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.