In celebration of International Women’s Day 2021 on 8 March, we spoke with three women and men who have kindly agreed to share their stories to help raise awareness and celebrate International Women’s Day. This global day is an opportunity to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This is the first of three stories.
Emma Kemsley @emmakesmley is a freelance journalist, editor and PR specialising in travel and fertility. She shares her career highs and lows, and how her personal heartbreak has created new opportunities.
Where do I start? It feels like a long time since I took my first steps into a hectic newsroom. I was 15 years old; it was my first work experience at a national newspaper, and I remember being surrounded by stressed men. I wanted to learn how daily news was created but instead I was placed on the Page 3 picture desk. I spent my week sorting through images of girls with great figures and big boobs. It might not have been the fast-paced news desk I wanted but I did learn a valuable lesson; if you’re not happy with something in a workplace then speak up!
My journalism career has been quite varied. I’ve worked in both national and local newsrooms, magazines, contract publishing and copywriting. I am now freelance editor at Eastlife Magazine. It’s a wonderful lifestyle, travel and events title covering the East of England. I’m proud to say I am Eastlife’s first female editor during its almost 20-year shelf life.
When I first joined the team eight years ago, I was the only female employee. Today Eastlife is mostly created and driven by a team of hard-working women. In fact, the team are now extending beyond print and are gearing up to launch Eastlife Creative; a media agency designed to help small businesses excel in social media and the press. I’m looking forward to hosting our PR e-course, which helps businesses perfect their media strategy. It’s full of useful PR tips including how to find your story, how to write a press release and advice for pitching.
While I’ve worked hard in my career and been fortunate to travel the world doing what I love, I’ve also faced difficult personal challenges. I’ve suffered with severe endometriosis for over 14 years. This became particularly difficult during my stint as a copywriter at a travel company. My male bosses couldn’t understand why I needed time off work, and I received warnings about absence. Some days I would lay under my desk curled up in pain, occasionally vomiting into the bin. Thankfully, things are changing, and endometriosis is now recognised as a disability by employers.
Unfortunately, endometriosis has led to multiple surgeries, infertility, six failed IVFs and baby loss. Despite the heartbreak, I now use my personal experience to help and inspire other women in a similar situation. I frequently write about endo and fertility for a variety of platforms, including a light-hearted column about my journey at bestfertility-now.com. I also co-own a support consultancy with my husband which works with health care providers, IVF clinics and corporations to provide education and wellbeing programmes for fertility.
The best advice I can give for a career in the media, and life in general, is never give up. Nothing is impossible if you work hard enough. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t ask, then you don’t get. Be brave, speak up and take the opportunities, you deserve it!
Thank you to Emma for sharing your inspiring story for International Women’s Day 2021. If you would like to read more about how Clare, the founder of Botanical Forrest made a radical career change in her 40s, head over to this blog.