Thursday, 9 December 2010

Facing Our Future - WRC conference a success!

After months of planning, WRC's annual conference for 2010 kicked off on 7th December at Cass Business School in central London - and a great day it was!

The aim of the day was to provide attendees with both valuable information on the current political and economic situation of the women's sector and to provide concrete advice on how women's organisations can best position themselves in the current environment.

To that end, we kicked the day off with some speed networking, to allow the 100 or so women present to meet others from within the sector, before moving to our first panel of the day on the future of the women's sector, where panellists from Navca, the Ashiana network, North East Women's Network and the EHRC spelled out what the next year has in store for the sector and what women working in the sector must do to ensure sustainability.

Following an excellent presentation by Belinda Pratten of NCVO on the Big Society, and what it means for the women's sector, attendees broke into groups for the first session of 'surgeries', on social media, social enterprise and partnerships, with experts from each topic available. The surgeries were a great success, as people got to grips with the big questions behind the topics, and we can't thank enough those who took the time to come and take part in them despite a hectic pre-Christmas schedule!

After lunch and another round of surgeries, WRC's National Equality Partnership (NEP) took to the stage for a one hour panel discussion on equalities and how women's organisations can best diversify. The audience were particularly interested to hear from Camilla Thrush, equality and inclusion manager for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) on how the Olympics had tackled the challenge of ensuring diversity on all levels of work on the games , although she joked that the role didn't mean she could get any Olympics tickets!

It quickly became apparent throughout the day that direct action was where women's organisations want to be. Tired of funding concerns, lack of support and continued gender disparity, throughout the day panellists, speakers and attendees spoke of the need to make the message clear to all - the women's sector must be supported in order for it to continue its invaluable work in helping women across the UK.

Our keynote speaker, journalist and author Bea Campbell, put it best at the end in her inspiring speech to the audience, where she told women present it was not enough for them to be angry about the situation of women in this country.

"You have to be dangerous!" she said, sparking applause from those present.

At the close of the conference and after a successful AGM in which two of our organisation's new trustees were successfully sworn in and we bid a fond farewell to both our chair, Helen Rice, and our treasurer, Lakshmi Raja-Rayan, the attendees spilled out into the main milling area of Cass Business school for drinks, canapes and a rousing performance by all female drumming troupe Foroyaa.

WRC would like to thank everyone who took the time to attend the event or to take part for their support on the day. The event was a great success, and while at times there were sobering reminders of the economic, political and social challenges ahead for the sector, we hope here at WRC that the day gave all those present some grounding in how best to help their organisation face the the future.

After all, that is what WRC is here for!