President’s Message March 2021

Dear Ladies,

Spring is here and there are signs of tiny bright green leaves appearing on my geraniums and the lavender is making every effort to be noticed. 

The extended daylight has a positive effect on our mood and this is just as well as we need to remain patient and cautious as we approach our renewed freedom to socialise. Socialising is such an important factor in our lives: it’s a defining feature of being human and many people, of all ages, are badly affected when it is severely restricted. We are fortunate to be members of a group which offers us a sense of belonging when we join together to attend interesting and entertaining events and exchange pictures, messages and ideas with our supportive chat lines. 

International Women’s Day is fast approaching, a landmark in our calendar and an important celebration of the acquiring of various women’s rights.

From powerful women such as Helen of Troy and Boudica, fast forward to the Suffragettes, founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in October 1803. The Suffragettes fought hard for these rights.  It was the dawn of the slow rise of women to today’s top appointments with major influencing roles. There are 21 countries with women as heads of state (out of approximately 194) and 5% of FTSE 100 have a woman as CEO. It’s a start.  

But women are still grossly under represented at all levels of decision making world wide. I dip into a website ‘UN Women’ from time to time to follow progress:  The organisation has a list of aims year by year from 2020 – 2024. For example: 2021 (extract) – Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Under review is women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development. 

It’s just about a year since lockdown became a part of life and all of us had to alter our plans and learn to communicate much more on line and in particular via  Zoom. Zoom has served us well, facilitating a myriad of events from FIWAL and our member clubs. Two very recent events show how far we have come in providing a wide range of topics attracting increasing numbers of followers.

FIWAL recently hosted Women in Power, the Art of Power Dressing, in aid of the charity Dress for Success. Presented by Meridith Towne, an historic dressmaker and serious collector of original costume. Her lively talk was a tour de force of the history and the art of power dressing.  Meridith took us thorough a fascinating history of women who expressed their power through ‘costume’ including Queen Elizabeth 1st (who reigned for 45yrs), with her elaborate costumes of delicate lace and pearls and precious jewels and furs. We also saw a portrait of the empress of China, who reigned for 50yrs, elaborately clad in magnificent silk and pearls and very intricate headdresses. Both of these royal ladies, through their intelligence and sound strategies brought a great deal of prosperity to their respective nations.   

Fionnuala Shannon, Executive Director of Dress for Success Greater London, one of the 150 branches world wide, gave us an overview of the aims and successes of the charity. Through support and advice women can be prepared and dressed for interviews that will positively change their lives. The registered charity empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. This has a liberating effect for women to become economically viable, to support their children and be role models for others. Suitable clothes can be donated, so please visit the website for more details of this very worthy cause which has long term beneficial effects for women world wide. 

The Ukrainian Cultural Association (UCA-UK) lives up to its name with a schedule of events on music, poetry and Ukrainian cuisine. Alla Sirenko, an accomplished pianist and composer, presented a wonderful concert on Saturday evening, with an eclectic programme of highlights from the Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra. The programme featured talented young musicians, some who started performing at the age of 6yrs such as the Oboe player Stepan Syvokhip, 15 years old, also the brilliant 15yr old virtuoso pianist Khrystuna Mihailichenko, both are now commanding large audiences. Money was raised for the Ukrainian orphaned children. 

Like you, I look forward to leaving the winter behind and moving closer to seeing the people I miss most; close family and long term friends. It is frustrating that we must make those moves so slowly but the science dictates it is essential in order to avoid another spike in cases of the virus and it’s variants.  I wish you all patience, courage and joyful reunions.

Warm Regards, 



Siobhan Hamilton-Phillips

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