An unretouched image of Damn Rebel Bitch Nina Mdwaba to accompany her piece ‘My Black is Infinitely Beautiful’ for REEK Perfume's blog platform 'Bitches Unite.'

Eilean nam Ban project

Eilean nam Ban

By Ellen Patterson

We speak to actor and activist Ellen Patterson about her all female project  Eilean Nam Ban. An exhibition sharing stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary women through art, poetry and more…

Tell us a bit about this project and how it came about?

When I started my masters degree I decided to look back over the work I had done for my undergrad and noticed there were a lot more men’s names in the reading lists than women’s. When I actually compared them, I found that only 30% of the reading I was asked to do in four years of university was attributed to a female voice. Only 1% came from a woman of colour. I wish I could say I was surprised. So, when we were given pretty much free rein on our final pieces this year I immediately wanted to create a platform for women’s stories to be heard. I have felt inspired countless times by a piece of art, be it a song, a painting, a poem (the list goes on) so I was drawn to the idea of bringing women’s stories to life in art. The project ‘Eilean nam Ban’ has since grown arms and legs and I am now presenting an exhibition featuring an original song by a Scottish fiddler, a song by an Irish singer, a painting, a collage (made by my Grandmother who, by the way, is most definitely a Bitch), and several poems…so far! This will be shown for free at the C.A.F.E in Brixton on September 28th.

What does the name mean?

Eilean nam Ban is an island just off the coast of Iona in the west of Scotland). Iona was the site St. Colomba’s destination when he left Ireland in 563 and he set about building an abbey there (Iona still has a very beautiful abbey). According to Colomba though, this great task could not succeed whilst there were either cows or women on the island. He insisted ‘where there is a cow there is a woman and where there is a woman there is mischief.’ Thus, all the women and cows were banished from Iona and sent to a neighbouring island which earned it the name ‘Eilean nam Ban’ or ‘Women’s Island.’ In solidarity with those banished women (and cows), I hope that my exhibition can act as its own small women’s island.

Are there any particular people who have inspired you on your journey?

The biggest inspiration for this comes directly from REEK. I have followed REEK closely, working with you at any opportunity I get and your mission to let no women go forgotten has been a huge inspiration. All the work that Sara has done outside of REEK to shine a light on women’s stories has also really spurred me on.

How can people get involved?

Make your voices heard! I am still looking for stories and for artists to collaborate with. The stories can simply be the tale of a woman who has inspired you, be it your best friend, your mum, or that lady in the café at the bottom of your road whose smile always brightens your day. It can be one sentence or one thousand sentences  – if you want her story to be heard, I want to hear it. If you are an artist and want to get involved, I can send you one of these inspirational stories to use to create a work of art in whatever form you choose.

And anyone who can come to the exhibition, it would be great to have you there!

What issues do you see people face in your day to day?

This answer could be pages long; sadly I think we are very skilled at ignoring things that are staring us in the face. I will just focus on one issue for now, one that I see every day in my line of work as an actress; the constant treatment of women as inferior. I see this when a woman is told to lower her register or she won’t sound important, when she is told at 32 she can only play a mother, when she stands up for herself in an audition and is turned away. Time is not just up on the outrageous practice of accepted sexual harassment but on the perverse attitude towards and the shabby treatment of women every single day. She is a person, just as much as he is.

Tell us about a campaign/advert that made you angry.

Anything on my sister’s Instagram feed. The worst was Kim Kardashian selling those weight loss lollipops. For a brief moment I genuinely wanted one. I am a 27 year old woman who is secure in her body (most of the time) and I was lured in. How is a fourteen year old who is being bullied at school supposed to read that and not be convinced they should be shedding pounds one lolly at a time?

What message would you put on our on our sticky bitches? (gender equality stickers, free on our site

LIVE IN PEACH (go cruelty free)

What are your three favourite smells?

Just smells or scents? Okay, I’ll do both! Smells; summer rain, talcum powder, a burning log fire. Scents; Bitches, Witches, The Dark Heart of Old Havana  by 4160 Tuesdays.

Are you more of a witch or a bitch?

Definitely a Bitch. But can I still be in the coven?

Yes. Yes you can.

You can support the ‘Eilean nam Ban’ project on their fundraiser here. All charitable donations in aid of The Fawcett Society. To get involved contact:

We Are All Activists

We Are All Activists
By Kennedy Younger Dold

Writer Kennedy Younger Dold  looks at the phenomenal success of the youth movement in politics today through the lens of history.

All over the land, the kids have finally startin’ to get the upper hand.
They’re out on the streets, they turn on the heat,
And soon they could be completely in command.
(Sweet, 1974)

Museums and galleries are quiet places. The stern, official portraits of historical figures make it all too easy to forget the vitality of the stories on display. But, those tales demand to be told. They are the stories of the young, the restless and the rebellious. History tells us stories of many young people who achieved notoriety.

In 1777, Sybil Luddington rode twice as far as the more famous midnight ride of Paul Revere to warn of attacking British regulars during the American Revolution.  Not only did she ride twice as far, but at 16, she was half his age as well. Joan of Arc was 17 when, leading from the front, she inspired the French army to victory after victory during the Hundred Years War with England. Henry V was 29 at the Battle of Agincourt.  Flora MacDonald was 24 when she helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after the 1745 Jacobite Uprising. Victoria was 18 when she became Queen. Alexander the Great conquered and created an empire at the same age. Mary Shelley, at 20, published Frankenstein.  At 23, Nellie Bly was exposing inhumane conditions in American asylums.  To pile on even more extraordinary achievement, she traveled around the world in 72 days… just to beat the fictional record set in Jules Verne’s classic Around the World in 80 Days.  Flash forward to the 20th century and the rise of the self and culturally aware teenager.  In 1977, Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia (age 19) (although fictional) brought hope to a galaxy far, far away. Young people shaped the post-war years: staging protests, fighting for civil rights, and writing pretty incredible music.

