Why I’m excited to ‘Show Up’ for the first TEDxLondonWomen event

On the 1st December, people from across London and beyond will come to the first ever TEDxLondonWomen event, held as part of the Global TEDWomen programme. Maryam Pasha is the Director and Curator of TEDxLondon. Here’s why she is excited to be showing up and why we’ve turned the spotlight on women this year.

 

In September this year, Belfast-born astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was finally given recognition for her discovery of pulsars (one of the most significant discoveries in physics), when she was awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. She promptly gave away the £2.3 million prize money to the Institute of Physics to support underrepresented groups in the sciences. Back in 1974, two of her male colleagues were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the research but Bell Burnell had been overlooked. It’s certainly not the first time we’ve heard this kind of story about women in science and in many other fields.

From the #MeToo and ‘Time’s Up’ campaigns, to women’s marches all over the globe, to Prime Ministers giving birth while in office, to historic results for women in the US midterm elections, there is an undeniable groundswell of activity happening right now that is changing the conversation around gender and women’s rights – these are exciting times!

Women, non-binary and genderqueer people around the world are rising up, breaking out and pushing boundaries to help shape the future we all want to see. We’re exploring why the time is right to go beyond the headlines, behind the global movements and bring you insights on some of the issues, local and global, that encourage us to challenge the status quo.

On the 1st December, people from across London and beyond will come together at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall for the first ever TEDxLondonWomen event – held as part of the Global TEDWomen events programme. For one incredible afternoon, our TEDxLondon stage will be a platform for stories from a dynamic and diverse group of speakers, exploring what it means to “show up” in many aspects of daily life and across a whole range of different disciplines.

As Director and Curator of TEDxLondon, I couldn’t be more excited for December to arrive. Yet, outside of the core TEDxLondon team and our Tribe of volunteers, the response has been polarised, even divisive. TEDWomen, and the associated TEDx events, have been met with every imaginable reaction. There are those who question the need to create a female-focused space, those who call for increased representation at standard TED events (we agree with you) and those whose voices are more hateful and want to exclude certain groups.

TEDxLondonWomen embodies how previously marginalised voices can be incredible architects of change – when given the spotlight and support. Women are moving into the spotlight across sectors, stepping into leadership roles, offering new solutions to pressing global issues, raising their voices and expressing their anger when they know the status quo needs to change. It’s more important than ever that we hear those voices now.

TEDxLondonWomen was not created to segregate speakers or attendees – our goal is to have diversity both on our stage and in our audience. Expect to be challenged, intrigued, surprised and excited. We hope you hear things you don’t agree with, perspectives that go against your established mode of thinking, and, at the very least, new ideas and insights to reflect on, and, perhaps, integrate into your day-to-day life.

We are a platform for surfacing and sharing ideas. Our aim is to be truthful, not neutral and we are guided by our values of equality and representation. TEDxLondonWomen reflects those principles and we invite our audience to embrace them as wholeheartedly as we do.

We can’t wait to share the amazing talks from TEDxLondonWomen with you!