Throughout the ages, women have been the beating heart of their families and the neighborhoods in which they live. But despite this vital role, many still feel like they are taken for granted because their voices are not heard or they lack the support to help them get out of the backseat and into pole position. .
Starting this month, a new program in Northern Ireland could be of benefit, as the women of Belfast are given the opportunity to learn new leadership skills to improve the lives of members of their community, through a project led by two of the country’s leading women’s rights activists. , Rachel Powell and Elaine Crory.
The duo worked together on the Raise Your Voice campaign to end violence against women and the Women’s Policy Group feminist recovery plan.
In January and February, their Community Campaigners project, supported by Belfast City Council, will be available online.
Managed by the Women’s Resource and Development Agency (WRDA), the free course provides training to women to provide them with “the tools to campaign for better services for their communities.”
WRDA course coordinator Deirdre Quinn said she wanted to encourage more women to take on leadership roles in their local communities.
“Community Campaigners is a short training course designed to give women the tools they need to launch a campaign on the issues that interest them,” she says.
“We know that many women care deeply about the well-being of their community and the city in which they live and have many ideas on how to make things better. Our goal with this program is to show them how to turn those ideas into action.
“I have been working as a Good Relations Coordinator with WRDA since 2018, which involves running community relations programs for women as well as the Raise Your Voice campaign focused on sexual harassment and violence, and so this program fits well in my area of interest, and I will be one of the coaches.
“I am also involved in a few local campaigns and have learned, sometimes the hard way, what it takes to run a successful campaign.
“In fact, I was one of the pilot learners of this project several years ago so I know how useful it is, how practical and focused the sessions are and how much the participants will get out of it.
“I can’t wait to give back some of what I got. “
Quinn says one of the goals of the program is to empower women to have their voices heard and to become agents of change and growth in their communities.
“I think one of the things we need most, in Belfast and beyond, are committed and passionate women with ideas, who know how to be heard,” she says.
“I know there are a lot of women who see themselves in this description but who may not be sure about their abilities or their skills.
“This course addresses that need and shows people some really practical steps that can be taken to achieve their goals, and the skills they learn will come in handy in a variety of ways.
“I also think that there are many determined women who want to become activists to improve the quality of life in their areas, but need the confidence and practical skills to persuade the powers that be to sit down and take note.
“This course provides the tools to do that.
“They don’t need any formal education or experience because we’ve designed it for absolute beginners and people with some experience.
“So if you’ve ever said to yourself ‘someone should do something about this’ then this course is for you. “
Rachel Powell, who is the women’s sector lobbyist who works to raise awareness of women’s issues in Stormont, said the goal was to reach out to women who were previously not involved in activism and who wish to bring Changes.
“A lot of women want to make changes in their communities, but they don’t know where to start,” she says.
“This training does not require any prior qualification, just a desire to get involved and acquire new skills.
“All social change comes about thanks to the work of grassroots activists; they are at the heart of the feminist movement.
“Good activism is about working collectively, sharing your strengths, and learning from others. “
Elaine Crory, Training Development Manager for WRDA, agrees and says that while the past two years have been tough for everyone, it has also helped people see that change is needed and now, she and her colleagues are there to help them transform their future.
“My role is to design and deliver courses for women from marginalized or disadvantaged communities that will allow them both to empower them and to tackle the systemic inequalities that currently exist,” she said.
“The past year and a half has been very difficult for so many women, but it has also provided a time when many have valued their lives and wanted to make a change.
“The course for activists aims to give them the confidence to challenge themselves and use their skills to make a meaningful difference in their own lives and that of their community.
“It will help them by increasing their self-confidence and (giving them) a sense of empowerment and may even allow them to continue their education, training or employment. “
According to Elaine, women are often in the best position to identify the needs of their own community and many are passionate about the issues and want to become activists to improve the quality of life in their area, but need the trust. and practical skills to gain the powers of sitting and knowing.
“Designed for absolute beginners, the course will share skills in communication and campaign strategy writing, including the effective use of social media and the application of critical thinking,” she says.
“Whether you are interested in perinatal mental health care, helping older people with isolation, supporting caregivers caring for family members with dementia, or helping children with SEN , to name just a few topics, this course will give you the practical skills and tips to make your voice heard.
The first Community Campaigners course begins on Tuesday, January 18, and the second course begins on Tuesday, February 15. Both take place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Zoom and run for four consecutive Tuesdays.
Each course consists of four half-day sessions, covers critical thinking, communication skills, strategic planning and how to use human rights and equality law to strengthen a campaign.
Participants do not need any prior education or training, just an interest in developing their campaign skills for the good of the community.
Anyone wishing to participate must be from the Belfast City Council area.
Those who successfully participate will earn a Level Three Open College Network (OCN) NI in Community Campaigning and Lobbying.
If you would like to participate, send a paragraph explaining why you are interested to firstname.lastname@example.org