#CrackingTheCode – Serving or Surveilling Women – Part 2

TW // Sexual Violence / Sexual Exploitation / Violence against a minor / online abuse

Firstly, can I start off this Part 2 by saying that being a UN Women’s Delegate has been a mix of emotions. What an absolute whirlwind of 2-3 weeks it was! I feel like I’ve been in a tornado, swept off my feet, inwardly screaming as I see a cow flying past me mooing in confusion and then being spat out on the floor with cartoon dizzy eyes. I have never been a UN Women’s Delegate before, and I hate to admit it but I have only really known a little bit about the United Nations, I hadn’t even realised UN Women was a thing until I saw that advert on Instagram. I applied on a whim.

Tell a lie, I went to apply, chickened out, closed the app, bit my fingernails, walked away, made a cup of tea, realised I’d forgot to boil the kettle, made another cup of tea, and went back to Instagram, almost rushing (if you see a cartoon character of legs flailing about and almost dropping my phone… well, it wasn’t quite like that, but the intention behind it was?). I actually remember trying to find the advert again on Instagram and panicking that I had missed my opportunity. I’m not usually one to believe in fate, in destiny, it sounds so cliché, this isn’t a hallmark movie. But I literally had a moment where I thought I had allowed a brilliant opportunity to pass me by. I literally thought, “What if this is the moment I needed? What if this is my opportunity to make a difference? What if this will give me the information, tools and connections I need to get started with my business?”

But I thankfully found it again (don’t ask me how!), and I applied.

The last two to three weeks, however, like I have said before, has been a mix of information, links, companies, people, pictures, hashtags, ideas, words, all melding into one confusing slush. So much was happening all at once that my little brain was struggling to keep up with it all. I was still stuck on the concept of what the UN Women actually did that I was struggling to take anything else in. It was going in, my brain was picking up the chunks, they were multiplying in it’s hands, breaking apart, running amok, painting on the walls, and my brain would give me a startled expression and say… “I’m sorry, what do we do with all this?”

There was even a reflection on the UN Women’s in-person event, my panic of whether I utilized that time effectively enough, whether I contributed to the discussion enough. I genuinely still worry that my brain was stuck (hyper-focusing) on one issue (I remember being still annoyed that applying ‘policies’ isn’t enough, that we actually need action from those policies, we need accountability… that chuck had managed to avoid capture, escaped into a remote area of my brain and paint my childhood cat bright green… sorry Fluffy) that I probably didn’t contribute well enough as much as I should. Never mind my neurodivergent brain was struggling with what I actually wanted to say and actually making it tangible and coherent for real people to understand. I was literally a dear in headlights. There were so many enthusiastic, emotional, and downright brilliant women (and man!), that I felt so small in comparison. There was a journalist, a digital media specialist, a project manager, a policy maker, butcher, baker, candlestick maker, there was so many to keep up with, to be honest. But they all had one thing in common; they all knew what they wanted to say about the topic we were supposed to be discussing. Best I can do is “I make computers go burr?” I still see one girl’s look as we had to break away from our small group and come up with ideas, the first thing I said when she asked me what I was thinking was “I have no idea!” and laugh awkwardly, where as she already knew exactly what she wanted to say. I was struggling too to take in what she very enthusiastically needed to say, as the chatter behind me grew, the chunk with the green paint had moved onto a ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ wall hanging at the back of my skull, and my inner voice was reminiscing over the awkward laugh while rocking back and forth quietly sobbing.

But I’m trying not to beat myself up, because I am still taking away a lot, I still contributed to conversations which at least, hopefully, sparked a discussion on points maybe missed, and there are many opportunities now after CSW67. I also know that some of the ideas I had were still in-line with what others had said already, which, I am going to take away as me being on the same lines as the others. At least I wasn’t way off with the fairies… watching the trail of green footprints.

Besides, my main takeaway, if anything, is the enthusiasm of learning more and doing more for gender equality. We are 300 years off, globally, to be even close to being entirely equal. I’m not happy with that. As many others aren’t. I want to do something about it.

