Siobhán McKenna - Senior Policy Officer - Diversity & Social Policy Team - Greater London Authority writes of her appreciation of being able to contribute to the Business in the Community Same But Different photography exhibition currently on view at City Hall, London.
2016 was a difficult year for women and progressives. We’d had a year where women in France were told what to wear on the beach; female tourists in India were told to wear trousers to prevent sexual violence; the Republican candidate in the US election was openly hostile and degrading to women yet was on course to become the 45th president; we’d seen horrific images of women and children fleeing war in Syria only to be met with a staggering lack of humanity across parts of Europe and further afield and a female MP was murdered on the streets of this country for standing up for tolerance and humanity.
I was still reeling from the Brexit referendum (and the all too predictable rise in hate crime that followed) and the impact it would have on my family, this country, as well as peace in Northern Ireland and prosperity in Ireland when I signed up for Same But Different last September. I also got involved because I am a feminist, I am a working mother of three children under five, I am an ethnic minority woman and I am an EU immigrant and suddenly it felt like all of those parts of my identity were under assault. Same But Different offered a creative way to express my views and contribute to the debate.
The exhibition will hang in City Hall’s Map Area from the 20th February to 10th March and is a Business in the Community photographic exploration of the rich diversity among women in workplace and the notion of intersectionality – that gender, ethnicity, disability, faith, sexual orientation intersect in all of us and create our unique personalities which we bring to work with us, every day. It is an attempt to amplify the stories of women that are not always heard. It has been a privilege to be involved with such an important project.
This is just the first phase of the project. Same But Different want to hear the stories of women from all around the country so if you want to be involved, check out: www.samedifferent.org.uk
Of course, had I known at the time that the exhibition would hang in City Hall and that my lucky colleagues would get to see my face hanging on the wall every day as they went to get lunch, I would probably have thought twice!