Home 5 Good Business By Doing Good 5 Celebrating International Women’s Day: At 10 Downing Street!
Madeleine and The Girls' Network Ambassadors outside 10 Downing Street

Celebrating International Women’s Day: At 10 Downing Street!

by Madeleine Stonehouse

21 March 2024

Akshata Murty hosted an event as part of her Lessons at 10 programme. The Girls' Network, a charity I represent, was invited. We enjoyed networking, heard Ms. Murty’s vision, and engaged with inspiring women before being taken on a tour of one of the most iconic buildings in the UK... Number 10!

In celebration of International Women’s Day, I had the honour of being invited to an event at 10 Downing Street.

The event was held by Akshata Murty as part of her ‘Lessons at 10’ programme. Ms Murty invited the charity I am an ambassador for, The Girls’ Network, to come to the event, and what a fantastic day it was!


Welcome to Downing Street

After I was nominated to knock on the door of Number 10 and being introduced to some of the staff, we were taken up to one of the state rooms. There was a beautiful spread of food, and the tea was flowing. We had the opportunity to do a little bit of networking with some of the amazing women and other girls attending the event.

Ms Murty gave an introductory speech, sharing her her vision for ‘Lessons at 10’. She also expressed why celebrating International Women’s Day mattered so much to her.

There was then a small speech from the director of our charity before a small icebreaker session to help us feel more at ease before going on to the real networking.


Speed Networking

We were then led to the state dining room (you’ll know it as the Covid briefing room). Each member of The Girls’ Network took their seats ready for the speed networking event.

We had five minutes to talk to each of the amazing women who were at the event. The timer was set, and we had to fit as much conversation into those few minutes as we possibly could (which is quite challenging!)

Some of the women I spoke to and had a particular impact on me were:

  • Akshata Murty: who was so engaging and shared personal stories of women in her life who have inspired her. She also spoke of pressures she feels being in the position she is in.
  • Alison Cork: she founded her own interior home interiors business that has since gone global! I also spoke with her for a long time about the media industry of which she has vast experience in.
  • Yewande Akinola: who shared stories of the stereotypes and misconceptions she has faced being a woman who is also a chartered engineer.

One thing that all of the women I spoke to had in common, was their struggle with impostor syndrome. They spoke of how they often felt that they were not good enough to be in the positions they were in. This was something I was shocked by, given how successful they all are! However, it was something that was incredibly reassuring for me to hear.


Lunch and More Networking

After our intense, but fun, speed recruitment session, we were taken back to one of the Downing Street state rooms for some lunch and more networking.

It was during lunch I spoke a lot with Steph Giordano, Founder & Creative designer of Baked by Steph. She shared with me some of the marketing-related challenges she has faced in the past. She spoke of how often people in business have doubted her creative vision. Not only that, but she also shared how difficult it can be to prove that marketing ideas work when there often times aren’t statistics to show it.

I also spoke at length to Sue Rimmer-Wilson OBE, chair of The Girls’ Network. After being involved with The Girls’ Network for almost 5 years, it was one of the first times I’d actually met Sue! She shared with me her journey and why fighting for gender equality mattered so much to her. It something that was so inspirational to hear.

Through out the day, I had the opportunity to share my journey with a variety of people. I explained how I’ve got to where I am today and some of the struggles I faced. Probably most importantly, I spoke of how The Girls’ Network helped me.


Inside Downing Street

On top of all of that, we had a tour of Downing Street. We saw the stairs Hugh Grant dances down in ‘Love Actually!’ Officially, they are the display stairs for Prime Minister portraits. We saw the cabinet room, and some of the other state rooms. On the tour, we stopped off in the room where the Prime Ministers meet with foreign diplomats. We even sat on the chairs and pretended to be the PM meeting a diplomat! During the tour, we were told little facts about each room, which was very interesting. The secrets are in the carvings…

Finally, to finish off the experience, we were given a handful of goodies before going outside to have our photoshoots in front of the Number 10 door.

All in all, it was an amazing day, and I am so grateful to The Girls’ Network for the opportunity and to Ecovis for being so supportive of the event as well. It truly was something amazing and a day I certainly won’t forget!

To find out more about The Girls’ Network and the work that we do, click the button below!


About the Girls’ Network

Madeleine Stonehouse

Marketing Assistant

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