But, of course, this post is Part 2 of #CrackingTheCode – Serving or Surveilling Women (there are links on the bottom of this post if you missed the first one (how rude) and need to catch up). This post is mostly going to be discussing my own thoughts on the topic that I joined in on, I could continue talking about other topics, gender bias in AI and algorithms (or as you may now come to know as the chunk with the green paint who has decided to chain itself to a tree – don’t ask me where the tree came from), limited access to funding (slightly smaller chunk that is writing numbers on the walls around the green paw-prints – also don’t ask), the broken record of issues with the gender pay gap and lack of women in leadership positions (the ones who have been there for a while who are dusting off their cobwebs and handing out maps). So, let’s focus on this chunk that managed to fall into a hole, get stuck there and is yelling obscenities to the light at the top.

(Crap, my cup of tea is cold)

Just to recap, the team I was in discussed:

“As we store more and more of our lives online, and institutions are able to access our data to serve us with increasingly personalised and relevant offers, how do we protect privacy for those who are most vulnerable to exploitation – both by the Private Sector, and by the State?”

Following instructions, we started off by introducing ourselves, who we are and what we do, writing down emotive words onto post-it notes to use as motivators, which, accidentally, took up a fair chunk of time. We then split off into pairs to discuss ideas – we had a few pointers to help. I forget what they are, but I remember reading ‘policies’ and that’s when my brain went off on it’s own little adventure causing havoc inside my brain. We then went into groups of four, discussing the ideas we had to whittle them down, which we realised we were pretty much all on the same lines, and then we went back to the group of us to recollect the ideas and collate them into a more coherent format.

Not only were there those of us in the in-person event, but there were many online too. Although we didn’t interact too much, besides cheering for the camera.

Some of the ideas I remember were:

  • Enhancing polices and legislation to ensure technology companies are held more accountable and have more responsibility; and
  • Better and easier access to information and legal aid.

There were others, but with all the information floating around (the havoc of the chunks too), it was hard to keep up with it all. But there will be a Post Event in a few weeks, so I can likely post a Part 3 update. Instead, I will explain my own experiences and reflections.

From my point of view, this topic, or at least online safety, has been instilled into me from an early age. Back in the 90s and the early 2000s when internet was becoming more common in the household, an old school friend and I would spend our free time on the internet. Back then, after the horrific sound of the dial-up modem whirred, we would view just a collection of ‘web pages’. No fancy Java Script or back-end databases. I remember one ‘web page’ my friend found, labelled as a ‘sanity test’, it just had a picture of a Formula 1 car and the sound of what we all now know as the Crazy Frog sound. The idea behind it was, if you laughed, you were deemed ‘insane’ (or words to that effect – turns out the internet says I’m not insane, go me!).

Security and safety on the internet wasn’t as big then as it is now, I remember seeing viruses, but they were merely pesky things that would either pop up on your screen or make your computer run slow; they were merely a nuisance. Of course, the applications of which would probably be more devastating to an organisation that may be utilizing computing technology and was internet facing, but to a pre-teen it wasn’t. Plus, there were some viruses around prior to this that were a little more destructive, but they were unlikely as proliferant as they are now.

However, my dad was a little more clued up when it came to computer technology (yes, this is where I got my technology ‘bug’ from – see what I did there?) and he would constantly remind me to be safe on the internet. I know why, because I was subjected to things that were a little more of a worry compared to a crazy F1 car. I remember seeing videos and pictures of things that no pre-teen should see, stuff that would exist in the deepest of dark web. As I grew up, and went to secondary school, the tone of things I was subjected to also changed, when I first learnt about certain ‘fetishes’, shall we say.

Back to present day, with more and more people getting access to the internet, the worse the videos, pictures, and general abuse in any form came with it (including the abuse of ‘crazy’ tests, which have evolved into ‘what kind of potato are you?’ side note; who else knew there were purple potatoes?). Even before joining the UN Women this year for CSW67, I was already aware of the cyber-bullying, public shaming, intimidation, cyber-stalking, some of which can start online and result offline, some of which I have been subjected to. Then there’s the access to more impossible beauty standards, of which are actually encouraged by algorithms. There was even a piece of ‘research’ conducted by Facebook/Instagram that found there was a link between declining mental health in teenagers (mostly teen girls) and the use of Instagram.

Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram said he has been working hard to get the team to ’embrace [their] responsibilities more broadly’… that piece of research was published in September 2021. I haven’t seen any marked improvement, but please let me know if I’m wrong. Maybe Shar.on485283 who keeps trying and failing to DM me has the answers? Sorry, the chunk with the green paint ran out of smores on the campfire, it was subdued by Glenda – the slightly rounded and weathered chunk you have been introduced to previously as “Gender Pay Gap” – their attention is now back on the hole in the ground to listen to the rest of the story.