All these people were decades from their first grey hair; yet, they shook the ground beneath them. Today, people are surprised by their ages. People remember Queen Victoria as an aged monarch in black mourning clothes. They often forget the fiery woman, just 18, who fought to govern in her own right.

Today, it is regularly held young people need to reach an arbitrary age to fully understand the world. Older generations dismiss their opinions as naive and unsophisticated. They insist younger generations ‘wait their turn.’ So when is a generation’s opinions worthy of consideration?  In America, you are legally an adult when you turn 18; you can vote, get married, sit in judgment of your fellow citizen on a jury, be charged criminally, enlist and go to war. Oddly, you cannot order a pint until you’re 21. However, attaining legal age doesn’t seem to convince older generations that a level understanding of the world has been achieved or that expressed points of view are of any value. Historically, acceptance seems to come down to an individual’s drive to create change and the allied ability to jam their foot in the door and grab opportunities.

The most common roadblock to seizing a historic opportunity is a sense of helplessness. When faced with injustice, it is exasperating to hear ‘nothing can be done.’  Of course something can be done! It may happen in simple baby steps, but incremental change, no matter how minor is still forward movement.

It does not matter how old you are; what matters is your voice and actions.  Your action maybe the genesis of a movement lost in time. It can also be the last weight needed to tip the scale and open the floodgates.

In the worse sense of tragedy, this February in Parkland, Florida 17 high school students and staff were added to the already too long list of domestic mass-shooting victims in America. However, instead of only offering ‘hopes and prayers,’ students as young as 14 rose above tragedy and created the Never Again Movement.  Emma Gonzalez (age 18) became its face. She helped to organize, plan, and execute nationwide marches and rallies culminating in the massive March for Our Lives in Washington DC and sibling marches across the country on March 24. Even my own small hometown in Kansas assembled in support. Emma and her friends put intensive pressure on the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the politicians who accepted their donations.  Originally, the NRA focused almost solely on hunter and gun safety. In the last decades it has devolved into an extreme right-wing lobby group fighting any restrictions or reservations to unfettered gun rights. Regardless of public opinion or reasonable and rational measures to control gun violence, the NRA has maintained a stranglehold on any gun legislation. For the first time in a generation, the young students of the Never Again Movement have defied the odds and pried open a national dialogue.  In response, many states have begun to pass laws requiring increased background checks and bans on the sale of military assault-style weapons, high volume magazines, and accessories designed to increase rapid-fire capabilities.

The Parkland students turned a terrible act of violence into a tumult for change.  Almost immediately NRA and right-wing critics began the age-old chant: ‘high school students are too young, too naive to understand the interworking of American politics.’  They need to ‘wait their turn.’ The students’ response was quick. They were old enough to understand the dangers of getting shot; they were old enough to demand reforms. Their message was clear, if the adults were not going to do anything to protect their lives, to secure them safe schools and communities – then it was up to the youth to do it.       

Earlier on the other side of the globe, Malala Yousafzai was 15 when she was targeted and shot by the Taliban in 2012.  Since she was 11, Malala had been writing accounts for the BBC’s worldwide audience about life under Taliban occupation.  From tragedy, she turned to activism. At 17, she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on education for women and young girls.

Lauren Duca (age 27), a columnist for Teen Vogue, realized her platform to help young women understand the world around them and seized it.  In a startling op-ed about President Trump’s lies and ability to gaslight the American public, she caused a media fervor. Lauren became a spokesperson for young American women; and was interviewed on some of the largest US news outlets and talk shows.  Famously, on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Lauren affirmed young women in America can, should, and do understand the world around them. Responding to his criticism, she asserted young women could have a world outlook and still enjoy fashion, make-up, and personality quizzes. The duality of young people to both understand complex issues and enjoy life is what makes them incredibility resilient.  It helps them to avoid the dangers of disillusionment. It keeps them driving for change. They see how beautiful and amazing the world can be and are not afraid of living in a diverse world or facing the unknown.

To achieve a progressive worldview, young people must move beyond only thinking on a grand, Romantic historic scale and realize ‘great deeds’ are made up of daily actions and choices. It was only after the fact, after history studied and documented and realized the significance of an action that they were deemed extraordinary.  History’s young people did not necessarily realize the gravitas of their choices. They simply acted in the face of the challenges. The same ability to act in incremental steps is within the capacity of everyone.

The 2016 election became the origin of a generation of young voices, who realize they have a responsibility.  Although crushed, I voted in that election. The worst part was explaining to my, then 17-year-old, sister, why her country didn’t care enough about her to vote for her future.  Why her country sided with a platform with planks to restrict the autonomy of her body, the access to her education, the ability to marry who she loves, and would allow the deportation of her friends.  I reminded her, we still and will always have the chance to do something. We can be sad, we can get mad, but we must stand back up. We must, in the words of a defeated but not silenced Hillary Clinton ‘never stop believing that fighting for what is right is worth it.’

There has been a dramatic rise in women running for office and young voters using their voices. To date, many have won their primary elections and stand ready for the 2018 midterms.  Recently, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (age 28), a Democratic-Socialist, won an upset victory in the Democratic primary for the 14th Congressional District in New York.  Her voter were young, many voting for the first time.  Rashida Tlaib (age 42) won Michigan’s Democratic nomination for the House of Representatives seat vacated by John Conyers. As the Republicans did not present a candidate in their primary, she will run unopposed in November.  Come January, Rashida will become the first Muslim woman in Congress. In my very conservative, home state of Kansas, Sharice Davids (age 38) a young, gay, former MMA fighter, White House Fellow, and daughter of a single mother (who not only raised her daughter but also served in the US Army as a Drill Sergeant!) is standing against the conservative incumbent in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District.  Additionally, if Sharice wins the upcoming November election, she will be the first Native American woman in Congress. Youthful voters must and do use their voices because they know they can make a difference.  By voting, young people shape the America they want to see. They are making America look and sound just as diverse as the young, hopeful faces they see in the mirror.


