Gathering of Women Leaders started very small back in 2012 (here’s the original ideas – PDF) – I first visited one in 2013, and have endeavoured to make it to at least one every year (there have been three, next year there will be two), despite living a long way out of London – as I have formed some excellent relationships, friendships, and networking opportunities there (often all come together!) – whilst gaining the opportunity to hear from a wide range of women about issues, stories, celebrations that we can discuss.
Initially I’d been a little wary about joining a women’s group – these come with connotations of knitting, childcare, etc discussion – but I knew the people who were inviting me – and they were right – there was lots of meaty topics to get involved in – over time I’ve heard about the arts, theatre, women in ordained roles, women in everyday roles, domestic violence, FGM, and generally from women changing the world from where they are. Deeply inspiring. Deeply challenging.
We have a range of networking opportunities, then it’s onto the speakers. This time we had Jessie Joe Jacobs – award winning charity founder, and now activist with the Labour Party – determined to undertake structural change, rather than dealing with the effects of poor policy, especially with relation to poverty (and benefits):
Society does not welcome you being a voice for the voiceless. When challenge root causes (e.g. hunger) =discomfort = resistance #gwl15
— Dr Bex Lewis (@drbexl) October 10, 2015
We then heard from Emily Chalke – who has a lifelong passion for helping women be freed from prostitution and trafficking, and has been setting up a home for those women who tend to fall through the cracks in the system – she ran from Edinburgh to London to raise £30k to help kickstart it:
— Danielle Welch (@dwelch77) October 10, 2015
We also heard from Catriona Robertson, currently interim director for the Christian Muslim Forum alongside other roles – who is “interested in how people live well and equitably together without having to be the same. ”
We finished the day with q&a, and in group conversation about the themes that had rung through the day, and what we thought we were going to take away from it (aside from the left over sandwiches) …
(I may have started the day with a few tweets from #GWL15!)
The next one is March 5th 2016 – keep an eye on the website for more information.
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.