Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Routes to Solidarity for BME women

Charlotte (Policy officer) and I (Skye Sandhu) went up to Leeds a few weeks back to attend Oxfam’s Yorkshire and Humber Routes to Solidarity training session. We gave a presentation on how women’s organisations can make an impact locally using the Gender Duty and other tools, and also discussed WRC’s Power and Prejudice report which was launched on the day of our visit - mirroring what we were working on with our sisters in the North.

The session was well attended by women’s groups from Sheffield, Bradford, Keighley, Leeds and other surrounding areas. The room was buzzing with energy and had there was a clear sense amongst the women of a need for action. Speakers included empowering women such as Alison Lowe, CEO of Touchstone and a local councillor for more than 20 years representing the ward of Armley in Leeds.

It was good to hear Leeds Council talk about their inclusive and comprehensive Equality and Diversity scheme, demonstrating the good practices they have in place, which I think other local councils up and down the country could learn from and in turn improve their equality schemes by benchmarking against it.

During the course of the day, women fed back on their next steps and began forming networks with one another - promoting solidarity in an ever increasing competitive world is a key concern for us at WRC. The women-led sessions I have attended have been transparent and have provided a valuable space for all ideas, questions and issues to be discussed

On the whole, I have every confidence that these sessions, which sadly will draw to an end after the last round in Sheffield in October, are in fact making a positive impact for women across the regions, not only by giving them the tools and knowledge to engage on a local level but also in allowing women to enhance their leadership skills and helping them to build partnerships with other women’s groups.