A businesswoman from Radstock who has helped women in Africa get access to education is calling for women to continue the fight for greater gender equality.
Yvonne Bignall said great progress has been made since women won the right to vote in the UK 100 years ago – but more work is to be done.
Yvonne, who runs YvonneB Limited to support women in business or those looking to make lifestyle changes, said: “It has taken 100 years to get where we are now and it may take another 100 years to get where we want to be.”
Yvonne has volunteered as part of a team with W4 (Women’s WorldWideWeb), an organisation providing mentoring to women in developing countries and encouraging their empowerment.
The charity was able to help twenty women graduate last year – and saw five go onto get internships across Kenya.
Yvonne said: “This was a great outcome and shows what can be achieved when we work together. The women seized the chance to further their education, which has paid off.”
The single mum of one, who previously visited Downing Street to look at the affordability of childcare and ways to run a sustainable business, believes women in the UK can help raise standards for future generations.
She said: “We can take responsibility to make a change that will impact generations to come. It starts with us, our attitude and our actions.”
Yvonne, who has worked as a business consultant for nearly a decade, found many of the women she has worked with revealed they did not lead fulfilling lives.
It led her to set up Women Unmasked in Bath, where women meet monthly to offer practical support to each other, gain insight from experts and hear inspirational stories.
She said: “If we want to raise strong, confident women who will challenge the status quo then we need to start by addressing our own behaviours. Some women have a tendency to devalue themselves and not make time for their own dreams.
“It’s partly due to their nature as nurturers, their upbringing and society. If we better prioritise our own desires then we will be strong role models for girls growing up today.”
Yvonne has welcomed recent progress, including the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill. But she says there are still issues, such as the gender pay gap, to be addressed.
She said: “I’m grateful to all the women who have campaigned to bring in the changes we enjoy today. But there is still work to be done until women are given the same opportunities and treatment as men. I believe it starts with women setting an example and this includes showing gender equality in practice at home – from sharing household chores, to expressing ourselves freely.”