When I interviewed Miriam O’Reilly a while ago we talked about what good she thought had come from her court case with the BBC. Here’s that question:
What have been the three most positive things for you to have come out of this bruising (but ultimately triumphant) encounter?
The first is the incredible women I have become friends with as a result of my case. Although I lost friends at the BBC I have gained far more and these will be lasting friendships. I have made friends through the Women’s Equality Network, but also with inspirational women from other walks of life who got in touch with me during the fight and afterwards.
I have also realised what a wonderful family I have and how much unselfish love and support they have for me.
I’ve also learned that, win or lose, if you stand up for something you believe in you will always triumph as a human being.
The Women’s Equalities Network
I’ve been back this week to take a look at the work of the Women’s Equalities Network (which welcomes everyone, by the way, although, the vast majority of discrimination cases are brought by women); it’s a much needed resource for women facing discrimination at work. I asked Miriam about the work that WEN does (she is the patron) and she said:
“WEN supports women facing discrimination at work, both practically, with sound legal advice and other women’s experiences, and emotionally. The effect of being held back at work, or worse, losing your job because of your gender, destroys lives. I know we have made a difference already. This all came about because of my case.
So many women got in touch we felt we had to do something. I had a picture sent to me from one woman with her three children, saying it’s not just my life, it’s our lives WEN is helping.
I would rather woman didn’t need our support at all, but sadly legal action is the only recourse many women feel they have. We always encourage women to do their utmost to resolve their dispute with their employer. I always really emphasis how damaging, emotionally and financially, legal action can be. By the time most women get in touch they have already exhausted every avenue, and have felt so powerless in the face of discrimination they can’t see another way.
All of the women talk about getting justice. They want to expose what happened so employers might think twice about doing it again. Some of the stories I’ve heard about the treatment of women in the workplace are shocking and have no place in a civilised society”
I also spoke with Miriam’s lawyer and fellow founder of The Equality Network, Camilla Palmer, another very extraordinary woman who has spent a lifetime supporting women and taken their cases as far as the European Court of Justice.
Meantime, if you know anyone who is being discriminated against at work please do tell them about the network. They can talk to women who have faced similar issues, get proper advice, and be listened to.
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Posted on July 17th, 2012 by Jane