Everyday, more and more young people realize the power of their voice.  They are not different from famous figures celebrated in the history books.  They can be young people refusing to accept things ‘just the way they are.’ They ask questions, demand answers, and pave the way for a bright new future.  Historically, this is nothing new. It’s the same reaction to the same questions. Some quietly accept while others stand against the status quo. Joan of Arc had it when she was one of the first to scale the walls at the Siege of Orleans.  Henry V had it when he stood in front of his tired, downtrodden, and outnumber band of brothers at Agincourt. Nellie Bly had it when she self-admitted to one of the worst mental asylums in America to expose the reality of the conditions. Emma Gonzales had it when she stood silent for 17 minutes in front of a crowd in Washington DC to honor her friends who lost their lives to senseless violence and political negligence.   Lauren Duca continues to write politically astute articles for Teen Vogue. She proves teenage girls are not only intelligent but have insightful and important things to say. The Parkland students could have faded into yet another American tragedy, but they said no. To an entire nation, they said ‘never again.’

In my new home, in Scotland, the same spark lives. Here, 2018 has been celebrated as the Year of Young People. It has witnessed university students using their platforms to organize marches, meetings, and charity drives. On other fronts, young women refuse to have their careers halted by glass ceilings and young men are making conscious efforts to identify and combat sexism.  These stands have often meant confronting their own friends. Young people volunteer time to work political campaigns, work in shelters, or simply provide an ear to listen to those previously ignored.

The power and potential of being a young person transcends geographic boundaries.  We don’t see walls as barriers. Instead, walls are there to be climbed. Better yet, young people petition and protest, so walls are never built.  Young people go forward with open minds. Just because something works does not mean it cannot be made better. Just because something has been that way for a long time, does not mean that it is not time for change.  Young people are reaching out to each other to work and stand together. The Damn Rebel Bitches of the past did it and this self-proclaimed Damn Rebel Bitch is just getting started.

The young people of the past teach us to not sit silent – especially not today.  As Bishop Desmond Tutu said, ‘if you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’ Sitting silent is only acquiescing to injustice.  It is naïve to think you are too young to make a change in this world. You grossly underestimate yourself if you believe you cannot make a difference. As the students of Parkland have demonstrated, if you do not act then who will?  The heroes of the past were not superhuman, they were ordinary young people who faced challenges, saw their opportunity to make their world better, and grabbed it.

My voice may shake.  It’s terrifying standing up, but if I stay silent, if I sit down – nothing will change.  I’ll grow old wondering if I could have done something more, spoken out louder, or extended a hand just a little further to those in need.  Maybe, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll be remembered in a museum or get a paragraph in a textbook. Regardless, if you stand, if you take action, you will know you confronted injustice. In decades to come you will look in the mirror and confidently know you did everything you could to better the lives of those around you and the world.

There’s plenty happening. What are you waiting for?

Never Again Facebook Page

Lauren Duca’s work for Teen Vogue

You can donate to the ACLU here

Why Being Your Baddest Bitch Can Mean Allowing Yourself To Be

Why Being Your Baddest Bitch Can Mean Allowing Yourself To Be

Activist and REEK model Briana Pegado on coming back from being burnt out and why we all need to sometimes do less to achieve more. 

Without realising it over the last year I’ve been busy –  really busy. This year and a bit (4.5 months to be precise) sent me on a winding sabbatical, a healing journey, an exploration. Though I understand the inherent privilege I have to have even embarked on this journey, it wasn’t easy.It started with the breakdown of my health, the break up of a 4.5 year relationship, experiencing hidden homeless for 9 months, being broke (very, very broke), experiencing underemployment, breaking up with friends, the process of digging my voluntarily-run organisation out of a deficit, and recovering from soul-deep burnout. These circumstances are less important than the context of what I realised – that living and working in a feminist way requires us to embrace feminine energetic principles. Let me explain. Feminine energy in ancient traditions, astrology, spirituality, and some traditional religions possesses the qualities of process, slowness, being-over-doing, birth and rebirth, and allowing, unfolding. We live in a society that is dominated by masculine energy. The patriarchy prizes striving, ambition, hard strength, absolutes, doing-over-being, definition, and singularity. Particularly in a professional context,the ideal path is seen as focused – a constructed need for others to understand their position, status, authority, and power. I have always rebelled against this since I was a child. I had a natural instinct to do everything at once. I would pick things up, start them and leave them. I would experiment. I inherently understood that all of these interests were part of me – one not more important than the other. I could discard them and pick them up. The ability to do this did not lessen my inherent value as a human being. I was not defined by my interests and my interests did not define me. As I grew up I was told this wasn’t acceptable. I had to chose. I could do certain things as hobbies. I could be anything I wanted, but I also had to make a single decision about who I would be. Because of this, as an adult, I have been in conflict. A friend recently introduced me to the concept of a community of selves. The existence of multiple selves that have different desires, needs and character traits – they are multiple people / multiple parts – that can sometimes be in conflict. This dissonance causes inner turmoil. In order to get to the root of this inner conflict we need to understand what is causing it. This is a process of un-layering, unlearning and an exploration that can take a lifetime.The last sixteen months threw me into the depths of this exploration. I realised that I was disconnected from my feminine energy. I had been living in a way that was shaped by society and as a result I was out of balance, functioning too much in the masculine with my life dictated by outcomes, goals, and products. As I spent time working on myself and trying to feel less burned out, I started to do the internal work of healing. Burnout feels like you are living with your hands tied behind your back and a weight sitting on your lap. It is not the same feeling as depression nor anxiety, but, similar to these, you lose interest in things because you do not have enough energy to care. You can’t make the effort. Burnout is telling your body something very fundamental – it is telling you to simply be.In this period of being, I had questions I wanted to explore. I allowed them to fall into the background and to be worked out slowly. I started to heal from square one. Burnout forced me to strip out all the extra things I did not need – toxic relationships and work dynamics. I packed up all my possessions and moved them into storage when I left the flat I lived in with my partner. I left a toxic studio environment where I ran a social enterprise that was draining me because managing it was too big a task. I put the breaks on everything and while I worked out of deficit, things started to become more clear. I took time to read stories. I went to therapy. I worked with a shaman. I booked a trip to Bali. I consistently went to yoga. I spent more time doing my favourite thing – spending time by myself. I created a lot of space by doing this. I realised that I had allowed toxicity to build up until it weighed me down so much I broke.Toxicity comes in many forms. It comes from having no boundaries, from habits that are self-harming, habits we learn through experience and are reinforced by a society that is also toxic. I come from generations of women who have been through great trauma (this is the case for all of us.) The very nature of patriarchial society has a negative impact on us all regardless of our gender. Some of us are more conscious of it than others. My grandmother was an extraordinary woman who married a narcissist and as often happens, gave birth to a girl (my mother) who became a narcissist herself. For me, being raised by a narcissistic mother, comes with a host of complications – the most troubling of which is verbal and emotional abuse. When my parents separated when I was 11 and my father moved back to Angola, I was left unprotected. Adolescence is always difficult, but living with constant criticism, abuse, gas-lighting and manipulation hardwires the brain to accept toxicity. I coped by being an overachiever. I threw myself into art, sport, and every extracurricular activity. I reacted to my mother’s narcissism by developing into a highly sensitive empath. My anxiety in these years was at its height. I used to have panic attacks in the shower every evening before I put on my PJs to start five hours of homework. It was around the time my parents separated that my gut health started to suffer. My parents put this down to lactose intolerance. I did not understand my condition, nor did I have the confidence to advocate for myself. I struggled with poor self-esteem. More research is being conducted into ACEs or adverse childhood experiences, which suggests they are the single underlying cause of most addictions, most diseases including heart disease, many psychological conditions, suicide, and low self-esteem. There is evidence that suggests they are the single largest public health concern in our society.My burnout allowed me to unravel this trauma. I had spent nearly a decade in therapy but my burnout forced me to truly stop and reassess. Here is what I discovered –

