Friday, 23 August 2013

Women In A Man's World


It is a firmly held view by organisations such as the UN and World Bank that women empowerment and gender equality is key to sustainable development. Allowing more women access to equal opportunities allows them to emerge as social and economic actors in their own rights. This is thought to be important in “influencing more inclusive policies” thereby increasing “investment in education, health and overall wellbeing”. So why do women have so little say in the highest echelons of influence and decision making?

Women’s limited influence in politics can clearly be seen in that of the 195 countries in the world, only 17 have female leaders. Other statistics draw a similar conclusion; in Europe only 20% of women hold seats in national parliaments, through this is higher than the 14% of women in the Middle East. In many countries quotas have to be put in place to ensure that women make-up an acceptable section of the electoral candidates. The small voice of women on the political landscape allows inequality to continue in other areas of society, particularly employment. Although women and men appear in the broad work force in equal numbers, few women make it to the executive suite, widely viewed as a ‘man’s world’. In recent years more and more women are breaking from the mould and challenging the rife inequality in big businesses across the globe.

Just this month, Suh Young Kyung (above left) became the first female deputy governor at the Bank of Korea in the company's 63-years. Suh's rise to the third-highest job in the company is noteworthy, not only because of her relatively young age, 50, but also because it comes just 7 months after she became the first woman in her current position of post-division chief at the Monetary Policy and Markets Department. Although it wasn't always easy for her; in 1988 when she first joined the company she found that it was "entirely dominated by men". She also shared that she was expected to wear a schoolgirl-style outfit - which she refused to do. “They tried to force me to wear the same uniform as high-school graduate while giving money to my male colleagues to buy a suit every season”. Suh hopes that although her new position as a role model is a “great burden”, she will be able to create more opportunities for women.

Suh’s rapid success is inspiring, but female executives such as Irene Dorner (above centre) and Sheryl Sandberg (above right) say that such incidences are few because women are preventing their own success. Irene, chief executive of HSBC USA is one of the few women to have breached the upper levels of finance but she blames herself and female colleagues for the lack of women in corporate industries. She admits that she didn’t push hard enough to change the male-dominated “status quo”, rather she kept her head down, focusing on her own career. Another view from Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, argues that women may be holding themselves back in the workplace “by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands and by pulling back when we should be leaning in”.

Many companies should receive some credit for attempts at reducing the gender gap, although efforts have achieved various degrees of success. Big corporations have created networking and mentorship programs to develop talent, while non-profit groups have focused on education for high school girls. In Norway, it is a requirement that 40% of board members of public companies are to be women, something other European countries are now considering. The Bank of Korea, where Suh is one of the 3 women in the banks 230 high-level positions, has been pushing for a change under Governor Kim Choong Soo who wants to promote diversity within the company. In 2005, women accounted for just 14% of the BOK’s total workforce, this has steadily increased to about 20%. Although changes in these institutions are small and slow, it hopefully foreshadows larger and more frequent change to come.

(photos, quotes and statistics: nytimes.com, bloomberg.com, worldbank.org)

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson


This Sunday just gone, we held belated birthday celebrations for my mum's 50th birthday. She has never liked to make a big deal out of her birthday, but seeing as it was the big five-oh, she decided to do something to mark the occasion. She decided on afternoon tea with her daughters, sister and nieces. After a lengthy time of indecision, I took it into my own hands to arrange. After some google-ing, I found a high tea held at the Sanderson Hotel in Oxford Circus where you are invited to "tumble down the rabbit hole" with their Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea. The Sanderson is an ultra modern hotel with a 5 star deluxe rating, complete with a grand billiard room, galaxy decorated lifts and extravagant throne chairs - the only way it can really be described is as fabulously flamboyant.
The afternoon tea was inspired by the classic children's story Alice in Wonderland. Upon sitting down at our table, we received our menu, hidden in a vintage book. Then we were given a choice between standard teas or their special blend of teas, including mint and chocolate, strawberries and cream, rhubarb and custard and apple crumble; these were served in teapots adorned with kings and queens, clocks, birdcages and carousels to reinforce the fantasy element of the event. Dainty rolled-up sandwiches were then served along with savoury and sweet scones with by herb butter, clotted cream and fruit preserves. Then came three tiers of beautifully presented goodies. This is where the impressive culinary whimsicality could most be seen. We enjoyed carrot meringue, Victoria sponge, melting mango cheesecake, and green tea moose with popping candy. A particularly fun treat was the 'Drink Me' bottle, containing 3 layers of different flavoured panna cottas drank through a straw, giving you the opportunity to taste each layer of goodness. After this you are invited to help your self to the 'Jelly Wonderland', offering a selection of homemade jellies. Then my mum had the moment she was dreading, a small slice of cake was brought out with a candle on, signalling the start to a loud chorus of "happy birthday to you...". Feeling well and truly stuffed, we then headed to the bar to try some of their interesting cocktails. I ordered a 'Deluxe Mojito', topped up not with lemonade, but champagne (you can imagine how deadly that would be). After this, feeling slightly tipsy but very satisfied, we made our way home.
I would definitely recommend the Sanderson's afternoon tea, which offers a break from traditional and expected high tea served at most prestigious hotels and adds a lot of fun to the occasion. Even if you are not a fan of high tea, I would still encourage a nose around the hotel as the decor is unreal!

