Inside Glamour U.K.'s female empowerment mission

17 March 2022

"We set out to help men understand how sexism and misogyny make women feel. They don’t know what it’s like for us to feel unsafe walking at night, or to be paid less than our male counterparts for the same work."

Deborah Joseph, Glamour’s Deputy Global Editorial Director, is deeply passionate about fighting gender inequality. From bringing men into the conversation about sexism and misogyny, to educating children from a young age about the gender imbalances that exist in all areas of our societies, Joseph believes there is lots of work to be done but there are actions we can do today that will bring about meaningful progression.

Glamour U.K. is at the forefront of driving these important conversations. We spoke to Joseph about the brand’s International Women’s Day campaign, why misogyny is often internalized by women and the importance of male allyship.

Tell us about Glamour's “Allyship in the Face of Misogyny” campaign and how it came together.

Like all of our ideas, the inspiration for our International Women’s Day moving covers campaign came from our morning brainstorm. These are always filled with diverse opinions where the topic of feminism is never far from the conversation. When we sat down to discuss what we should do, male allyship was a common theme that we wanted to explore. We were thinking about where we, as women, find support in times of gender inequality and who we turn to when faced with everyday sexism or misogyny. We thought it could be interesting to ask high-profile feminists to nominate their chosen male ally, opening up a dialogue around the support women need and how men can better provide this. We wanted to bring men into the conversation and make them part of the solution, by showing them how they can be better allies to us. Because men are part of the solution

Tell us about the four feminists you invited to take part in this project – why were they chosen and what did you learn from them in the process?

We wanted this piece to platform a range of women across a variety of industries and backgrounds to showcase the universal nature of women’s experiences of misogyny. From influential political activists like Gina Martin and Charlie Craggs – who are committed to fighting gender inequality in their everyday working lives – to high profile women like Rochelle Humes and Leomie Anderson who, although don’t speak about sexism and misogyny for work, have still felt it as women. We wanted to show that the feminist issues we face daily are felt so widely in different contexts and are relatable to every woman.

Allyship is a powerful thing. Tell us about what it means to you and why it is so important to Glamour and its audiences.

I think what we set out to achieve with this is to help men understand how sexism and misogyny make women feel. They don’t know what it’s like for us to feel unsafe walking at night, or to be paid less than our male counterparts for the same work. Even the men we love, who want to support and protect us, can’t always understand what we go through — and that’s something that’s felt universally. So many of us struggle to communicate these fears and frustrations with our partners, friends, brothers or fathers because we don’t have the language - it’s often internalised.

We want to help women have the courage to find their voice and to share how they feel with the men in their lives, by creating this candid dialogue with our chosen feminists. So we could help women tell men what they need. And help men better understand what’s needed.

What would you say is the difference between sexism and misogyny?

Misogyny is often internalised and it’s the system of structural oppression and unconscious bias that comes from living in a patriarchal society. For example, medical misogyny comes from the fact that all research was originally based on men, which trickles down to women’s pain not being fully understood to the fact that airbags in cars were tested on men, resulting in more women dying in accidents. A society built by men for men, creates an environment where women aren’t treated equally.

Sexism is the way misogyny plays out in everyday life, from language and assumptions about and towards women that hold us back from equality.

We still have a long way to go in achieving gender equality. Where do you see Glamour’s role in helping us get there? And will we get there?

As a mother of two young girls and one boy, I know first hand how important it is to educate children equally from a very young age. Schools have a huge role to play in how all children are socialised, it’s going to take a couple of generations to get to where we need to be as we are fighting thousands of years of misogyny and an entirely systemic patriarchal structure. For example, economists predict it’s going to take over 100 years for the pay gap to close. At Glamour we are working hard to speed up this progress for women in an engaging way.

We have to be better at educating girls on dealing with feminist issues but this should be something that boys learn about too. Just in the same way that we should be teaching young women about managing and talking about money and showing them the opportunities available to them in traditionally male dominated industries like science and engineering.

What exciting projects does Glamour have coming up in the months ahead (that you can tell us about!)?

We are working all year round on activations that raise up women. We are also working on our “Beauty Weekender” event (stay tuned!). It’s always such a fun event, packed with self-care, hair, make-up and conversations around body image and empowerment. We also have some special guests at our content stages covering a range of topics on women’s empowerment.