Name: Kat Banyard
What she does: Author of The Equality Illusion and Founder of UK Feminista
Impact: Raised the profile of feminism in the UK and been a role model for young women in the UK
Nominated by: Servene Mouazan, CEO of Ogunte
“A thousand papercuts” is how Kat Banyard describes the regular references to feminist stereotypes in British culture. “It is so ingrained that it is hard to stop them pouring out of peoples’ mouths, but the way to tackle it is not to be silent.” Banyard, who became an activist after experiencing sexism at university, has been dubbed the “UK’s most influential young feminist”.
After writing her polemic, The Equality Illusion, she founded UK Feminista last year, an organisation that supports local women’s groups across the country. “In the last five years, there has been a burgeoning of grassroots feminism,” says Kat, who lives in Hackney. “The young have been sold the lie that equality has been achieved, but they aren’t standing for that any more. If you take a look at society, the notion that we have achieved equality is farcical – take parliament – and there are growing challenges too for women, such as the sex industry. Feminism’s resurgence is a response to this: women are marching again.”
Kat was previously Campaigns Officer at the Fawcett Society – the UK’s leading campaign for women’s rights. In 2007 she was profiled in Observer Woman magazine as one of ‘The New Feminists’. Prior to her work at Fawcett, Kat worked for the Northern Refugee Centre in Sheffield setting up women’s groups. She is also the founder of FEM Conferences – an acclaimed series of national feminist conferences. In 2010 she was named ‘the most influential young feminist in the country’, and shortlisted for a Liberty Human Rights Award. Kat featured in Glamour Magazine’s ‘The Glamour Power List 2011’.