Martin, who successfully campaigned for a change in the law around upskirting, was named Equality Champion of the Year at Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards 2019.
Many people recognise that the world is unjust. But far fewer individuals actually decide to get up and do something about it. Which is one of the reasons that Gina Martin – the activist who spearheaded the campaign to criminalise upskirting in England and Wales – is so inspirational.
Martin began her crusade against upskirting – the act of taking a photograph underneath another person’s clothing without their knowledge or consent – in 2017, after she endured a traumatic experience at a music festival. A group of men began bothering her, and when she tried to brush them off, one stuck his hand between her legs and took photos of her crotch. He then sent the images to the rest of his group.
Outraged, Martin snatched one of the men’s phones and ran to a police officer – and was shocked to be informed there was nothing they could do. There was no law that specifically made upskirting illegal.
Today, thanks to Martin’s courageous and tireless campaigning work, those police officers would be required to give a very different response. Following several months of political wrangling – thanks, Christopher Chope – new legislation making upskirting a criminal offence was finally approved in February. From April, taking upskirting photos will be punishable with up to two years in prison and being placed on the sex offenders’ register.
It’s because of this that Stylist was delighted to name Martin Equality Champion of the Year at our inaugural Remarkable Women Awards. The award recognises a woman who used her status and influence to champion the pursuit of gender equality in the last 12 months – and we could think of no worthier recipient than Martin.
Accepting her award, Martin paid tribute to those who supported her throughout her anti-upskirting campaign, who she described as “the kindest people and the most compassionate people”. They, she said, inspired her to push for change “that makes [society] better for everyone”.
Martin also used her time on stage to celebrate one of the remarkable women in her own life.
“My sister, Stevie Martin, is my favourite person in the whole world,” she said. “She taught me to be strong.
“And to Christopher Chope, who rejected my [upskirting] bill and the FGM bill – we will win.”
Martin was presented with her award by comedian Sarah Pascoe, who described her as “an incredible force and a true change maker” who “turned the abuse she faced into a triumph for all women”.
“Her dedication to this mission stood out to Stylist, and her commitment to make change is second-to-none,” Pascoe said. “[Martin] proves that grassroots campaigning can work, and that no one should back down when they feel that the law, or society, has treated them unjustly.”
To follow all of the action from the 2019 Remarkable Women Awards, check out Stylist’s live blog here.
Moya is Contributing Women’s Editor at stylist.co.uk and Deputy Editor of Stylist Loves, Stylist's daily email newsletter.