced the story of Jack and Jill, a play on the popular nursery rhyme, juxtaposing how societal gender norms impacted the trajectory of the lives of both characters. The backdrop for this story was The Haven’s early intervention and prevention programs are MENgage and EmpowHER. These are programs that were created to engage with children and young people about topics relating to healthy relationships and violence against women and girls. The aim is to encourage them to challenge stereotypical gender norms and explore, recognise, and reflect on behaviours and ideas that are accepted as normal, but can create and exacerbate abuse and violence. The goal is to encourage critical thought at a young age to reduce the incidents of abuse and violence in the future.

Ultimately, the “idea worth sharing” is that we need as many mentoring spaces for men as there are for women as part of the strategy to end V.A.W.G because men are not born, they are made. The way we raise and socialise young people, boys as well as girls, is crucial to how they see their place in the world and how they treat others in it. We need a complete culture shift and it starts with the little things.

In bold in the snippet below is the part of my talk that I was applauded for during rehearsals and yet completely forgot when the nerves kicked on stage:

I’d like us to ask ourselves what we are trying to achieve when we let our sons get away with micro aggressive behaviour because “boys will be boys”, yet silence and stifle our daughters and teach them to be submissive in servitude? What are we trying to achieve when protecting our sons’ masculinity overrides and erodes our daughter’s humanity? What are we trying to achieve when we teach girls to be modest and virtuous because maintaining their virginity adds to their value and preserves their dignity, but forget to raise boys who understand that women have autonomy over their bodies. No ifs. No buts. No hands up skirts on the school playground. No grabbing butts or other body parts for that matter because consent is a must? How did a whole generation centre the empowerment of women, without centering men’s understanding of living with empowered women? How do we not realise that every time we say to a boy; “don’t be such a girl”, what is implied is that women are unworthy beings who are beneath men? If you socialise a young boy to believe that being a girl is a negative thing, how do you expect him to see women as equal beings deserving of respect as a man?

– Pamilerin Beckley, An end to violence? Rethinking gender, refocusing power | TEDxWolverhampton

All in all, it was an experience that I would not forget anytime soon and exciting things are already happening as a result of it. It was my first rodeo on such a huge platform and I got to share it with a line-up of impactful thought leaders. It would be so easy to let the imposter syndrome win and to say that public speaking is not my thing and I’d never do it again, but I’d be lying. Lies from the pit of hell, I’ll you that! With a teleprompter, some notes or slides, or lots more practice in front of a trusted mini-audience, I’ll do it all over again!

All thoughts shared are my own and not the views of my employer.

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