Women We Watch: Sam Smethers

Women We Watch: Sam Smethers

Charlotte Prichard, 28 September 2018

Cast your mind way back to April 24th and the unveiling of Millicent Fawcett's statue in Parliament Square: the first female statue and the first to be designed by a woman. Did you spot Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, Sam Smethers' sneak peek of our Courage Calls Necklace on Twitter?

 Fast forward to June, where we finally let the cat out the bag... our charitable partnership for 2018 is the Fawcett Society: the UK's leading charity campaigning for gender equality and women's rights. We designed nine pieces of jewellery inspired by suffrage and girl power, laser cut and handmade here in Britain by our very own team of talented female makers. Spotted on activists, poets, artists, and models, these powerful pieces start a conversation wherever they go; so join us as we grab five with Sam to talk Caroline Criado-Perez, social injustice and her favourite piece from our collaboration. Ready? Let's go!

  

  

CAN YOU SUM UP WHAT YOU DO IN FIVE WORDS? 

Lead Fawcett. Fight for equality.

 

HOW DID YOU FIRST BECOME AWARE OF FEMINISM AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU? 

I was brought up by my grandparents so had quite an old-fashioned upbringing in some ways. When I was a child I remember thinking it was unfair that my nan worked so hard for so little money. She was a cleaner.  I also thought it was unfair that she did all the washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning at home too.  But she never questioned it.  When I become a student I started reading feminist authors such as Marilyn French and Shere Hite and this transformed my view of the world and shaped how I raise my own children... I haven’t looked back since!

 

IF YOU COULD SIT DOWN AND ADDRESS EQUALITY WITH ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE? 

Probably Trump.  But I wouldn’t try to persuade him. I’d just like to replace him with someone who actually cares about the women of America and the women of the world.

 

MILLICENT FAWCETT IS THE FIRST STATUE OF A WOMAN TO GRACE PARLIAMENT SQUARE AND THE FIRST TO BE CREATED BY A FEMALE ARTIST. THE PUBLIC RESPONSE HAS BEEN OVERWHELMINGLY POSITIVE, HOW FAR CAN COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS AID THE CAMPAIGN FOR EQUALITY?

I think this is fundamental because we have to change hearts and minds and we will do that one conversation at a time. But it helps that there are many, many more people, women and men, having those conversations and believing in what we believe in. That feels good because we need solidarity. We need a movement for change.

 

HOW CAN WE SUPPORT FAWCETT SOCIETY'S WORK ON A DAY TO DAY BASIS?

You can become a member! You can also support our campaigns, donate or buy from our online shop. Every penny we raise funds our independent evidence-based campaigning work.

 

 

WITH ROLES AT THE EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES COMMISSION, GINGERBREAD, GRANDPARENTS PLUS AND NOW FAWCETT SOCIETY UNDER YOUR BELT, WHICH ISSUES WOULD YOU SEEK TO TACKLE NEXT? 

I don’t have a next move planned yet but it will be in a social policy agenda that I care about.  What matters to me is fighting injustice and creating a fairer, more equal society.

 

WHAT DO YOU PERSONALLY REGARD AS YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT?

At work – it’s probably our Sex Discrimination Law Review – which was a very ambitious project but also feels very significant.  I would also say the statue of Millicent Fawcett but that was a team effort, led by Caroline Criado-Perez, so I can’t claim credit for that one.

 

WHAT’S THE BEST DECISION YOU EVER MADE? 

To come to Fawcett as Chief Executive.

 

WORST DECISION? 

Getting married at 18. Probably not my wisest move (though I have no regrets).

 

 

WE'VE SPOTTED YOU SPORTING OUR TATTY DEVINE X FAWCETT SOCIETY 'COURAGE CALLS' NECKLACE. WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE FROM THE COLLABORATION AND WHY? 

The Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere Necklace is my favourite piece because that statement feels very powerful and I feel stronger when I wear it. I also feel I have got closer to Millicent Fawcett herself by finding out more about her in this centenary year of first votes for women, which is lovely.

 

WHICH WOMEN ARE YOU WATCHING RIGHT NOW? 

My 3 daughters. I can’t wait to see what they do in life.

 

Thanks for joining us, Sam. Discover our Fawcett Society collection here and become a member here!

 

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