Tuesday, 10 February 2009

A brief guide to Twitter for women's organisations

There’s been a lot of noise in the media about Twitter recently and you could get the impression that it’s just for self-promoting celebrities. But what is less reported is how useful it can be for charities and campaigns. WRC has been using Twitter since October 2008 and we (well, I) love it and think it could be a great tool for other women’s organisations.

From a very personal perspective, I like Twitter because people only get your updates if they’re actually interested in hearing from you. If they don’t find you interesting, they won’t follow you (or not for long). You can send out quick notices, let people know about interesting news, events or comments – all without cluttering up people’s inboxes. And you make contact with (and build relationships with) people you didn’t even know existed. It breaks down institutional barriers and opens up your organisation to supporters, potential supporters, peers and even policymakers.

What else can you do?

How to get started
Have a look at this ‘Twitter in plain English’ video (although it mostly explains Twitter’s benefits to individuals rather than organisations) and then this presentation. Then sign up to Twitter and find some people to follow (i.e. receive their updates). One way is to follow me, then see who I follow and if you’re interested in them, follow them too. There’s a list of charities on Twitter here, or try some US women’s organisations to see what they’re doing.

One last thing... I asked my 'followers' if they had any tips for women's organisations new to Twitter and here are some I received...
There’s so much more to say, but I hope this gives you a taste. As Christine Burns pointed out to me, Twitter encourages brevity, but if you want to know more, tweet me!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Seizing the opportunities of CEDAW!

In July 2008, the UK Government was disgraced when re-examined by the CEDAW Committee and were found to be wanting in their commitment to women’s rights. The UN said the UK Government has not kept up with their part of the bargain after signing up to the CEDAW Convention in 1981.

The Committee made 84 recommendations to the UK Government, including providing increased and sustainable funding to women’s organisations, raising public awareness about the Convention and upholding the Gender Equality Duty in terms of women only services. This was great news for the women’s voluntary and community sector and these recommendations can, and should, be used by women’s organisations to support arguments about the value of their services. CEDAW is a crucial tool that women’s organisations can use to lobby for funding, cooperation and new legislation to further the cause of women’s equality.

The next time the UK will be officially examined will be in Geneva in 2011 and we hope that there will be a full contingent of women’s organisations present and involved in the process to make sure that their voices and needs are listened to and acted on by the Committee and the UK government.

In order to prepare for 2011 we want to get the message out to women’s organisations across the UK – women need to be aware of, and be able to use, CEDAW in their core work and to strengthen their organisations, especially at a time when the women’s sector is so under threat.

2009 is the 30th anniversary of CEDAW so WRC have organised an event – Seizing the opportunities of CEDAW – on 24 March and are encouraging women’s organisations to come to learn more about the international instruments that are there to help them and to be able to hold the government to account. We also hope to create a sector-wide strategy for 2011 and to involve as many women as possible in this.

If you would like to find out more or get involved please contact us kara@wrc.org.uk and join our e-news, Facebook group or Twitter to keep updated.