Women’s Voices – International Women’s Day 2021

Earlier this year two ‘tribes’ of women came together to deliver a week of activities to celebrate women as part of International Women’s Day on the 8th of March 2021 and explore this year’s theme ‘choose to challenge’.

“It came at a perfect time for me, not been involved in anything, despite wanting to”

“Right time, right place. Gave me a boost”

“Feel pretty isolated last few years, lost contact with people. Made me feel welcomed, felt knew everyone”

“So welcoming and genuine, went from happy to some really touching moments. Summed it up of how it ended, a tearful, joyful ending”

What did we do?

Women and staff from Inspire Women Oldham and Inspiring Change Women’s Voices met to plan and organise a full timetable of 10 activities over the week. Some co-hosted by both organisations and others by one, with invitations open to all. Turnout for activities went as high as 31 and altogether numbers across the activities were 165!

Women’s Voices also wanted to do something different and invite others into the space and celebrations, so organised an all genders welcome, ‘Women’s Voices Radicals’ quiz, with some great prizes to be won!

For this special week, our usual weekly meetup on Thursday’s for our women’s voices influencing group was transformed into a discussion group, with Tess and Safi debating the importance of the influencing factor and why both individual and collective voices are vital for social change.

We were entertained by Lyndsey and Clare through a spoken word session and poems to make you laugh and cry, inspiring both reflection and connection.

There were also some great art and craft activities like Pauline’s origami hearts and Rose’s mandala art. Some activities even helped us look at our self-image and self-esteem like Sarah and Amanda’s session on discovering our voices and Anastasia’s session on Frida Kahlo and self-portraits Frida style!

“My highlight was doing the portraits for Frida Kahlo with Anastasia. The self-portraits, were really good.”

Frida Kahlo self-portrait

Big highlight? Origami art, making the heart shapes – attempted before, but not been able to do and Pauline made it really easy and fun to do.”

What else did women say and think?

“No matter what mood I start the group in. I ALWAYS leave in a good mood”

“Women’s voices is the highlight of my week”

“Thanks everyone… you’re all my tribe” A

“What an amazing week with amazing women! thank you all x”

“Fantastic efforts by everyone; and the few events I managed to get on were great. Was so nice to see all of the women from both Inspire and ICM making connections and in such a supportive and empowering way too (with a lot of humour thrown in!).”

“So lovely to spend time with you all and WVs members, in such creative ways to celebrate IWD, with our friends at Inspire 😊” R

“Love art and crafts and all things creative – the way I feel, not been doing it. Last week set my spark off, wrote a poem and doing artwork again.”

Sarah’s poem 8th of March

The power of women

I am one, this is me

I am made of all I need to be

Look at me and you shall see,

Not always smiles and sunshine days,

Cause sometimes this woman needs a little shade

Shelter from the rain,

While I’m healing from all this pain and trauma,

But that is what drawn her to others just like me,

Who one day shall stand in their own victory

Holding each other’s hands and just saying I understand,

Each has their own story and feels their own pain

But being there for each other can really make you step up your game

So, my soul sisters I say thanks a f****ing bunch,

Cause when it comes to the crunch

I wouldn’t of made it through without you

Holding me up when I have felt weak and I almost gave into defeat,

You made me remember our power,

Now let’s go out there and shower it into the world

Unapologetically powerful beyond words, each

Cause that’s what a woman deserves

“Did the meditation event in the evening, not done that for a while – prompted to pick that up again, find some time for me. Really good.”

“Really enjoyed and coming together of different women over Zoom”

“Should do something once a week with inspire Oldham (one zoom session, joint), really enjoyed it and would like to get to know them more.”

“Had activities nearly every day – could join”

Lyndsey’s mandala art

“Fantastic. Meeting everyone, hearing some poetry and doing art”

“Waking up to myself again – being part of this.”

My favourite part… Abbie’s reflections on the week’s activities

My favourite part of Women’s Voices has always been being a part of a community of strong women who look out for each other, this was especially seen within the week of activities for International Women’s Week. Hosting online events with another organisation with women who don’t know each other has the potential for awkwardness, however this was not the case. Within the first session of the week women were laughing, sharing their stories and getting stuck into the activities taking place and this was only reinforced as the week went on.

Being a part of women sharing their poetry and artwork felt like such a privilege. As someone who is not creative in any way, it was a joy to watch individuals share their talents and be met with such praise from the other group members. It was also so uplifting to see members of our Women’s Voices groups lead on sessions and watch their confidence grow.

On some occasion’s women would share some of their struggles or upset and these stories were always immediately met with kind words and offers of support and comfort. This week highlighted why groups like these are so important. It provides an opportunity for women to come together and have some fun but also an ability to access peer support and to feel a part of a community or “tribe”. It was impossible to not come away from sessions in the week and not feel uplifted!

Thanks for reading. With voices of women included, pictures of activities and poems we hope that you feel part of these celebrations too.

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