Davina McCall – TV personality and women’s health advocate – today encouraged young women to “stand up and make noise” at the inaugural Women and Wellness conference hosted by Benenden School.
Davina opened the conference, which saw a range of speakers discuss topics such as the menopause, pensions, investing, nutrition and digital safety, with a keynote speech and Q&A session. Her speech touched on her experience with the menopause and HRT, and what it means to be a woman.
She said: “I wouldn’t change being a woman for anything: we have heavy periods and the menopause and all sorts of other things, but all these things make us the most resilient people ever. It also means when you get to my age you have a deep empathy for all women. We are in a club. It’s very special being a woman, this is what makes us so breathtakingly amazing. There are so many crosses to bear but also so many benefits.”
Around 200 students and members of the local community were in attendance to learn more about the issues that matter to women in the 21st Century, with Davina encouraging the engaged audience of students to go after what they want, saying: “I cannot encourage you more to hustle. If you think you don’t have a voice, get someone’s email address and make a noise. You have to keep walking: things happen if you walk. If you sit down and wait for someone to come to you it’s not going to happen.”
Davina also discussed her experience with the menopause and the effect HRT has had on her life. She continued: “When the menopause hit, I lost my enthusiasm. I felt like I’d lost myself. HRT saved my career, my family life, my life.
“It’s not OK to have continual problems with accessing your type of HRT, it has profound effects on women.”
Davina urged all women not to settle for mistreatment from doctors, and not to be afraid to seek out a second opinion, saying “you’ve got to keep going to get the help you need”.
This was the first Women and Wellness Conference held at Benenden School, which is renowned as one of the UK’s leading independent schools. The conference was designed to inform and empower young women to influence real change for generations to come. It comes hot on the heels of the School’s recent global conference entitled Inspiring Future Female Leaders, which saw inspirational alumnae – including HRH The Princess Royal and HRH Princess Basma bint Talal of Jordan – energise students from more than 120 schools across the globe.
These pioneering flagship events form part of Benenden School’s Centenary celebrations, as the school marks 100 years of providing young women with A Complete Education.
Samantha Price, Headmistress at Benenden School, said: “It is hugely important to educate women at all stages of life about the issues that are relevant to them, something that Benenden has been doing proudly for 100 years.
“Having authentic and meaningful conversations around topics such as the menopause, which has historically been regarded as something not to be discussed openly, will pave the way for confident and informed young women to make real change in the world, for the women of today and tomorrow.
“My hope is that all those in attendance today left Benenden feeling informed, inspired and empowered – and most importantly ready to carry on those vital conversations within their own communities.”
Other speakers included Anna Lane, President of the Social Enterprise, who shed light on pension disparities, challenged outdated beliefs and busted myths around women and investing. Renee McGregor, leading sports dietician, explored women’s nutrition throughout life and Charlotte and Emma Roberts, Founders of Digital Awareness UK, discussed women’s digital lives and the importance of staying safe and well online. Claudia Collins, current Benenden student and advocate for young people’s digital health, shared her journey to activism and the importance of teenagers using their voice on the issues that matter to them and Nicky Bright, leadership development specialist, presented on the importance of opening up conversations around the menopause, a topic that has historically been overlooked.