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What International Women's Day means to me

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What International Womens Day means to me
Jessica Thurston, Head of Medico-legal Operations

Head of Medico-legal Operations, Jessica Thurston shares her view on International Women's Day and what it means to her


What does International Women's Day mean to you?

I have mixed feelings about International Women’s Day. On the one hand I believe it to be incredibly positive that we are giving global recognition to women’s achievements whether they be in business, politics, medicine, history or the arts and culture. On the other hand, International Women’s Day exists of course to further gender equality as a basic human right, and it saddens me that we are still feel the need to stand up for the rights of women and girls everywhere! But we do, and in 2022 the UK ranked 22nd on the global gender gap index, placing it behind other European Countries. As an occupational therapist, I have a particular interest in the gender health gap, and there is so much further work to be done to improve the quality and accessibility of information and education on women’s health. This work desperately needs to redress the imbalance whereby women spend a greater proportion of their lives suffering from ill health, being mistreated, misdiagnosed, having poorer outcomes in respect of mental health and inequalities in life expectancy. The work here is therefore far from done!


Do you have any advice for women who are beginning their career in our industry?

  • Know your strengths and be prepared to work hard on your weaknesses.
  • Ensure you are visible to others, by being helpful and informative.
  • Treat others respectfully and expect the same of others towards you.
  • Trust yourself and instil in others, a sense that they can trust you.
  • Form allies with other women in a similar position to you so that you can support each other.
  • Stay interested in what you do, remain curious and be prepared to make changes.

Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?

I believe diversity creates a culture of respect and belonging, and as such it creates a positive and more creative working environment. Having many different perspectives in the workplace ensures that everyone feels they have a voice, can contribute ideas, and are ultimately valued. Everyone feels they have a part to play, which can only increase enjoyment, job satisfaction and productivity.

If you could have dinner with an inspirational woman, dead or alive, who would you choose and why?

I would love to have dinner with Joanna Lumley, I’ve always admired her. I think she sums up life when she says: “You only have one go at life, which is thrilling. Only you can make yourself into who you want to be. Don’t blame anybody else. You are entitled to free fresh air, and that’s it. Do the rest yourself”. She’s led the most interesting life, from her modelling career, through to her acting career and roles as a TV presenter. She has done some tremendous work as a human and animal rights activist and she was relentless in the Ghurkha justice campaign, successfully reversing decades of discrimination against those who fought for the British army yet were denied the right to retire in the UK. She is incredibly well travelled and I have loved following her adventures in Rwanda, on the Silk Road, Siberia, India and Japan and of course more recently in the UK. I also think Joanna would have so many stories to tell, and she is hilarious, but yet she always strikes me as someone who is very humble, kind and genuinely interested in the stories of others. She really is a national treasure.