I first met the lovely Suzanne at a dinner club run by the equally lovely Hollie de Cruz and Susan Foynes just over 18 months ago. Suze had written "She's Not Good for a Girl, She's Just Good!" but was yet to publish it. Fast forward 18 months, not only has Suze self published her book but it has won a much coveted Platinum at the Smallish Design Awards! Plus it is Andy Murray's new favourite book to read to his daughter! If that wasn't enough, last week Suze published an activity book version of "She's Not Good for a Girl, She's Just Good!".
Suze is a strong woman in my eyes and so I thought I would ask her to share her thoughts on gender equality in the 21st century.
You wrote an amazing book about gender equality, what inspired you to write it?
I wrote "She's Not Good for a Girl, She's Just Good!" as I wanted to read something more inspiring to my daughter than just stories about passive princesses. Once I became aware of the many outdated messages in kids' books, tv show, adverts etc, I couldn't stop seeing them, and thinking about how much these messages will affect a child's view of themselves, and they fit into the world. Boys as well as girls. I moaned about it for it a bit, I blogged about it for a while, and then I thought maybe I could do something that would help bring about a small change. And so it all began!
Is there a person in your life that inspires you?
My daughter inspires me to be the best I can be. I know she will learn so much from me, just from us spending so much time together during those years when she's such a sponge, and learning about how everything works. Kids copy our behaviour, and that thought keeps me on my toes most days! Also I really admire and am inspired by people who standup and speak out, and aren't afraid to do so when something isn't right. Maybe they are afraid, but they speak out anyway, because they believe in something. I've spent a fair amount of life feeling too afraid to stand up in that way, and I don't want to feel that way anymore, or to pass that fear onto Thea.
It was International Women’s Day a few weeks ago, what does it mean to you?
For me I see International Women's Day is a celebration of everything women have achieved so far in the desire to close the gender gap and have real gender equality. It grew out of a time when women didn't have the right to vote, and the aim was to achieve equal rights. So much has changed since then, but there's still so much more to do. IWD is a global celebration of what's changed, and a reminder of what more we can achieve.
There are many different types of strength, was does the word “strong" mean to you and who do you know that embodies the word?
Strength, to me, means emotional strength; mental strength. The strength to be brave, the strength to be true to what you believe in, the strength to keep trying to me a good mum, when you're shattered, and there's no coffee and your little one is pushing your buttons! The strength to be kind to yourself when you've had those buttons pushed and feel like a bad mum. Yes it would be great to have the upper body strength to swing across the monkey bars in the playground, but I'll keep working on mental agility so I don't pull a muscle!!
In the year that is the centenary of women receiving the right to vote, what do you want to teach Thea about her place in the world?
We talk to Thea a lot about how crazy it was that women never used to be able to vote. We explained it by having a mock vote on what to do as a family for the day, and even though Thea and I both outvoted Daddy, we asked her if she thought it would be fair that only Daddy's vote counts as we're girls, and girls don't have a say? She was outraged! And said, "But that's just crazy mummy!" #thatsmygirl We read a lot about strong women, and talk about how you can be anything or like anything regardless of whether you're a boy or a girl. She'll now randomly just pipe up with things like, I like pink, and daddy likes pink, because boys can like pink and girls can like any colour too, because it doesn't matter does it? I really hope she'll grow up to believe she can be anything she wants to be, and that she's not afraid to be who she wants, or will stand up for others to be whomever they want to be too.
What needs to happen in your opinion for us to achieve gender equality?
I think to achieve greater gender equality it begins in childhood. Children don't see gender, or race, or difference, they just see other kids. They don't even recognise the fact that someone might speak a different language to them: you watch kids in any kids' club or beach on holiday and they play along happily regardless of whether they can fully communicate! So while they're young, when they're receiving those messages from the world (from other people, from TV adverts, books, films, from well meaning relatives!) when they're forming their view on the world, on where and how they fit in, if we teach them they're equals, that it's ok to be themselves, that they can do anything and should support their friends in their interests or being who they wish to be, then hopefully, they'll grow into men and women, for whom the campaign and desire for gender equality, is just something they read about in history books.
We would love to hear about what strength means to you. Please do get in touch if you have a story you would like to share.
You can buy our beautiful, bone china STRONG mugs here. £5 from the sale of each mug is donated to charity - split equally between Mind and the Miscarriage Association.