For the day, I wore black skinny jeans with my new Dune riding boots. On top I wore a white vest and a Zara silk kimono style jacket, with pretty oriental patterns and I carried my favourite summer handbag from H&M.

Friday, 9 August 2013

My Summer Diary, Part II: Exploring Thailand

I came back from Kavos at midnight on the Wednesday 17th July and was in London for 5 days before I set off on my family holiday to Thailand. For some strange reason I thought I would be able to go into work on the Thursday - how wrong I was. It was a miracle I even got up! I spent the morning fighting to keep my eyes open and after about 4 Red Bulls, I managed to survive the day! The weekend was then a manic mess, trying to pack and prepare for Thailand, but I was beyond excited, as it is a country I have always wanted to visit!
On the 23rd July, my parents, my 2 sisters and I set off to Heathrow to board our flight to Chaing Mai, a city in the north of Thailand. Upon our arrival in Chaing Mai, I realised that this was not going to me the sunny holiday I had envisioned. I was informed that it was indeed the rainy season and that where it usually took 15mins to get to our hotel, it was going to take 1 hour because of the floods. Our transfer then drove through ridiculously deep waters, as I gazed out impressed at the locals who carried on with their days as though there was no torrential downpours. I quickly got over the poor weather as Chaig Mai is an amazing city. We spent our time there wandering the streets, visiting the exquisite temples and browsing the night markets. 
After 4 days there, we took a 2 hour flight to the north of the country to stay in the resort city of Phuket where we stayed for 4 days. The weather was considerably better there, so we mostly relaxed by the pool and chilled on the beach. 
After that, we took a coach to Khao Sok to stay in the Elephant Hills in the jungle for 4 days. Here we had the opportunity to go to an elephant sanctuary, explore mangroves, canoe down a river in the rainforest and so much more! In the evenings, my sisters and I snuggled in the hammock outside our room and just watched the beautiful scenery of steam covered mountains and exotic plants surrounding us.
Following that, we made our way back to Phuket to spend another 3 days in the sunshine before we had to head back to London.
It was such an incredible experience and i definitely want to go back to Thailand as there are so many other cities and sites that I'd love to visit.

Here are some photos from my trip:

Chaing Mai
 Khao Sok
 Phuket

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

My Summer Diary, Part I: Party Time In Kavos

Hey bloggers! I'm sorry for the lack in posts last month, but I'm back from holiday now and ready to make it up to you!

On the 10th July, 6 of my friends and I set off for Luton airport to catch our flight to the beautiful Greek island of Corfu. We stayed in (the not so beautiful, but great fun) resort of Kavos, known for its bars, clubs and wild nights out. We had an amazing 7 days relaxing on the beach, tanning by the pool and partying the night away. A week was the perfect amount of time for me - I probably would have got alcohol poisoning if it had gone on any longer! It was the perfect break from work and also a great opportunity for me to catch up with my friends, who I do not see as often any more because we are at different universities, some have full time jobs and two of my friends had just returned from months of travelling.

Here are some photos from my holiday:
Me (in AX Paris dress in the middle) on our first night! We had got off the plane about 9 in the evening and by 11 we were ready to party! 
Obligatory tacky 'Kavos' tops for our last night!

This type of partying holiday is not for everyone I'm aware, but I had an awesome time! 

Is anyone going/been on a similar holiday?
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