International Women's Day 2014: Esther Rantzen – 'Many are still deprived of that crucial gift – education'
Saturday 08 March 2014
Esther Rantzen CBE has made pioneering programmes on subjects including British women’s experience of childbirth, stillbirth, mental health and child abuse. In 1986, she founded ChildLine, a charity that she chaired for 20 years. She is currently creating a new helpline for older people, The Silver Line Helpline.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Appreciating the freedom and opportunities that women in Britain have and challenging the fact that so many women in so many other countries round the world are still deprived of that most crucial gift of all – education. Of course, there are many barriers still to break down in Britain, but we at least recognise that women have the right to ask questions about why we don’t have equal pay and why we’re not represented in Parliament or the boardroom in sufficient numbers. But look at what the Taliban, for example, are doing to women who want to educate girls.
Can a single day really help empower women?
I think it’s always worthwhile to have a moment to focus. Events such as the floods in Britain, fires in Australia and turmoil in Ukraine crowd us day after day, especially with 24-hour news bulletins, so it’s good to have a moment to reflect where women are at today.
Read more: A time to focus and inspire change
Cherie Blair: It's a chance to see how far we still need to go
What do you think about this year’s theme of Inspiring Change?
This morning, I was listening to an Orthodox Jewish woman talking about why she allows women like herself to experience ingrained prejudice. She’s a feminist and she was trying to understand how she can tolerate it. She shouldn’t tolerate it. Inspiring change could not be more important to help women like her to achieve this.
In your career, have you faced difficulties as a woman?
When I started out in TV, it was a famously male preserve and when I said I wanted to be on-screen, I was told it was impossible. That only changed because I had the fortune to end up in the only department of the BBC that was gender blind.
What messages do you want girls and women to take away from this year’s IWD?
Don’t be afraid of failure. Women have always been frightened of taking that extra leap just in case they fail. It’s not a disgrace to fail. Just get up and try again.
Have any women particularly inspired you in the past year?
It’s a terrible cliché, but I think that if ever there was a great role model for older women, it’s the Queen. To me, she seems to do a difficult job better and better as each year passes and I think she sets an excellent example.
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
Scottish independence: Final opinion polls show undecided voters could swing the result either way
Isis release 'Flames of War' video warning Obama of attacks troops could face in Iraq
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Alan Henning: British Muslim leaders unite to call on Isis to release UK hostage
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...
£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...