The idea for the Trailblazing series originated a few years ago when I was writing a piece on women’s education and thought about my mother as a pioneering trailblazer. To blaze a trail takes risks and courage. In doing so they clear the path for others and we stand on the shoulders of their achievements to better see the way ahead.
I have been fortunate to have mentors of different genders, my father in particular but when women recognize, nurture and encourage other women and girls it is almost indescribable. So much bigger than the sum of its parts and richer given the challenges facing women everywhere, everyday.
I’m not necessarily talking here of a sisterhood, sistahood or movement, but rather individuals who happen to be women being thrown together by situation or accident and supporting one another powered by mutual respect. Many women I highlight in the series have a sense of self assured accomplishment and an ability to share with and enthuse about other women. It is like gold dust, because sadly the reverse can be true: women undermining other women. Having worked in a variety of different spheres – the criminal justice system, education, medico-legal, public health and the voluntary sector I have had the opportunity to observe and learn from extraordinary women. My time in India has been punctuated by such meetings.
Recent events: the pandemic, elections, uprisings and protests have thrown into stark relief how far we have yet to go. Inequalities experienced by women in every aspect of their lives is still too prevalent and I did not expect to be writing about inequity that women still face at this point in my life. The trailblazer series is about a celebration of women: their achievements, resilience and wonder.
Often women simply in conversation can and do cover diverse and interrelated topics, explore hidden depths and find common ground. Women problems solve first and foremost by conversing, by this I mean not just talking, but listening. Such an uplifting experience in so many senses.
We hope you enjoy the series and that the issues and thoughts resonate with you in some way, or if not just make you ponder, nod, and hopefully smile.