• Friday, March 8, 2024
International Women's Day 2024 - #InspireInclusion

To celebrate International Women's Day 2024 and its ‘Inspire Inclusion’ theme, Trinity pupil barristers (pictured L-R) Sophie Johnstone, Estelle Chambers and Amy Nerou reflect on the recent interview of The Rt Hon. the Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE at her North Yorkshire home by Family Law Solicitor and Partner, Oluwapelumi Amanda Adeola.

Lady Hale highlights the many 'firsts' in her career, including being the first woman to be appointed to the Law Commission, the only woman to be appointed Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in the House of Lords and ultimately becoming President of the Supreme Court from 2017 until her retirement in 2020.

Sophie Johnstone

Since the start of my legal journey, Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE has been a figure of great inspiration to me. I have listened to this interview carefully and felt an overwhelming sense of pride to be a woman in the law. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day of Inspired Inclusion is encapsulated in this interview beautifully.

As a young and career-driven woman, it is only natural to feel somewhat apprehensive about the challenges that accompany life as a working woman. Such challenges include the prospect of starting a family whilst maintaining a strong and unwavering desire to have a successful career. As is touched upon in the interview – can we really have it all?

Lady Hale’s take on this is encouraging, acknowledging that juggling family life with a career as a full practising lawyer is certainly hard work. However, her conclusion is firm – it is certainly achievable. To hear the often all too needed reassurance that having a family is not the death of your career is promising, and indeed reiterates the point of inspired inclusion.

My favourite quote of this interview is that whilst it can be very difficult to “have it all” we should not give up the aspiration if that is what we want. Indeed, as I continue my exciting and challenging journey, I will not give up on my own aspirations and goals, and I will endeavour to achieve it all. I think that’s really an uplifting testament to inspired inclusion.

On the days filled with self-doubt, Lady Hale’s words offer a piece of comfort. When faced with the feeling of imposter syndrome, she tells us give it your best; somebody thought you could do it – otherwise you would not be here. This is an uplifting and empowering statement, from a woman who has broken boundaries to pave the future path for women in the legal sector.

Estelle Chambers

This interview with Lady Hale takes us back to a time when only 2.5% of women went to university. This is a powerful reflection, highlighting the immense progress we've made towards a more inclusive educational environment.

Lady Hale gave an inspirational insight into how she managed being among a minority of women in her field. Her "why not" attitude is inspiring and something I hope to implement into my own career. Even when faced with daunting opportunities, her approach encourages us to embrace challenges, despite any particular setbacks we may encounter.

The interview also delves into the ever-present imposter syndrome, something many women have experienced. I myself am a first-generation university student from a state school system, Lady Hale's quote, "well somebody thought you could do it, otherwise, you wouldn't be here," really hit home. It is a reminder that someone believes in our abilities, even when we might question them ourselves.

Furthermore, the discussion between Lady Hale and Amanda about balancing a family alongside a career at the bar is particularly noteworthy. Openly discussing the challenges of juggling work and family life is crucial to ensure women feel empowered to pursue both, if that is what they wish to do, without fear of judgment or stigma.

Amy Nerou

Celebrating female ambition and endeavour is one of the most important ways to inspire women to fight to be included. Amanda and Lady Hale put this vital component at the front and centre of their discussion. Their conversation acknowledges the multiple and varied forms that individual ambition can take; emphasises the importance of seizing every opportunity; and allowing yourself to shape and reshape your ambition. In a world where woman often feel limited by insidious narratives regarding the choice between a career and a family, where loud and vocal ambition is often minimised and quieted, demonstrating pride and joy in ambition is vital to inspire women to overcome the additional challenges we face to be included.

Importantly, this discussion candidly acknowledges the support networks women often need to achieve their ambition in work and at home. Accurate and frank conversation about the reality of ambition can only encourage women to engage. Vitally, this conversation demonstrates that there is no shame in having help. It is a message that is essential: having help in no way detracts from your accomplishments. There is equal ambition in ‘having it all’, and having it all with assistance. I am heartened to see that so openly admitted and discussed.

Happily, this interview celebrates the progress that has been made in regards to female representation in the law and the judiciary. It is rightfully commended that 40% of the District and Circuit Bench are now women. This is significant progress compared to the 10 High Court Judges upon Lady Hale’s first appointment. That number also makes me even more proud of the Family practitioners and Judiciary in Newcastle, where we exceed that in female representation, and where every day as a pupil I take joy observing such successful and ambitious women. They are inspiring.

There is still so much work to be done, for women to feel included without question or (self) doubt. As a recipient of the Gray’s Inn Lady Hale scholarship, I look forward to following in the footsteps of these ambitious women and doing my part to welcome others into this space.

Commenting on the video feedback, Family Law Solicitor and Partner, Oluwapelumi Amanda Adeola, who conducted the Lady Hale interview said:

“It was an absolute honour to be able to sit with Lady Hale to discuss her wonderful career, the impact she has had and continues to have as well as the inspiration she creates in us all to recognise that we have it in us to be more than we can dream to be. Lady Hale reminds us to celebrate the strength we have as women and to celebrate our diversity.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day of #InspireInclusion reminds us to continue our work towards a world where women are respected, empowered and the gender pay gap is closed. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women all around the world and acknowledging the unique challenges that we face. If we can all work towards a future where inclusion is the bedrock of our society, we will be closer towards our journey of equality.”

The full interview can be found here:

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