Now, a lot of people are slowly getting clued onto these issues (at least in the western world). But what about other general gender bias that exists in technology and online?

One of my biggest pet hates (I say that lightly) is that I KNOW that there are laws around the storage, collection, processing and use of my data online because of the field of work that I am in, but yet organisations, usually the bigger ones (*cough*Facebook*cough*) have data breaches, or GDPR breaches at least, get hit with a large fine and get away with it to do it all over again the next year (you can see some here: https://www.enforcementtracker.com/ ). I know there are some big changes happening in light of TikTok recently, but how much of that is because they’re in the lime-light currently? Organisations are looking at what’s going on and following suit… I can imagine a fat, white, cis-man, eating into another ‘award winning’ steak pie and chips, flicking through his 1001 TV channels, while one of his minions who is ironically wearing a yellow t-shirt and blue overalls because it’s a new ‘hip’ place to work with bowls of fruit on EVERY table, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, who says: “hey, you seen this ban on TikTok? Maybe we should find another income-stream? At least until it blows over? I hear Facebook has rebranded?” (I know the issue lies deeper than that, but it highlights the issue that companies are getting away with GDPR breaches all the time, some are being found out, others aren’t).

I know to not give my personal detail over to people/organisations, regardless of the organisation. I have refused to give my address to recruiters unless an actual contract is being drafted up. I have refused to give websites my mobile number unless it is absolutely necessary (this is why I haven’t got on the ChatGPT band-wagon), I don’t order online unless it’s from a reputable company and is over Secure Socket Layer (https:// – I get my browser warning me if I’m connecting to a site that isn’t), I know to click on “reject all cookies” or “manage cookies”. That’s because I understand more than most.

But who is responsible? The person giving their data out? The organisation who isn’t implementing information security properly? The organisation who deliberately makes it difficult to opt out? Or is it at the government level for making the regulations too relaxed for the organisation to continuously break data regulations?

Another issue is what is done with that data. The processing. Not so much how it is protected in transit or storage, but how your data is being used? There are supposed laws around

One speaker on an event during the main part of the CSW67 was Bill Jeffery. The title of the event was ‘Women’s Health and Well-Being: Integrating Information and Communication Technologies, Universal Health Coverage, NCDs, and Policy’, this was on the 9th of March. He is the Executive Director for the Centre for Health Science and Law in Canada. He did a study on ‘infodemic’ companies and the recklessness of poor information that can be damaging to lives of women. The title of his PowerPoint presentation was “Curating information for self-care: When governments don’t enforce laws to inoculate against and infodemic, companies sometimes are reckless and self-service in claims”. He pointed out that women are more of a target to misinformation than men, such as misinformation around breast-milk substitutes, food and medicines, products and services related to women’s issues (cosmetic surgery, feminine hygiene) and so on. There are a lot of targeted advertisements preying on women, vulnerable or in vulnerable situations, with misleading statements, and sometimes promoting damaging products. He explained that there were even a few laws broken, but they only act on consumer complaints, there’s no enforcement. Of course, this is typically related to Canada, but opens a can of worms, as I’m sure I have seen a lot of this on Instagram and TikTok with ‘influencers’ giving out bad and sometimes damaging advice.

Overall, having policies, legislations, even to an extent having companies fined, is all well and good, but, in my opinion, it’s not good enough. We need to be doing more. There needs to be a review to make organisations more accountable, having easy and free access to information to know your rights, and easy and affordable (if not free) access to legal aid.

Now, to wrap up in reflection of the in-person event, and the whole of CSW67 in general, I now know the point of my involvement. Yes, I did have an involvement in discussing ways to improve the digital gender divide and issues surrounding women in technology, at least within the concepts of online data and online lives, but the majority of it was just listening to the current research, listening to those who are currently making efforts to bridge gaps, and build an enthusiasm to do more. The in-person discussion lasted just over an hour. That 1+ hour wasn’t enough to come up with solutions to an on-going complex topic. That isn’t necessarily a criticism of UN Women in general, that’s an observation, which is why it’s important to instill enthusiasm of more people (men, women, non-binary) to be doing more. It’s not a UN Women’s problem to solve. It’s a world-wide problem to solve. We’re all in this and we all need to be doing more.