  1.     I was doing too much.
  2.     I was doing too much because overdoing it and overachieving is how I coped with abuse.
  3.     Society reinforced my coping mechanism of overachievement because I grew up in a country that valued overdoing it, underpinned by a patriarchial system that devalued feminist, matriarchial and feminine energy.
  4.     I had internalised so much of my trauma that it was embedded into my perception of myself. My value was intrinsically tied to my overachievement. I viewed myself through others’ eyes.

This trauma laid the groundwork for an extremely toxic way of living and was literally making me sick. I was resilient and had lived with mental ill-health for so long that I ignored the warning signs. I could cope with depression and anxiety, if anything I was highly functional with both, but when my immune system started to break down and I hit burnout I finally listened.I learned that the only way to heal was to create better boundaries and a safe space for me to unfold and become my authentic self. In this space, I could revisit a younger version of myself. I could allow for complexity – the multifacetedness of my personality, and the beauty of my be-ing. In fact, the part of me that had been stewing in my unconscious, desperately needed rest and time to evolve in relation to who I am, who I was and who I was becoming. I was deeply served by my burnout.

I learned that things needed time to unfold, to be stagnant, to feel stuck. These principles are the exact opposite of society’s expectations.So the next time you wonder where life is taking you and you feel spent – remember the value of taking time out. Remember to notice how you are living. And remember the privilege of being conscious of this choice – to have the awareness to decide what is important. Your burnout can be the best thing that happens to you.

Briana Pegado is an Edinburgh-based social entrepreneur who specialises in process. She is one third of a creative collective called Povo that thinks and does in Edinburgh. She is the founder and director of the Edinburgh Student Arts Festival (ESAF). She is on the board of Creative Edinburgh and YWCA Scotland – The Young Women’s Movement. She is launching a new wellness company called Unfolding Abundance Co. at the start of 2019. Most importantly, she is a human being trying to work things out as much as the rest of us and tries to cultivate gratitude every day. You can follow her here

Welcome To The Party

Welcome To The Party
Women's Equality Party

Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party shares her ideas in the run up to the party conference… 

If I could create a fragrance for women I would capture the essence of freedom.

Imagine being able to bottle the good things from a little girl’s life. Running flat out or flying down slides or up in the air on the swings; imagining superheroes; learning in classrooms full of possibility and inspiration.

Imagine being able to distil the freedom of a young woman’s night out in any city; revelling in food and drink, celebrating among old friends and enjoying the pleasure of meeting new ones; laughing and joking, then walking home under the stars in appreciation of the world and her place in it.

Imagine stoppering the freedom of motherhood – the fragrance of a small person post-bath further scented with the joy of shared care responsibilities and the delight of a unfettered work life – and consider also distilling the freedom to not be a mother and feel valued and loved as an individual.

If only the lives of girls and women could be transformed by a spray of magic. If only our girls and young women and mothers and women of all backgrounds and experiences could live so freely – as people rather than gender stereotypes, as creators rather than primary carers; valued by a society in which everyone is equal – innovators, dreamers and leaders without limits.

The next best thing to magic? Welcome to the Women’s Equality Party – a movement of active, imaginative women being the change they want to see.

We decided that rather than wait for mainstream political parties to understand that women have waited too long for freedom, we would build our own road to revolution, write our own policies, stand our own candidates and contest elections.

We are the political party we waited so long for the others to be. Because there is no more time to wait. Male MPs in the House of Commons outnumber women MPs by two to one. Only seven of the UK’s top one hundred companies are headed by women. Childcare in the UK is the most expensive in the world and the median pay gap remains stubbornly around 19 percent. Two women a week are killed by a partner or former partner. Sexual harassment and violence is at epidemic levels. Young girls are experiencing mental ill health in numbers hitherto unrecorded.

