Women Make The Olympics

Photo: Rhiannon Bury

A new exhibition championing the work of women in the construction of the Olympic site was officially opened by Tessa Jowell MP last night at the Museum of London, Docklands.Photographer Janie Airey was commissioned by Jennette Arnold, Chair of the London Assembly, to take the images demonstrating the  diversity of the Olympics. The photos are also to be made into a limited edition charity calender, and proceeds from the sales will go to the Helen Bamber Foundation, a human rights charity.

Speaking exclusively to East London Lines, Jennette said: “We’re telling the story of these women here: women can do anything they want, it’s the constraints that get in the way and we are strong enough to remove them.

“Now we have hundreds of women trained in construction and these women will go on to have jobs in major construction firms when the Olympics is over. Women across the world are facing cruelty, not just social constraints, and so it’s important that we raise a lot of money doing this.”

Lorraine Martins, Head of Diversity for construction on the site and subject of one of the photographs said: “It’s been one of the most humbling experiences of my life. We invited Jennette to see the site but never imagined it would turn into this. It’s been one of the wonderful unintended consequences of the 2012 games being in London.”

Three local schoolgirls were also invited to the launch, and said they were inspired by the women in the pictures doing what could be considered men’s jobs. Farida Ahmed, 16, said: “I’m doing my GCSEs now and making some important choices so to see this exhibition makes me think anything is possible. I feel that there are women out there supporting us, and that culture isn’t a barrier.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Jasmine Martins, 14, who said: “It just shows that although there’s a hierarchy in some jobs, women can do as much as men and are valued.”

Helen Bamber, founder of the Helen Bamber Foundation, was also at the event and paid tribute to the women who continue to push the boundaries in a male-dominated field.

‘Women making the London Olympics’ is on until 2 May. For details, call the museum on 020 7001 9844.

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