Thursday 18 July 2013

Working Together for Women

On Wednesday 10th July we held our second networking event for those working in and around the women’s sector. It was great that the real diversity of the women’s sector was represented, with campaigners against domestic violence, those working with disabled young women and organisations supporting single parents attending.

The theme of the event was ‘Working Together for Women’. The women’s sector is facing an incredibly difficult time, but collaboration can enable organisations to support each other and strengthen each other’s work. The event allowed us to meet, discuss current projects, challenges and look at ways we could work together more in the future.
The first of our two speakers was Kat Banyard. Kat discussed the ways her organisation UK Feminista brings together the expertise that already exists in the sector and those campaigning at a grassroots level to drive forward women’s equality. The UK Feminista Feminist Lobby of Parliament is one example. The lobby was supported by an alliance of organisations working on various issues and campaigns. The benefit of joining together in this way was that it signalled to politicians that we can’t separate women’s issues – they are interconnected, and can span across sex education and sexual violence, to the way women are portrayed  in lads’ mags and the representation of women in parliament. Furthermore, by bringing together so many voices, the lobby sent a powerful message to MPs - that feminism should be at the heart of politics.
Katy Taylor of the Aya Project, itself a partnership project between Women’s Aid and Imkaan, explained the need for more collaboration between bigger and smaller organisations in the current climate. Funding cuts have put huge pressure on the women’s sector and we know that to save costs  some commissioners are looking for one size fits all service provision. However, this approach will only exclude the most marginalised communities who already face huge barriers when accessing services. It is crucial that we work together to ensure that the tendering environment doesn’t create a marketplace that excludes the smaller organisations - as well as the women that need their expertise.  And in such partnerships, we shouldn’t assume that the larger organisation must automatically take the lead. Collaboration is not without its difficulties, but Katy explained that the key was to be led by the needs of the service users at all times.  

We know that some of those attending are already in discussion about working together on future projects and we hope that the event will spark some partnerships.

We are planning another similar event later in the year. If you are interested in attending and didn’t make it to this event or have any thoughts about a potential topic for the event please do get in touch: katherine.o’

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