I’m now off to rest my brain and find a way to contain this chunk with the green paint (she’s now gone off to rally some troops to start a rebellion…)

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#CrackingTheCode – Serving or Surveilling Women – Part 1

I’ve been putting off writing my final remarks on being a Delegate for UN Women, that’s because there are a few things left for me to do.

Firstly, I have to complete a ‘Contribution Form’, which is something I will be doing this weekend – I have to review my notes, re-watch recordings and actually formulate what I am going to write – I’m not entirely sure what it entails yet as you complete each section independently, completing one to move onto the next. Which I will admit, doesn’t help my Neurodiverse brain as it’s difficult to plan without seeing the sections!

Secondly, I was approached by a fellow UN Women’s Delegate online to take part in writing an article for the British Computer Society’s (BCS) IT NOW publication, as I am a Professional Member of BCS – I also was asked to take part in something else, but that’s not UN Women related and a topic of conversation for another post.

But, thirdly, and the focus that I am going to spend energy on instead, is the in-person event, which this morning was when I found out my application to attend had been accepted!

Considering there were 2500 delegates, 1000 of them applied to the in-person event but only 650 spaces to take part (this includes in-person and virtually, so I believe there’s even less spaces to get an in-person space in London!), I’m really glad I was able to make the cut – I’m off to London!

As I have mentioned in my blog post ‘UN Womens’ Delegate – Week 1′ (see more links at the bottom of this post), the main priority theme is:

“Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”

This event in London is about ‘taking action for gender equality in digital spaces, innovation, education and technology’. One Goal: Build solutions to bridge the digital gender divide. The information pack that I received gave the following stats:

  • 89% of tech CEOs are men;
  • nearly 200 million women worldwide don’t own mobile phones, and boys are 1.8 times more likely to own a smartphone than girls;
  • almost 40% of women worldwide have experienced online violence, and 80% have witnessed it;
  • only 0.5% of girls want to become tech professionals;
  • excluding women from the digital world has lost $1 trillion from global GDP over the past decade – and the digital gender gap is increasing. The economic impact will rise to $1.5 trillion lost by 2025 without action now.

The event has five focus areas. Of which, I had to pick only one to contribute to. These five focus areas are:

1. Plugging into the grid

How putting technology in the hands of the world’s most marginalised women can give them connectivity into society that enables them to survive and thrive. Providing access to technology for older women, disabled women, and the world’s poorest.

2. Innovators of the future

From the toys children are given to the videogames they play, young people’s lives are shaped through digital tools from their earliest years, including their engagement with STEM. A look at the dark side of stereotyping, and the way sin which technology can be designed to create a more equal future for the next generations

3. Who learns from who?

With the rise of AI and smart tech, we are teaching algorithms based on human databases that are full of biases. How can we ensure that the decision-markers, the designers, and the data they draw from are representative to avoid magnifying existing problems?

4. Under attack in virtual worlds

We are going to spend increasing amount of time immersing ourselves in virtual spaces. Yet digital spaces are unsafe for women in may ways – not only replicating violence offline, but creating new opportunities for abuse from cyberflashing to deep fake pornography. From social media to the metaverse, we’ll be looking at how we can build safe, inclusive spaces before it’s too late

5. Serving women or surveilling women?

As we store more and more of our lives online, and institutions are able to access our data to serve us with increasingly personalised and relevant offers, how do we protect privacy for those who are most vulnerable to exploitation – both by the private second, and by the state?

If you haven’t already guessed by now, by the title of this post, I have picked the last one; Serving women or surveilling women. Although, I will admit all of them are interesting, especially the 4th one; Under attack in virtual worlds, as I have been a victim of online abuse, and the 3rd Who learns from who? is extremely interesting to me but is a new-found interest, so I felt I wouldn’t have been able to contribute much to the conversation.

Check back soon for Part 2!

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UN Women’s Delegate – Week 1

It’s Sunday.

In certain calendars this signals the end of the week.

But more importantly, it’s the end of Week 1 on CSW67 (67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women).

As you may know, I was selected to be a Delegate for CSW67. It’s my first time being a delegate and after week 1, what a ride it has been so far.

For those of you who don’t know what CSW is, here’s a video I found created by UN Women (please do give the video a like!):


I’ll quickly give a very brief overview of the United Nations, the SDGs and UN Women. I could go on and on about it, but it will distract from the point of this post.

The United Nations was originally founded in 1945 after World War II, originally the intention was to enable countries to cooperate on specific matters; mostly about resolving major world problems.