And all of this in 2018, a year when so much time has been devoted to celebrating the suffragettes whose dauntless activism won women the right to vote. What use is a vote if we cannot use it to vote for a party that sees, hears and represents us? If black and minority ethnic women, disabled women, working class women, lesbian and bisexual women are still seen as ‘other’?

We are climbing on the shoulders of the suffragettes and the vital work they did in fighting for women’s rights to stake a claim to politics for all women. And we are doing that work with a laser-like focus on the structural inequalities that act as barriers to all women. We have seven core objectives. Our focus is on achieving an equal education system, equally shared parenting and care-giving; equal pay and opportunity; equal representation at work and in politics; ending violence against women and girls; achieving equality in the media; and equality in health.

As the Leader of the Women’s Equality Party the question I am asked most is: What is the one thing you want? It’s one that always makes me laugh because you’d think was clear from my job title. But in fact it masks another question which is: What is the silver bullet to solve all of this?

My answer is always the same. There is no silver bullet. This requires hard, thoughtful, collaborative, dedicated work. If you insist on asking me what one thing I want I will tell you: to stop being told we can only have one thing. I want everything, all of it. For all of us. I want every girl to grow up without the limits of patriarchy defining her choices. And while I’m there, I want every boy to grow up without those limitations too.

In a couple of weeks’ time WE will be holding our second Party conference, from September 7-9 in Kettering. In a room of a thousand feminists, dreams will become concrete and political plans will be hatched to build the next phase of women’s equality.

Our conference theme is Making Change Happen. Our focus in on what is practical and real. We offer training and support for new activists and speakers – the first night is always an open mic night to give every single delegate the opportunity to find their voice – as well as workshops, panels and inspiring speakers on everything from Brexit to Big Data.

Tickets are selling fast. But I’d love you to come along,  be that as a member, supporter, observer, activist or feminist of any age, race or background. You can come with hope and know that we are a place for women to flourish. WE are YOU. And YOU have a place with us whether you  joined from the start, joined along the way or want to join right now.



Tickets for the conference:

Sylvia Kouveli Nipples Out

Sylvia Kouveli

Nipples Out


Greek activist Sylvia Kouveli founded #bOObs and she wants you to get involved… 

Tell us a bit about this project and how it came about?

#bOObs is an attempt to normalize real-life images of breasts and to acquaint women with the risks, detection and prevention of breast cancer. It’s made up of un-retouched photos of women’s boobs, regardless of their medical history, who have voluntarily posed in order to speak up about breast health. Women like you, me, your neighbour, anyone! The final result is a diptych of each woman: a pair of photos in which the first one is completely neutral and the second one is an expressive one (each woman is free to do whatever she wants with her boobs).

The idea of photographing just boobs (in isolation) originally occurred to me as a rebellious reaction to how uncommon it was to go topless on beaches in Greece. Even though I am Greek, after living in Spain for many years, I had got used to how natural it is for a woman to not wear her bikini top on a beach. So coming back to Greece, I was shocked by the fake puritanism I encountered. When I started researching topless trends through the decades, I realized how little education there is in Greece about self exams and how breast cancer can affect us. So that’s how #bOObs took a turn towards breast cancer awareness.

During a photo session, at least 3-4 women gather at my studio, we have coffee or tea and we watch a presentation I have prepared about boobs and breast cancer. This usually sparks conversation and whoever wishes to do so shares something about their experience with their boobs. Then, each woman is photographed in privacy.

The photos that make up the #bOObs collection are posted on Instagram and will be part of a series of exhibitions, starting this October.

There is no profit generated from this. The whole point is for women to help women and to educate as many people as possible.

You can read some more about it here: Also available in Greek and Spanish. 🙂

What would you like #bOObs to achieve?

As a photographer, I want #bOObs to have a visually compelling effect, to engage as many people as possible. The ultimate goal is to raise awareness about breast cancer.

How can people get involved?

  1. If you’re in Greece or in Spain, you can reach out to me to find out when and where the next photo session will take place.
  2. During the month of August I will be doing a “#bOObs Show & Tell” on instagram, where women who are too far away to attend the photo sessions can submit their own photo of their boobs, foobs or noobs along with a short blurb.
  3. From October 23-29 there will be an exhibition of #bOObs at the iFocus Gallery in Athens. You’re welcome to come! Also, I’m currently looking for sponsors (media, in-kind or financial) to support me in getting the message out. This will be the first exhibition of many, so the benefits of getting involved are many-fold.

Please get in touch to find out more:

Email →
Instagram → @boobs4prevention
Facebook → @SylviaKouveliPhotography

Are there any particular people who have inspired you on your journey?

Definitely! I meet inspiring, strong and positive women all the time! Women who have battled with cancer, who have had kids or lost kids, who have had operations, or gone through treatment and have come back stronger and with a wider smile. It’s overwhelming, yet encouraging to hear them tell their story, share their pain,and at the same time, watch them thriving.

What issues do you see people face in your day to day life that the world can find easy to ignore?

Communication. Even when people speak the same language, one may not express themselves fully, for fear that they will be judged, labelled or excluded. We lack compassion and we focus too much on how to live comfortably, even at the expense of our fellow beings.

Tell us about a campaign/advert that made you angry.

Lately, I’ve been angered by the double standard in nipple censorship. I try to focus on positive messages being put out there but a recent example of an advert that made me angry  shows a local watermelon farmer who drives around his pick-up truck full of watermelons, selling them wherever he can. On top of his truck he has placed a large image of a naked woman from belly-button to knee, her private parts covered by a slice of watermelon with words that loosely translate to “Sweet Steve, the Watermelon Man”. Ugh! Feel free to vomit now, ladies!

What message would you put on our on our sticky bitches? (gender equality stickers, free on our site worldwide)

NIPPLES OUT. Nipple censorship is sexism 

(note: we just might…)

What are your three favourite smells?

Orange blossom
Black pepper

Are you more of a witch or a bitch?

