TV presenter and ActionAid supporter Charlie Webster spoke about women's rights, a subject very close to her heart, at an ActionAid Tea and Inspiration party recently. Afterwards, we took a moment to find out what inspires her and why she thinks fundraising for women and girls around the world is so important.
What made you come and speak at Tea and Inspiration?
If I can try to help at least one person, make a bit of a difference, then I think: that’s my job, that’s what I’m here for.
Why are you so passionate about women’s rights?
Women’s rights have been a prominent theme of my whole life from the very moment I was born. I come from a very working class background and my mum had me as a teenager so straight away I was born facing a social barrier.
I’ve spoken openly about sexual abuse I suffered as a teenager, and my work with ActionAid UK, Women’s Aid and the Ministry of Justice Victims Advisory Panel has meant I’ve met hundreds of people who have also been affected. The statistics are truly shocking, nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales each year and domestic violence kills one woman every twelve minutes globally.
Does being a TV presenter help you to speak out?
Using my job now is really important to make sure that anybody, any young girl or boy, doesn’t go through what I went through. There is a lot of gender inequality in the industry I am in and also in the world that you see on a day-to-day basis. It’s about both genders working together for the better of society.
Who is the most inspiring woman in your life and why?
The most inspiring woman in my life is my mum, because she went through things that you would never even imagine a woman could go through. She made me want to be everything she wasn’t. All the time she’d say, ‘I want you to do everything I couldn’t, to be everything that I’m not.’
My mum got pregnant with me when she was doing her exams, and they didn’t let her sit them, so she had to leave school. When I was growing up she made sure I was educated and she gave me the tools to be able to live the life I do now, which hopefully in turn influences other people.
Why do you support ActionAid?
The stories I have heard today about domestic and sexual abuse, like Tiwonge's (pictured above), who was often beaten by her husband in Malawi, show that what ActionAid does to educate women and men is so important.
ActionAid gives people in poverty and young women who have been through sexual violence the tools to then grow their own businesses or educate other women. Instead of just putting a sticking plaster on things, ActionAid gives a long-term solution.
Photo credits: Arjen van de Merwe/ActionAid