Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Girls join anti-harassment march

Girls join anti-harassment march

TWO teenagers took part in a day of action calling for an end to harassment in the workplace.

Kitty Pilgrim-Morris, from Shiplake, and Erin McLoughlin, from Henley, were part of group of about 80 people who joined a march on Parliament to lobby MPs.

The 18-year-olds, who are in their final year at Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School in Marlow, were joined by MPs Jess Philips and Maria Miller as well as Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, and activist Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu.

The event was organised by campaigning coalition Centenary Action Group, CARE International UK, the Fawcett Society and Not the Job, a campaign against third party sexual harassment in the workplace. Many of the participants carried placards saying: “#March4Women”. Miss Pilgrim-Morris said: “We don’t work full-time — we both have weekend jobs — but for us it was important to have a say in the world of work we will be going into and to be able to campaign for women’s rights, which we’re both really passionate about.

“It was a good opportunity to have a really exciting day and to meet people we were inspired by.”

The pair travelled to London by train and met the other campaigners at Central Hall in Westminster after walking together through Parliament Square.

There was a reception and lunch followed by an afternoon of networking and meetings.

Miss Pilgrim-Morris said: “Even though we were so much younger they didn’t treat us any differently to anyone else.”

The schoolgirls, who have set up a feminist society at their school, spoke to Henley MP Howell about workplace harassment laws and gave him letters calling for a change in the law to protect British employees from harassment and violence at work.

Mr Howell agreed to pass on the letters to International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and Alok Sharma, minister of state for employment and MP for Reading West.

Miss Pilgrim-Morris said: “We’ve definitely been inspired by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.

“I think reducing the stigma around harassment has made it easier for victims of it to come forward. Just making it more public means there’s a network of support for people to come forward.”

The Trades Union Congress carried out a poll which found more than half of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.

More than a third of other countries do not have any laws prohibiting workplace harassment and there is no international legal standard specifically to protect women at work from abuse.

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