The first ‘UN Women’ Commission dates back to 1947; 15 women from different countries met to begin building international legal foundations for gender equality.

In the following decades, several UN offices were dedicated to various aspects of women’s rights. In 2011, these were merged to form UN Women, or the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

In 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
1. No Poverty
2. Zero Hunger
3. Good Health and Well-Being
4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
6. Clean Water and Sanitation
7. Affordable and Clean Energy
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
12. Responsible Consumption and Production
13. Climate Action
14. Life Below Water
15. Life on Land
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Today, in 2023, the UN Women’s Commission is deepening and expanding the global framework for gender equality.

Facts and Figures

As you have seen, achieving gender equality is one of the 17 SDGs, these SDGs should be in effect by 2030. However, a study revealed that it could take close to 300 years at the current rate of progress to achieve this.

In fact, the study found it may even be worsening due to global crises and backlash against women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.

CSW67 – The biggest yet

In my training before the week even began, not only did this figure stick out, but another figure also stuck out to me…

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of delegates was limited heavily to the number that could fill the hall in New York. Due to Covid, it was necessary to evolve, meaning delegates had to become more remote. As well as this evolution, they opened this the max number of delegates allowed and this number became almost unlimited.

UN Women took this literally, and opened delegation to everyone. Last year, they apparently had about 1000 people become delegates.

This year the number is 2500.

That’s 2500 people (men, women and others) who are taking part in talks that will shape policies the UN Member States will sign and adopt to bring gender equality. Globally.

The more people we have as delegates, the more chance we have of making change!

Structure of CSW67

Before I explain my thoughts and current takeaways from my experience so far, I want to briefly explain how this year is structured.

Firstly, there is an online platform which is open to all UN Women Delegates and other UN Women Volunteers who are making this happen. There are sections specifically on certain topics (called Superthreads) as well as a section on the CSW67 Events.

There are three types of Events:
1. Official UN Women Meetings – these are official negotiations and agreements are made around the central theme.
2. Side Events – Permanent Missions, intergovernmental organizations and United Nations entities hold side events on UN premises.
3. Parallel Events – Organized by NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), this enables civil society to be part of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

There are recommended events to join, but lots of other events throughout the two weeks, but they are all optional. It’s open to you how many you attend. In a lot of events, you have an opportunity to add to the discussion, whether on camera or through the chat or Q&A boxes, or you are welcome to use the platform to participate in discussions instead. It’s also recommended to go away with links, new connections and generally feeling empowered to make change. And at the end of CSW there will be a contribution form to fill for feedback to build on learnings for the next CSW event.

CSW67 Themes

The main priority theme is: “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”

The review theme is: “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.”

The review theme is agreeing to conclusions from the 62nd session.

Week 1 Summary

Of course, this is a summary from my perspective, so please bare in mind that other people may have completely different experiences and thus perspectives.

Throughout the whole experience so far, it is an overwhelming information dump. Let’s just say that I’m glad there are less events on at the weekend and I have time to recover! There’s a lot going on, with UN Women’s Official events, Side Events, Parallel Events, discussions on topics on the community forum, connections on LinkedIn, messages, posts, links, new opportunities, and more!

The main thing I wanted to talk about, is not only highlighting the facts and figures above; the fact we are 300 years away from global gender equality at the current rate we are working, but there is so many research areas uncovering issues that need fixing.

Here’s what I have seen so far:
* There is a gender gap on the use of technology, this is more prevalent on rural areas
* Women/Girls access technology at a later age than boys/men
* Girls appear to loose interest younger, this appears to be from stereotypes or lack of support
* There still is gender bias in tech careers/jobs, especially in leadership roles
* There is still a gender pay gap in the tech industry
* There are barriers with accessing education, especially in rural areas and low-income areas
* There are barriers with accessing funding and support for start ups, men appear to have more access than women
* There are potential gender biases in AI, machine learning and algorithms (e.g. TikTok)
* There are gender bias within targeted ads, which leads to issues of harmful rhetoric for women
* There needs to be more online safety and general social conversations in making it safer for women and girls
* There is gender bias in the entertainment industry, from funding, pay, access to exhibition space and much more.

This is just week 1. Imagine what week 2 will also bring!


My current take-aways from week 1 is that I have a LOT to think about. If anything, I have taken away even more enthusiasm to push for gender equality in my own life. Whether that is pushing for gender equality at work, in general conversation, challenging behaviour and encouraging other women to join in on the discussions and fight, but hopefully the enthusiasm to bring into my publishing business that I am still keen to set up.