Definitely a bitch! 😜

Clara Novelli Interview, Don't Edit Me

Clara Novelli Interview

Don't Edit Me

Italian Photographer Clara Novelli shares her ‘don’t edit me’ ethos and some of her beautiful images with us bitches…

Tell us about some women who have inspired you and what you do?

I have always loved art. The first woman who introduced me to art and inspired me was my mom. She has a degree in literature, works as a teacher, loves books and any kind of art. When I was twelve she brought  me to a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition in Florence. I fell in love. The second was my history of art teacher – that woman was like a goddess. A well of knowledge. She opened doors to the amazing world of art and its symbolism. Now I’m inspired by every woman I see, pretty much… friends, people on instagram, my two sisters, and obviously music and art as well.

If you could pick one thing to improve about the photography and fashion industry what would it be?

I would love to see a big change in woman’s idea of beauty. I hate that we need to be perfect, or photoshopped, or just you know, not us, covering and changing ourselves with make-up, crazy hours at the gym etc.  I hate it. My close friend is fighting an eating disorder, and I believe if there is a change in society there’ll be fewer girls suffering. We are all beautiful. We do not need all of this pressure to look or feel different from how we truly are.

What message would you like to share with other women?

More or less what I said in the previous answer. Love yourself. Treat yourself. Don’t let ANYONE, no girl, boy, man or woman tell what you should be or what you should do. Take off your make up, take off your bra. Feel free and do what you want.  Remember, ‘none but ourselves can free our mind’.

If you could change society what would be the first thing you do?

– I would love to see Donald Trump go to hell. Can I say that?
– I would love to see more peace everywhere.
– And well maybe I’d change  something in my country. Politicians are doing what they want to too much – it’s unaccountable.
– I’m not against men (I have nothing to say against respectful men) but more women in politics could really change things.

Tell us about a beauty campaign that made you feel angry or ugly?

I feel this way about every  big lingerie or bikini brand. They make girls feel bad, every woman I think sees an Intimissimi pic for example and feels uncomfortable with her body.  We’ll never be perfect like Irina. Please. Show some normal people. Thanks.

Tell us something about yourself that you once perceived as ugly/unattractive that you now love about yourself?

When I was little people laughed at me for having no boobs.  Now I love my small boobs. go fuck yourself. I don’t need to buy bras. Well, just cute ones cause I like them  maybe. Also my eyebrows – I’ve always had big ones. I love them (and maybe the girls who used to laugh at me are jealous now). 

What advice would you share with yourself 5 years ago?

Don’t care what people say.

I was still at high school five years ago, but actually I had already started  not caring about other people’s opinions. When I was eighteen I shaved my head. I loved  it but lots of people said ‘you look toxic’ or ‘you are disgusting, too skinny etc’ I’d tell myself – WHO CARES? Now I don’t.

What are your three favourite smells?

I love rose, jasmine, and the smell of weed. Oh and pizza smell. The smell of pizza is actually my favourite.

What does the word bitch mean to you?

I believe the world bitch has changed its meaning in the last few years. It depends who uses it, but for me a bitch is a strong woman.  Someone who can do what she wants. Get naked, have sex, get drunk, be bossy how and when she likes. I don’t care about people calling me a bitch.

Are you more of a bitch or a witch?

I think I’m half and half.

#donteditme #nophotoshop

See more of her work here:

Moody Girl


We interview Emily Fazah founder of Moody Girl an initiative to start a conversation about PMS… 

Tell us about the inspiration behind Moody Girl and how it got started?

Moody Girl was created after years of suffering with PMS. From the age of 15 onwards I noticed a huge difference in the way I suffered with my periods compared to other girls at school. When trying to open up about both the psychological and physical effects it had on me I realised that this wasn’t something people spoke about honestly and from then on I learnt to suffer in silence and to just get on with it. There came a point when I just couldn’t ‘get on with it’ any longer and I decided to speak with my local GP. As a young girl seeking answers I thought surely my doctor would have some answers! Unfortunately this was not the case and GP after GP met my woes with the same blank expression. All that was offered was the contraceptive pill (which sent my moods completely wild) or anti-depressants, which I refused to take, as I knew deep down what I had wasn’t depression. Finally after extensive research I was referred to the Chelsea and Westminster PMS clinic where I spoke to the first doctor who seemed to understand and since then things have got much better. For so many years I felt so alone as if no one else was going through the same as I was. But then I thought ‘what if other women have been suffering in silence too?’ It was then that I decided to start Moody Girl. Moody Girl aims to open a line of communication between women suffering with destabilising hormonal conditions. You can see moody girl here.

How can we get involved?

The whole purpose of Moody Girl is to build a community of women who have suffered with any type of period drama. Moody Girl has an online forum for women to chat through everything menstrual related. The best way to be involved is to sign up to the Forum and post any questions you may have or answer existing questions asked by other users. All we ask is that users are non-judgmental and inclusive when listening to any girl or woman who reaches out.

What has been the response been like for MG?

So far, so good! At first it was a daunting process sharing my PMS struggles after keeping them locked up for so many years but after the initial website launch I have learnt to be PMS and proud. The Moody Girl Stories that have been submitted have made the whole project worthwhile. To be able to hear from other women who have been suffering too is sad but also a relief, seeing as I felt so alone for so long. One of the stories we received came in all the way from Virginia, USA, and completely blew my mind. You can read all of our Moody Girl stories here

What would you like to see MG achieve over the next year?

At the moment it is just me working on Moody Girl with some help from my amazingly talented girlfriends and supportive boyfriend. In the next year I would love to have a more permanent Moody Girl team and a space to work from. My first fundraising event is coming up in August and this is to raise money for further research into PMS & PMDD and the team at Chelsea and Westminster PMS Clinic. The goal is to continue with fundraising events & too start retreats for PMS & PMDD sufferers. The Moody Girl retreats will offer educational and nutritional talks, meditation, yoga, music therapy and a general opportunity for women to meet and talk through their experiences of coping with PMS & PMDD.

