My story: Miriam O’Reilly

Miriam O'ReillyWhat stung the most when I lost my job on Countryfile was the lack of justice, the fact that some of the male reporters on the team were staying with the programme as it moved to a prime-time slot on BBC1 on Sunday evenings while I was dropped, along with 3 other women. And then other younger presenters were taken on. I was delighted by my victory in the Tribunal, though the journey was far from easy. I experienced great periods of despair and isolation when I thought I would never work again in the industry that I love. I was pleased that the BBC accepted the tribunal findings and apologised.  

How it made me feel

In 2011 the Guardian named me as one of the 100 most inspirational women in the world which was a fantastic thing. If my story can help other women who have been discriminated against in the workplace because of their age or sex to stay firm and fight the discrimination then I feel that is really important. When I won my case I said “Words cannot describe how happy I feel. It's historic.” I really hope that illegal discrimination will become a thing of the past, and despite all the anxieties, stress and strains and financial worries about starting legal action, feel completely justified in my decision to take a stand because it was the right thing to do. When I came to Britain from Ireland at the age of five there were signs that said: "No dogs, no blacks, no Irish." At school I was called a "dirty paddy". They called me stupid and thick because of my accent. From that moment I didn't let anybody undermine me. When I experienced bullying behaviour at the BBC I decided I wasn’t going to put up with it, and I hope that other women facing similar problems will find the strength to do the same.

Women's Equality Network

This forum provides a safe place where women can exchange stories and look for advice. We hope that it will prevent the isolation and loneliness that many women experience when going through a difficult time at work. When I started my fight against discrimination I felt very alone, but as other women reached out it gave me the courage to keep going. I know there is strength in numbers and together we achieve more than we can on our own. I am very pleased to be WEN’s first patron and wish all women who visit the site the very best with their battles for equality.