Today we have an exciting podversation with Alicia Luther-Jones, Philanthropy Manager at Womankind, one of Strengthscope’s charity partners. We talk about Womankind’s vision and purpose, because more people need to know about the amazing work these guys do. And of course, there’s a clear connection with strengths, as you’d expect, plus timing’s really good as we’ve just had International Women’s Day.
My name’s Dr Paul Brewerton, the strengths guy, podcasting to you each Monday morning in time for your first commute of the week. I talk about work, life and strengths and how those three things come together, perfectly brought to life by today’s podversation.
Tell us about Womankind. What does Womankind do?
I know it’ll unfortunately come as no surprise to you that even in 2020 women are denied their human rights all over the world. There are millions of women and girls who don’t have any choice about what they can do or say each day – simply because they are women. Globally, at least 1 in 3 women experience violence in their lifetime. Women work longer hours and are paid less. Fewer than 1 in 4 parliamentarians worldwide are women.
Womankind Worldwide is a global women’s rights organisation that works to change this. Our small team is based in the UK and we work in partnership with women’s rights organisations and movements, in Africa and Asia and at a global level, to transform the lives of women and girls. We support women’s movements to strengthen and grow by providing the tools and resources they need to change the lives of women, in the home, the workplace and the communities they live in.
This includes women’s rights programming, awareness raising, knowledge sharing, research, capacity development and fundraising. At the international level, we work in partnership with women’s organisations and movements to influence governments and international agencies to protect and promote women’s rights.
What is the organisation’s purpose and what are its aims?
Our mission is to work in equal partnership and solidarity with women’s movements at the local, national and international levels towards transformational change in women’s lives. Our main aims are to end all forms of violence against women and girls, support women to exercise their economic rights and control resources and enable women to equally influence decision making and exercise political power.
Where in the world is Womankind helping?
Over our 30 year history, we have worked across 37 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. However, we recognise that long-lasting change is complex, and that working to support women’s movements requires depth and long-term collaboration, so we currently focus our work in five countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
I was recently fortunate enough to travel to Zimbabwe to meet our partner Deaf Women Included and some of the women they support. One of the women I had the privilege of meeting was Nomatter. Nomatter lost her hearing after contracting meningitis as a young child. When she first attended a Deaf Women Included meeting she was very shy but now Nomatter is seen as a leader amongst the deaf community in Gweru. Deaf Women Included unites women, regardless of their disability, and supports them to understand their rights and stand firm. It was incredible to meet Nomatter and hear how Womankind’s work with Deaf Women Included has supported her to stand tall, fight for her rights and help other women.
This is project is actually the focus for our International Women’s Day appeal so do head to the Womankind website to find out more and donate.
What impact has the organisation had – what have been some success stories?
Since Womankind Worldwide was established in 1989, we’ve supported over 30 million individuals, guided by our clear and distinctive vision: to achieve a world where the rights of all women and girls are respected, valued and realised. As an organisation we’ve always believed that women are powerful agents of change. To name just a few examples…
We’ve united behind women making decisions. In Kenya, our support contributed to a 121% increase in the number of women standing for 2013 elections.
We’ve contributed to ending domestic violence. After years of lobbying, Womankind and partners helped enact domestic violence legislation in Ghana and Zimbabwe paving the way for women to access redress to violence against them.
We’ve worked towards the end of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early and forced marriage. In 2000, we supported one Kenyan partner to provide 90% of FGM practitioners in one region with alternative skills training.
Paul: Let’s talk about getting everyone on message and pulling together for Womankind. I know that we’ve been doing some fundraising for you guys – particularly notable is my colleague Scott running the London Marathon on one of your charity places and he’s using the hashtag #womankindofalongrun in case you’re interested to follow him. We’ve also had a charity quiz night where we raised a few hundred pounds for you guys and had a lot of laughs and fun as well. I won about three prizes in the raffle one of which was one of your awesome purple t-shirts which my girlfriend now wears out while running to raise awareness. And we’ve got other fundraising and awareness-raising ideas coming up too…
How else can people help in this amazing cause?
- Give a monthly donation: these donations from amazingly kind people are truly the lifeblood of our organisation… it means we can plan for the future and continue to be there for our partners and for women around the world.
- Spread the word! Tell your friends about us, follow us on social media…
- Challenge yourself in 2021 to run the London Marathon for us! We’ve got spaces!
Paul: Let’s talk about the strengths approach and how that can fit in…
Where the strengths approach and Strengthscope are often used is in women in leadership programmes (for example, most recently, at BT and Channel 4) in order to build women’s confidence in how they can contribute uniquely in their specific context. We find that women who experience Strengthscope report being more aware of their unique strengths and talents and more confident in how to use these to help create more positive workplaces as well as using their strengths more confidently outside of work, in their wider lives.
In addition, we have found that introducing all people to Strengthscope, male and female, and from all demographic groups, can bring a greater understanding and appreciation of diversity and uniqueness. This can significantly increase levels of inclusion in decision-making, team and group working, because people connect with each other better on a human level and better appreciate each other’s strengths and talents, as well as where areas of risk might be.
Alicia, where else do you feel the strengths approach can help – how else is it relevant to your mission?
We believe that when women are aware of our own strength, and we are empowered to use it, then we can be powerful agents of change within their communities, both locally and nationally. To give the example of our partner in Zimbabwe Deaf Women Included again, they work to amplify the voices of women with disabilities in the community and through workshops, women with disabilities are learning about the laws in place to protect them, how to become leaders and how to shape a more open and fair society for women with disabilities. The workshops have already seen women report an increase in confidence and a new desire to fight to achieve their full rights.
Paul: Thank you so much Alicia, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me today. I wish you all the very best with everything you’re doing and anything more that we can do, or that the amazing folk out there can do, please let me know.
That’s it for this week, till next time, let’s go make the world a better place.
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