I want to speak up for all the fellow 'bad women' and 'bad girls' out there
Hey! I'm Cat, the founder of UNGIRL (formerly known as Leading Women). I'm from Scotland but started this organisation when I was living and working in Vietnam as a public speaking teacher.
I grew up with a deep understanding of gender equality in my family; my mum worked and my dad was the house father, so being a feminist was natural to me. I became aware of the problems women face when I went to school. I was surrounded with messages telling me to be more pretty, be more 'normal', be less outspoken as that's how i'll get male attention. I struggled with those messages for a long time but it wasn't until I moved to Vietnam and seen the intense inequality between men and women that I began actively speaking out about it.
Women are not invited into important discussions, their ideas and opinions are not valued. Their bodies are controlled by men, they face extreme domestic abuse cases and they're expected to be married and have a child very young. If a girl chooses to do something different...she's a 'bad woman' and faces being isolated from her community.
Women don't have many places to speak about these issues, and even less places to get social support. That's when I had the idea to host speaking nights for women in Saigon. Give them a place to be fully open and express who they are, talk about their passions and share their experiences and in doing so, connect with other women who resonate with their story. My experience as a public speaking teacher taught me the importance of a person's voice - it's their greatest power, and if it encouraged and nurtured, it can make the person incredibly strong.
So now my goal is to speak up for all the 'bad women' and 'bad girls', give them a space to feel welcomed and encourage them to use their voice too. That's what I want for the future of UNGIRL.
If you'd like to read more about my story, check out my blog post here.