Visible Women

From the #MeToo founder to a champion cyclist: the women making waves this week

Posted by
Moya Crockett
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites
Co-founder of Black Lives Matter Tarana Burke has signed the letter.

Dropping every Friday, Women Making Waves is a series highlighting the women who rocked the boat, pushed for change and made history around the world this week.    

Anna Burns becomes first Northern Irish writer to win Booker Prize 

Booker Prize winner Anna Burns 

On Tuesday (16 October), author Anna Burns made history as the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the Man Booker Prize.

Burns, who is also the first woman to win the Booker in five years, took home the coveted literary award for her novel Milkman. The novel follows a young female protagonist in an unnamed city that seems an awful lot like Belfast during the Troubles, who is being sexually harassed by a sinister milkman.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, the Booker’s chair of judges, said the judging panel felt that Milkman spoke to many concerns of today. “I think this novel will help people think about #MeToo … It is to be commended for giving us a deep and subtle and morally and intellectually challenging picture of what #MeToo is about,” he said.

However, Burns said that she didn’t mean the book to reflect the #MeToo movement – although she was glad if people felt they could draw connections between her novel and wider society.

“I started writing it in 2014,” she said. “People bring themselves to the writing. I’m happy for it to be taken that way. But this was just what I had to write.”

Glasgow women announce date of equal pay strike 

We first brought you the news that women in Glasgow planned to strike for equal pay back in a September instalment of Women Making Waves. On Tuesday, the women confirmed that the strike will take place on Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 October.

Around 8,000 low-paid women including school administration workers, nursery staff, cleaners and home carers are taking action over the city council, which they say has failed to settle ongoing equal pay disputes.

According to the union Unison, it will be the largest industrial action of this kind since the Equal Pay Act was passed following the Ford machinists’ strike in the Seventies, later immortalised in the film Made In Dagenham

For a handy guide to exactly why the women are striking, check out Economy’s explainer here

#MeToo founder calls out Bill Clinton for abusing his power

#MeToo founder Tarana Burke 

In a recent interview, Hillary Clinton indicated that she did not think her husband Bill had abused his power by having an affair with Monica Lewinsky, saying that Lewinsky was “an adult” at the time.

On Tuesday, however, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke argued that Clinton’s adulterous relationship with Lewinsky – which began when Lewinsky was a 22-year-old White House intern – was “absolutely an abuse of power”.

“The affair when it happened was consensual, and I recognise that,” Burke said in a video for The Root. “I think we all recognise that. Monica herself has said this was consensual.

“But it certainly is an abuse of power. You’re talking about an age dynamic, but you’re also talking about the president of the United States. The amount of accumulated power that is in that position alone, versus an intern?”

Burke added: “Sexual violence is not about sex. It’s about power, and it’s about the abuse of power. When I think about the things that Hillary Clinton said about the Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton affair not being an abuse of power, that is just tragic and it’s wrong.”

Scottish cyclist becomes fastest woman to ride around the world

On Thursday (19 October), Jenny Graham cycled down a wide, grand street in central Berlin, coming to a stop at the city’s famous Brandenburg Gate. It was the end of a 124-day journey that saw her criss-cross the globe, covering 18,000 miles and becoming the fastest woman to circumnavigate the world by bike.

Graham, a 37-year-old adventurer from Inverness, finished her trip almost three weeks faster than the previous record-holder. Her journey began in Berlin on 16 June and took her through 15 countries: Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Mongolia, China, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium and Holland.

Over the course of the ride, Graham cycled an average of 156 miles a day while carrying all of her kit on her bike and back. Speaking to reporters in Berlin, she said she had previously only ridden her bicycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

“It’s sometimes been tough, but I thrive on challenges on the road and so of course it has been amazing,” she said. “I knew I wanted to do something solo to test my physical and mental ability. I am the fittest I have ever been, so I thought I’d train hard and give it a go.”

Women Making Waves is part of Stylist’s Visible Women campaign to raise awareness of women who’ve made a difference to society. See more Visible Women stories here.  

Images: Getty Images