Monday, 14 March 2011


Lamb stew and mushroom risotto were on the menu at Clarence House when I attended a luncheon hosted by The Duchess of Cornwall in support of the Women of the World (WOW) Festival last Wednesday. This fantastic festival was organised by Jude Kelly and held for the first time in the South Bank Centre from Thursday afternoon to late on Sunday evening. The achievements and enterprises, art and entertainment of women were celebrated across three and a half days, and I was honoured to speak about the WI’s campaigning work, and shared the platform with Bianca Jagger and Finn McKay, with Baroness Helena Kennedy chairing. It was an excellent event with a good, large audience. Although all three of us campaign from difference perspectives, the aim of any campaign is to realise a goal, which all of us showed could be done. It takes tenacity, and determination; sometimes the iron fist outside the velvet glove might work, but sometimes a softer approach is necessary and there is nothing wrong with the iron fist inside that velvet glove.

I also enjoyed delicious lunches at two federation annual council meetings last week; one in Suffolk East and one in Leicestershire & Rutland. I find such meetings exhilarating because of all the members I get to meet and hearing what excellent things are happening in a federation, and there always seems to be laughter – a real boost. My thanks go to both federations for two great meetings.

Another lunch came my way earlier last week when I addressed the Council Meeting of Soroptomits International in the Midlands East Region discussing 'Women As Leaders in Civil Society' alongside Marianne Haslegrave, National President of British Federation of Women's Graduates, and Baroness Sandip Verma. We all discussed the Millennium Development Goals and the new UN Women's group, as well as girls’ schooling and addressing maternal mortality. All of these goals pertain to women in such a vivid way; it is essential that we all take action to raise awareness wherever we can.