Eglantyne Jebb

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Today, 8th March, is International Women’s Day.

Dawn French said: ‘Inflatable boy goes into inflatable school with inflatable headmaster and runs amok with a drawing pin. Headmaster says, ‘I’m very disappointed in you. You’ve let me down, you’ve let your school down, you’ve let yourself down.’’  

IWD raises concerns for gender equality, the gender pay gap, the lack of female leaders, global prejudice against women…

The pandemic has affected women. UK research points to women doing more domestic chores and family care. Many have carried the burden of home schooling; there’s been an increase in domestic abuse against women.

The theme for IWD 2021 is “Choose to Challenge”

Eglantyne Jebb (1876-1928) had a strong Christian faith, social conscience and commitment to public service. Following the First World War children across Europe were sick and starving. Eglantyne was part of the ‘Fight the Famine’ movement…

In 1919 she was arrested for distributing leaflets in Trafalgar Square. With the headline: ‘Our Blockade has caused this – millions of children are starving to death’ they showed shocking images of children affected by famine.

In court Eglantyne conducted her own legal defence and focused on the moral case. The crown prosecutor, Sir Archibald Bodkin, found her guilty. However, having passed his verdict, he handed her a £5 note, the sum of her fine.

Her passion and compassion led her from campaigning to direct action. In May 1919, following a packed public meeting in London’s Royal Albert Hall, Jebb set up the ‘Save the Children Fund’.

Unlike anything else seen at the time page-length advertisements in national newspapers  and films screened in cinemas across the country showed the conditions that starving children were facing, and the disaster work in operation.

Significant amounts of money were raised and sent to organisations working to feed and educate children across Europe. Eglantyne’s ‘Save the Children Fund’ continues to this day…

Eglantyne ‘let nobody down’; she ‘chose to challenge’.

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