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Join the real fight to save women, says Jackie Elliot

12th March 2018


PR professionals should direct the global publicity machine to help women and girls who face serious physical and mental damage and death as a result of domestic violence, abuse and incest; sex trafficking, forced marriage, FGM, and rape used as a weapon of war says Jackie Elliot, CEO of communications firm Cathcart consulting 

"#MeToo" and "#TimesUp", hush money, black frocks and white roses are all getting me riled up now. Genuine grievances have been taken over by the designer ‘Pitchforks & Torches’ brigade, bringing hysteria and the whiff of fashion to issues that are, internationally, much more serious and damaging. Catherine Deneuve, Jennifer Lawrence and some others have attempted to bring a sense of balance to the outrage, but it seems that anything other than complete commitment to the #girlgoodboybad movement is unacceptable.

We must push for change

Professionally, there are sectors where institutionalised discrimination still exists and where women are still penalised for having babies and raising families. It's better than it was in this country and certainly better here than many other countries, including the US. And to have an open and informed debate about professional parity, to push for change and to develop new policy is imperative and worth our time and effort. Probably more useful than mewing about whether a film star is carrying a white rose or displaying too much cleavage.

Our business is well aware of the value of celebrity endorsement and the worldwide publicity that can be stirred by attaching famous names to a cause. As a direct result of the whole hearted commitment to publicity and fund-raising by the world's creative artists from many different genres and communities (and notably Hollywood) the tragedy of AIDS became a triumph for medical science that has saved many lives.

Battle to save lives

Why not direct the current global publicity machine to the benefit of women and girls who face serious physical and mental damage and death as a result of domestic violence, abuse and incest; sex trafficking, forced marriage, FGM, and rape used as a weapon of war?

Where is the discussion about all those real issues in the first-world debate about hurt feelings and flashers? Couldn't the millions being raised for #TimesUp be used to make changes in parts of the world where harassment means the difference between life and death?

The disappointing paradox at the heart of much of this debate is that the protagonists are behaving in a way women are often perceived to behave: it's rather emotional, sometimes irrational, there is some selective thinking going on and it's been highly personalised. Shame.

Further reading

Sue Lloyd-Roberts book, The War on Women, puts things into perspective. It's a really tough and heartbreaking book. Lloyd-Roberts was the UK's first female video-journalist, with a 30-year-long career in human-rights reporting. Llloyd-Roberts discusses the atrocities inflicted on women around the world: from the pay gap to female genital mutilation, including, shockingly, in the UK. She highlights issues we should all, as communicators, be giving more oxygen to.

Written by Jackie Elliot, CEO of communications firm Cathcart Consulting



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