I am also encouraged to join in on future discussions within UN Women and CSW, expand discussions online outside of CSW, and it has encouraged me to look into other discussions, such as climate change, world hunger and more. Helping us achieve the other 17 SDGs.

I also, have a new found interest in gender bias in AI, machine learning and algorithms. More so algorithms, as this is certainly something I have been fighting with on my social media platforms already. Who knows, maybe a PhD is in the making…

Please check out my other posts:

For those of you who like links:

History of United Nations:


History of UN Women:


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):


International Women’s Day – UN Women – CSW67

Today is International Women’s Day 2023 and I couldn’t go without saying at least something. Unfortunately, as it’s mid-week – and what a week it has been so far – and past 19:00 in the evening, I will have to leave this shorter than I hoped.

Recently, I wrote a post about being accepted as a UN Women’s Delegate for the UK (links at the bottom of this post) Well, that time has come!

Not only is today International Women’s Day, but today is Day 3 on being a UN Women’s Delegate.

I will be keeping notes on my experience (as long as my laptop doesn’t die and I loose my notes, which has already happened to me today! The irony of working in tech too!), and I will write another longer post either at the weekend or at the end of the two weeks, but for now I just want to say how amazing this experience is so far.

One thing that I have already said online, and will repeat here too, is this:

This International Women’s Day is talking about ’embracing’ equity, with powerful pictures of women hugging themselves.

I am not.
I am not hugging myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I am ’embracing’ equity/equality too, but the idea of hugging myself doesn’t sit well with me.

I don’t need to hug myself.
I don’t need to internalize my struggles as a female/woman.
I need others to see my struggles, allow me to speak up, to listen, but more importantly to help bring change to gender inequality. Globally.

Not just for me, but for my sisters too.

I need change.
We need change.

This also should include:
* Black women and women of colour
* Neurodivergent women
* Gay/Lesbian/Bi+ women
* Trans women
* Non-binary and female-presenting people
* Women in conflict areas
* Every woman who is currently under-represented and is being affected in some way from gender discrimination and inequality.
Because they are women/females too!

This is why I am trying to make the most of my time as a UN Women’s Delegate. Not just sitting quietly and making notes. No, I am speaking out.

Like I said in my previous post; I have finally found my voice.

And I’m certainly going to make as much noise as possible!

My previous post about signing up to become a UN Women Delegate here: https://thegirlwhowhispered.com/2023/02/03/my-next-big-step/

Please note, I do not own the images in this post. The image on the banner is an official UN Women’s image, the “We need an equal digital future for all” is as well, and the CSW template with yours truly’s mug shot was created by a fellow UN Women’s Delegate Khadeejah Badru, edited to include my face instead. 🙂

Please feel free to follow me on my socials:

My Next Big Step

Approximately 30 years ago, when I was a little girl, I lost my voice.

I was bullied, ridiculed, left out and generally socially awkward. This resulted in me developing what I now come to know as Selective Mutism.

For most of my life I have in some way been silenced. Whether this is due to my own issues and feeling so alien in the world, that I developed anxiety at 4/5 years old. Whether this was because being female I have had people look down upon me as the inferior sex. Whether this was because being young and inexperienced, people believed I didn’t have anything useful to add to the table. Whether this is a direct result of being misunderstood from actually being autistic, which had never been picked up.

I’m now learning that I am not alien in this world, there are others like me.

I now know being female isn’t the inferior sex, I am just as equal to men.

I might be young and potentially inexperienced, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t got something valuable to say.

I know that the misunderstanding is the lack of awareness in the general population for autism, especially in females.

Now in my 30s, I am unlearning all the negativity I associated with myself, the bad habits and finally coming out of my shell.

I am also speaking up against the inequality and misunderstandings.

One of the reasons why I became an author was because I wanted to get my voice finally heard. I wanted to use the medium of written word, in stories, to get certain topics out there. Including my own story.

But just writing stories is just the stepping stone onto bigger things.

The next stepping stone…

Is becoming a UN Women’s Delegate for the UK!

I’m extremely humbled to be a part of the delegation. To be a part of something as important as gender equality. But I’m also extremely nervous.

But I’m going to continue practicing speaking up, like I have been slowly building up on, and push through these nerves.

I have finally found my voice.

