THURSDAY 8 MAR 2018 2:55 PM


In 1996, a groundbreaking initiative was taken, starting with a seemingly simple question towards British women, ‘What do you want?’ The beginning of What Women Want 2.0, a non-partisan survey project, was revolutionary in its simplicity. No-one had ever thought to ask women what they really wanted before, giving them a voice to speak for themselves and refute the misconceptions of the patriarchy regarding their opinions and desires.

The What Women Want 2.0 project aims at raising awareness of how far society has come regarding women’s rights and social justice, as well as educating the world about the complexity of being a woman in the 21st century, their experiences and their struggles by keeping a record of the ambitions and views of strong independent women that live and work in the UK.  The project, supported by brand agency Pixeldot, got 8749 valid responses. 23% of the respondents were between the age of 31-40, 38.9% were mothers and most of them lived within the Greater London area. The fact however that 86.6% of them were white, with only 13,4% identifying as belonging to a different community is a problem itself, highlighting the lack of acknowledgement of the intricate and massive diversity within the feminist movements.

Back in 1996, women were asked to write their views on postcards found in several places across the country, but mostly in branches of the Body Shop. The number of participants was impressive, with 10.000 women joining and making the social experiment a success. The first survey managed to influence government policy through the changes it brought in Labour Party policy, such as doubling maternity pay, introducing new laws on domestic violence and strengthening victim support. The messages written on the postcards, for example ‘No tax on Tampax’ and ‘More community support for full-time mothering’, are still topical today, so much so that it inevitably raises the question if any change has been made at all.

Since women accomplished being heard when all they had were postcards, now, with the help of technology and the power of social media as a leveler and a tool to spread the message, What Women Want 2.0 can be hopeful for its impact on society. Consequently, its campaign is set to influence public and political debate as well as start a discussion that will bring positive change.

Yesterday on March 7, just a day before the celebration of International Women’s Day, What Women Want 2.0 launched its first report with great success, managing to become no.1 trending on Twitter in London. The report, is written in its entirety by a diverse group of women aged from 19 to 87 who are passionate in what they do. It is run by volunteers and sponsored by big companies such as Darwin, Fedrigoni and the Guardian and it touches on all of the burning issues, from feminism and intersectionality to safety and violence.

 Following the launch, all the social media platforms of the project have been updated with photos from the event, with some of them displaying new messages that women have written in response to what they want. ‘For women’s voices to make up half the conversation in government, business and the media’ is one of the many messages that sums up what this project is all about.

According to Natalie Burns, strategist at Pixeldot and advisor to the What Women Want 2.0 team, "As strategic branding agency bursting with women, we believe that equality, diversity and representation create better ideas and greater progress - so when the opportunity to support the What Women Want 2.0 campaign through design came through we were eager to get involved."

"Given the report gives platform to the voices of thousands of British women, we wanted to create a design and document that echoed that sentiment, and embodied the energy behind the women's movement. In that respect, it's also been a pleasure for our designers to work alongside a group of talented British female illustrators who generously gave their time to the report."  

In the What Women Want platform, women get to use ‘their own words, on their own terms’. This moto is central to the project’s campaign, while stressing the fact that this campaign is for “the many, not the few”, as both women and men will benefit from a world where equality has been achieved.

On International Women's Day read more articles about women and communications.

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