What women do you most identify with from history to the present day?

All of the women who have had to suffer in silence with a destabilising condition over the years. My auntie was a beautiful, intelligent women whose whole being changed after she had children. She was put on antidepressants which then spiralled into alcohol addiction and sadly she passed away. My mum and I feel she had undiagnosed post-natal depression. I identify with all women who have been fighting for answers or have been misdiagnosed throughout their lives.

My Mum. She has been the only woman in my life that has believed in my symptoms fully since they started at age 15. She has suffered with PMS herself and has come out the other side fighting. She pushes me to not let it dictate my life. Companies such as Bloody Good Period, GurlsTalk, and Freda are doing amazing things too!

Tell us about a beauty campaign that made you angry? 

To be honest most campaigns relating to periods right now make me happy. I’m overwhelmed to see finally people are opening up and being proud! What does make me angry is GPs handing out antidepressants to women suffering with hormonal problems before steering them in the direction of specialists to get a definitive diagnosis.

What do you think makes a DAMN REBEL BITCH?

In my opinion a Damn Rebel Bitch is someone who fights for answers and pushes through the PMS fog better and badder than ever.

What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?

You aren’t alone. You aren’t depressed. Keep pushing for answers, you will find them!

What do you think are the three biggest lies out there about periods and period pain?

1) Women use PMS as an excuse for everything. 

2) Menstrual pain is a myth. 

3) It’s wrong to talk to boys about periods.

Get involved with MOODY GIRL! Join the conversation or get involved with their fundraiser, Sat, 18/08/18 more details here

Keep Your Laws Off My Body


We interview Dutch law student about why she wants the world to ‘keep your laws off my body’…

What do you do?

I’m studying a masters in Dutch health law and am currently writing my thesis about equal treatment in healthcare. I also work 2 jobs one the side – one in customer service and one as a doorhost (read: doorbitch) at a weekly electronic music festival in Amsterdam. I’m also on the board of a European study association based in Amsterdam, which has the slogan ‘a world in which there is respect for human dignity and cultural diversity’. Let’s say I’m living my student life in Amsterdam to the fullest and enjoying it very much.

Which women do you most identify with from history to the present day?

In Holland, the ‘Dolle Mina’ (crazy Mina) movement played a big part in the feminist movement of the 1970s. I have big respect for those women (read: heroines), who preached their own opinion, fought for their rights and didn’t care about what the outside world thought. As a humble dutchie, I wouldn’t say I identify with them, since I don’t know if I would be brave enough to have joined them, but if I would say nowadays, I identify with their actions and would do whatever I could to help.

Tell us about some women that inspire you

Probably very cliché, but first: My mum of course, since she is a hard working, kind mum whom, as well as having 3 kids, started her own company and helped my dad with his company as well. She always has a positive approach, enjoys every day as it comes and finds solutions for every problem. I still learn from her every day!

My older sister has struggled to find her passion for a while and now puts her creative energy into photography and I am so proud of her! She inspires me in the way she lives in ‘the now’ from day to day and doesn’t worry about the future. I sometimes get caught up in negative thinking about past or future but now is all we have.

What changes would you like to see in your community?

Hey. Not only in my community, but nationwide and maybe worldwide. The way we use language. I saw a recent discussion online and I have to admit that I never thought about it before, but I think language is a good place to start. It is common in Dutch to call an adult lady a girl (meisje in dutch, -je is a word to make things smaller), but not very common to call an adult guy a boy. (jongetje in dutch) In Dutch you really notice the difference. We choose words that make women seem like a small, sweet and cuddly things, while we don’t use those words for men. This inequality should be simple to fix. But whenever I tell people, they think it’s not that big a deal. So I guess there is still a long way to go.

Another personal experience – I was born as Yvette, but my parents always used the nickname Ted. Ted is a boy’s name but I prefer it over Yvette. So I decided to use Ted in my personal life and Yvette for business. When I’m at a party I introduce myself as Ted and people tend to get a bit confused. In the end names are not who we are, it’s just something our parents gave us and if I like my boy’s name I use it! The change I would like to see is people stop using labels – my name is a boy’s name, so what?

Overall Dutch women are very down to earth, practical and independent. I think we should honour that more instead of seeing it as a bad thing. I notice sometimes the word feminist gets used as a bad word, like ‘one of those feminists’. In my experience, these things are most said by men from countries with a macho culture. What should change is that everyone should be feminist and men shouldn’t feel threatened by strong and powerful women.

Next to this I would like to see change in the public perception of body hair. Shaved legs and armpits are still the standard and I don’t see why. A man is accepted for having body hair yet as a woman there is this idea that you should give men pleasure by shaving everything off?! HELL NO. I’ll decide for myself!

Tell us about who has inspired your personal life and style?

When Alicia Keys stopped wearing make-up I didn’t for 2 years either. In this period my style became very basic. Now I enjoy make up and dressing up again, so I do it if I want to. But I learned in this period to be happy with less clothes hanging in the closet. A kind of minimalistic approach, which works well for me. The bottom line is I do whatever feels good and when I dress up I do it for myself!

What would you put on one of our sticky bitches*?

Women just want to have FUNdamental rights!

Men of quality support equality.

Stop forced (child) marriage!

*Sticky bitches = our free gender equality cause stickers.

What are your three favourite smells and why?

Since I grew up on a farm the smell of fresh cut grass and hay will always be a special memory. Because I live in Amsterdam now, I don’t get to smell this often, but when it happens I feel like a kid back on the farm again.

The smell of the sky after rain on a hot day (yeah we have some of those), like nature is saying thank you for the refreshing shower.

The signature perfumes of friends, families and loved ones! (no explanation needed I guess)

What gender equality causes mean the most to you all personally?

