International Women’s Day 2020

My great great great grandmother
Shares her name
With a literary heroine;
Eliza Bennet.
In 1841,
Unable to claim it
In pen and ink,
She marked her marriage certificate
With an ‘X’.

Her daughter,
My great great grandmother,
Before she was twenty
Travelled two hundred miles,
To work
Beneath Burnley’s churning chimneys
And choking cotton clouds.

Her daughter,
My great grandmother,
Built family,
Gave care,
Protected love,
In the angry entrenched shadow
Of a big black dog
Named Shell-Shock.

Her daughter,
My Nana,
Surrendered education to earning.
When war came,
She joined an army
Of postwomen
Whose work changed hearts and minds,
And employment policy.

Her daughter,
My mother,
Taught me
That love can be fierce and strong
As well as soft,
And commitment
Is powerful enough
To change the world.

Her daughter,
I write
Therefore I am.
Literate. Educated. Loved.
Unpicking their stories
And stitching them together
Into a patchwork
Of mighty women.

My daughters,
Mighty girls,
Who dream
Of closing the gender pay gap
In professional football,
And taekwondo-kicking
Their way into Downing Street;
She Who Dares

We stand on the shoulders
Of (extra)ordinary giantesses,
Amazonian ancestors,
Each generation
Sustaining the next
To raise our voices
Equality is coming;
Hear us roar…

#IWD2020 #EachforEqual

Copyright 2020 Julie Wilkinson

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