International Women’s Day 2018: Let’s call out the abuse of power in all its guises

On International Women’s Day 2018, Riverside’s Chief Executive Carol Matthews reflects on the role models we should celebrate… and the behaviours we should all challenge.


“The great thing about being a part of a national housing, care and support group is I have the pleasure of being on every kind of public transport, battering away at my emails or reports as I earwig happily at the prattle around me.

The fallout from Jimmy Savile was everywhere a few years ago and the Harvey Weinstein revelations have definitely featured in train carriage and café conversations as it has unfolded.

My shock at the scale of the women and men calling out as part of #metoo has then turned to anger at some of the nonsense that I’ve heard and had said to me about sexual harassment and bullying.

As Weinstein flooded over into Westminster politics and the media, I’ve started to hear comments like ‘Women today don’t know that they are born’; ‘Some people need to toughen up’; ‘Gosh it’s getting to the stage where you won’t be able to open your mouth’ and ‘Thank goodness that I’m happily married!’

#metoo isn’t about killing the fun in the workplace – it’s about calling out the abuse of power in all its guises. It can be a shocking physical attack or an insidious campaign associated with belittling, courting and grooming.

It isn’t about vulnerability, indeed some of the beautiful, strong and confident women who have been subject to sexual harassment talk about the threats made to their future careers, earnings and status by people who have power, control and networks that can be used against the individual who refuses to comply with the demands made of them.

This is a time when all women and men should stand with and up for the right kind of professional behaviours in the workplace. We should support wonderful role models like Alison Inman, President of the CIH, who has made Women’s Aid her presidential appeal – more violence happens in the domestic setting than anywhere else.

Let’s not see these charities or campaigns as marginal, niche or a lack of ability to cope with banter. Let’s call it for what it is – the abuse of power.”