What really really shocked me recently is the fact that the forced marriages of under-age girls is still widespread. From 2000 till 2010 there were 250,000 under-aged girls forced to marry a much older guy. Not only in religious communities, but also outside those. It is still happening every day. I can only imagine what hell these girls must be going through. A story I read about Sherry Johnson, who was 11 when she had to marry her rapist. Instead of sending her rapist to jail, her parents trapped her in this marriage.

It is crazy to realise that Afghanistan has stricter laws on under-age marriage than the US. In half of American states there is no minimum age for getting married. Legally speaking even toddlers could get married if their parents agree. In my opinion it is about time to get some legislation on this topic!

Read more here. 

Are you a bitch, a witch or a bit of both?

I would say both.

I am very interested in the spiritual side of life and think there is more than the dimension we live in. I feel this is not my first journey on earth and probably not my last.

On the other hand I always say how I feel, am very direct and can be slightly bitchy in a positive way.  

So I would like to use the term ‘bewitched bitch’.

Thank you for letting me part of this movement. I feel it can be hard to unite even though we are all connected through the internet. Initiatives like this make me feel #uniTED again!

GIRL Magazine Interview

GIRL Magazine Interview

We spoke with Fidele from GIRL Magazine about her take on the female form, the importance of self love and her favourite smells…

Describe GIRL Magazine…

Strong yet at the same time sensitive , that’s how I see myself. I can cry in a minute but after 5 years of cancer , I’m stronger than I thought. Each year that passes , each pain makes me more empowered , attached to my dreams, to myself , to life and the dreams that give me hope.

Empowering : I wanted to create a platform to empower others the way I empowered myself through the hardest times of my life. I was able to find hope within the importance of God , my family and dreams.

Caring and loving: there isn’t much love in this world and a light can go a long way.

What is the inspiration behind the publication?

Though it is odd to describe GIRL Magazine as a person, I am one with the magazine. My heart is intertwined with it. I was going through my relapse from cancer, when what started as a photography project turned to an online magazine , a platform to spread self love for every type of girl . I have learned through my experience that nothing strengthens the mind and willpower like forgiving yourself. 

Nothing builds your immune system from the hate others inflict on you, the way looking at your naked reflection does. The hate slowly turns to forgiveness, acceptance, admiration.

What message do you hope people take when looking through your images?

As a rule, I never post anything if I don’t feel an attachment to the photo or the words in the description. If there’s a message I want to share, either of my own or lyrics from a song that transmits a message, it’s important to connect to people through your raw emotions rather than just post for the sake of appearing on their instagram feed and that is how I was able to build something different online as there are many online magazines and zines that spread feminism but I wanted GIRL Magazine to focus on the innocent girl within – the one who jumps up and down at the thought of ice cream, who dances in her underwear, who doesn’t get sad for too long. In a way I wanted to immortalise the idea of our inner selves staying young and the words “PURE”  and “different” are often the words I receive from strangers to describe the magazine.

If you could pick one thing to improve about your industry what would it be?

They talk about self love but yet not how to attain it in the simplest of ways: 

Don’t give up on your dreams. 

Look at your naked reflection.

Take 30 minutes to be mad , it’s enough time to think things through yet  not long enough to waste a whole day ( it’s a rule of mine and it works , it gives my mind 30 minutes to find inspiration and a solution rather than focus on the problem).

It’s a whole new mechanism.

Turn the music up, take a shower, dance naked or in your underwear (it is one of the most cleansing forms of self love rituals you can perform). 

What advice would you give yourself 5 years ago?

The same thing a friend told me “YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK” and that was even before I knew I had cancer. They were the perfect words for the unknown that was coming my way.

If you could implement a big change is society what would it be and why?

Dismembering  jealousy from people’s minds and cores. It is the cause of self hate, wars, hunger and every other rat race.

What women have inspired your career?

I spent my young years coming back from school, doing my homework and watching Oprah with my grandmother at 8pm… you can almost say , these two women raised me along with my mother. There are countless reasons, stories and people that have moved me to tears and helped open my eyes to a world I didn’t know, it made me eager to grow into someone who makes a difference rather than just building a successful career.

Are you a witch or a bitch?

I’m strong in my opinions and goals but I take other people’s advice better now. I don’t get too sensitive about it. I guess it makes me a bit of a white witch and a little bit of a bitch because I’ve learned when people are only using me and I don’t allow their negative energy to affect me.

What does the word bitch mean to you?

Bitch: sleeping around with men you don’t know, wearing short skirts but in truth that’s not who or what a bitch is.

What are your favourite smells?

REEK Perfume! Other smells would be : a new book , coffee , chocolate , the smell of food my grandmother makes, the smell of my mother’s baking, the journey of cooking for others, I love food memories, my father. This song comes to mind…

You can follow Fidele and GIRL Magazine here.

LGBTQ+ Centre London Needs You Bitch


The LGBTQ+ community in London is working together to create an LGBTQ+ community centre and they need your help. 

The word ‘community’ is hard to define. For some, it’s a common geography, a shared history or passion that brings a group of people together. For LGBTQ+ folks, it’s who we are. For us, community, can be a lifeline.

When we heard about this project we wanted to put all the bitches on red alert!

We know you will want to support this initiative as much as we do. The much-needed centre will be a space away from nightlife for LGBTQ+ of all ages and backgrounds to feel safe and call home. It will be completely accessible and multi-purpose, run by and for LGBTQ+ people as a not-for-profit. It will be open from morning until night for use by individuals and campaigning groups.

The Centre will serve as a cafe, a meeting point, a workspace and a social centre, with an information hub, research facilities and a signposting service for those seeking support to discover the brilliant charities and organisations that specialise in LGBTQ+ specific service provision.  

In just six months the Centre project has already engaged with hundreds of people through meetings, events and online, and they have garnered the support of Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, the Mayor of Hackney, MPs in the local area, business owners, community groups, charities, health practitioners and the press.

The team of volunteers needs to raise £50,000 by June 13 – if they don’t make the target, they’ll lose the donations that have already been pledged. Please dig deep and give what you can.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can reach the team at