Posted on 28-Feb-2020
By Elizabeth Wigley

International Women's Day: Debenhams diaries

Real women, real stories

This International Women's Day, we've brought together an inspirational group of women who work at Debenhams to speak about what being a woman means to them.

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Selected from our senior leadership team, Abi, our Marketing Director, and Jess, our Digital & International Director, understand the importance of paving the way for future generations of women in the workplace. Joining them are Merrilie, Senior Marketing Manager, and Andrea, Expert Lingerie Fitter from the Manchester Debenhams store, who share their stories and experience of what being a woman means today.

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What makes you proud to be a woman?

Merrilie: I come from a family of incredibly strong women with completely varied backgrounds in terms of what they've been through in life. It's seeing them develop into mothers, being caregivers, their loyalty and their trust in one other.

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Abi: The fierce friendships that I have with my girls. The first thing I did when I got here today was send a selfie to my girls' group. I know they're all rooting for me every day and that's something women do really well.

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"Enjoy the journey as well focusing on getting to the next destination - Jess "

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Which women have inspired you throughout your life?

Andrea: Like an Oscar award, I've got to thank my mother. Ultimately, she has given me my work ethic - she told us that to get what you want and need in life, you've got to work for it.

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Merrilie: The two most inspirational women in my life have been my mum and my nan. My nan is incredible - she's 91 years old and is still completely independent. She's always stood by her principles and beliefs and really doesn't bend for anyone. She's pretty much the strongest person I know.

What are important things to teach future generations of women?

Andrea: Have respect, not only for yourself but also for other women, no matter where they come from or who they are.

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Jess: That anything is possible. Make sure you're doing something you're passionate about, be prepared to work hard and really know your stuff.

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How do you think the position of women in senior roles will change in the future?

Jess: Well I think there's going to be a lot more of us! The change in focus on the work/life balance and mental health is going to make the working environment much more supportive for women to flourish in senior roles.

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"Have the confidence to go for what you really believe in and stay true to your values - Abi "

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What advice would you give to your younger self?

Jess: To enjoy the journey as well focusing on getting to the next destination.

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Abi: Have the confidence to go for what you really believe in and stay true to your values. Looking back, being my authentic self was the most important thing.

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Merrilie: To take chances and if you think you can't do something, then just go for it anyway. The reality is that you are capable of doing so much more than you think you can.