And I’m certainly going to make as much noise as possible!

If you’d like to learn more about my story please see the blog post ‘Why “The Girl Who Whispered?“‘

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 7

Note: If you’re new to the story please read from the beginning here.

Chapter 7

Officer Jennifer Finley

The young female agent slid through a dark internal door as quiet as a mouse, keeping every one of her senses alert for sounds, sights, smells, strange touches on her body, or maybe even changes in temperature. She stepped silently and slowly through the Sanatorium, but her mind was running one-hundred miles an hour going through the training sessions; move slow, check corners, especially dark ones, don’t trust anyone or anything. She held her P90 out before her, her grip tight on it, her focus through the infrared scope, the torch illuminating the way, and felt that little bit safer knowing that it had been modified specifically for these sorts of situations.

But she still felt defenceless, even with her specially modified gear and her extensive training. She had been told about the horrors of the enemy she faced; some were able to inhabit your body, take control of it, some were large, strong and ruthless. But there were those who were just so clever, stronger, quicker, able to take most living shapes, able to control fire, make things move with just their minds, knock people unconscious with just a flick of their hands, that Finley doubted her average intelligence and physical fitness along with all her modified equipment was enough to beat them.

She slowly kept her breathing under control in an attempt to steady her heartbeat as she looked around a corner. The only way she was able to keep herself from panicking was to continue with her job, to keep moving. She just hoped no one, or nothing, could hear the panic swelling in her chest. Part of her training was to regulate her heartbeat, to keep it steady; her instructor told her that the panic was a reaction from high levels of cortisol running through her body; the fight or flight syndrome, and it affected concentration, but she always had trouble keeping it down.

Ahead of her, she noticed a wall had fallen, opening up the next room. Slowly she moved, carefully avoiding the rubble on the floor as she did, to investigate the next room.

As she made her way towards the opening, however, she heard a noise. Her skin prickled at the sound; something was shuffling. She stopped dead in her tracks and listened out. Her heartbeat thumped in her ears, and she felt a roll of sweat run down her face. She doubted it had anything to do with the amount of gear she had on, keeping her safe but unavoidably warm. The sound continued as if what ever was making it didn’t know she was there. The shuffling was also complimented with what sounded like heavy breathing and rubble being moved. Suddenly her body felt heavy with fear.

She put her eye through the scope, not picking up any heat signatures yet—not that she could pick up anything through the thick walls of the Sanatorium. She didn’t have a visual. It could be anything. It could be the wind. She willed herself to continue towards the gap in the wall.

But as she moved again, the shuffling sound stopped. She stopped herself. She pursed her lips together to stop her from breathing heavily, not even noticing the grip on her gun had tightened, her knuckles going white. The sound started again only a few seconds later, as if what ever was making it had stopped to listen out but hadn’t noticed her. She moved her hand slowly up to the gun and turn off the torch accessory, then up to her smock and turned off those lights, her sole visual was now through the infrared scope—although she still saw various shades of blue, no oranges or reds to indicate a living being.

She continued to move slowly towards the break in the wall, keeping tight to the remainder of the wall that was still left standing, using it as a guide with the use of her elbow and being careful not to accidentally knock something on the floor, either resulting in her making a noise or tripping over. She shuffled her body towards the hole and stopped for a few seconds to listen out.

There certainly was something just there, only a few feet away. All she had to do was to take one large step to her right and she could swing herself round to see her enemy. Within a split second before changing her mind, she committed to her manoeuvre. She stepped and span her whole body round and saw the classic oranges and reds in her scope.

Something barked and the orange and red blob ran off. She turned on the light attachment on her gun just in time to catch sight of a red bushy tail flapping as it ran out of the door.

Finley sighed, relaxed slightly and let out a small laugh. It was just a fox. Although she was told to be vigilant of all living things, she was sure if it was anything but sinister, it would have just attacked her, and it didn’t.

Rubbing her face with a hand and letting her gun drop a little from her grip, she steadied her breathing to slow her heart and relaxed her tight muscles. She snorted suddenly in amusement at the situation, the fact she got so wound up over a fox.

She turned around to go back out of the room she had just recently deemed now clear, but she turned around to face a grotesque and inhuman face mere millimetres away from her face. She screamed and automatically stepped backwards, her heel hit a loose brick and she fell backwards, smashing her head—which was luckily protected in her helmet—on the debris of broken wall.


Next chapter coming soon!

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