Steph is 28 years old and works in evaluation at a women’s charity. Steph is a member of the London Cohort of the Feminist Leaders 2019/2020 who attended the training in January 2020 and created a social action project on women and poverty during the pandemic.

Steph found out about the training in WRC’s newsletter and jumped on the chance to attend the programme. Reflecting on the programme, Steph says:

I thought the programme was amazing. I felt it was really transformative for me. But also I got the impression that other people found it transformative as well. Just really empowering. It was great to have an opportunity to think of what it means to be a feminist leader, both individually and collectively.

The training was just fantastic. You and Tebs were incredible facilitators and created such an amazing open space where you felt you could be honest and put yourself out there.

It felt like a really special kind of space where we could open up and learn and develop together.

Steph says that the reflection element of the training was really important to her.

I feel like at work sometimes it’s really fast-paced so there’s no real time to stop and reflect. And I think it’s really easy to side-line personal development when you’re really busy. Although there are lots of development opportunities, we don’t have any paid training or anything, so any training that comes up with Women’s Resource Centre I always go to them. I really value that you get funding for training for members. Reflection is so important, it’s so easy to just be caught up in life. Also in terms of being anti-oppressive, it’s so important to stop and really examine your own privileges and how they may affect your work.

Steph says that she felt that the social action project made the training different and thinks it was really powerful to create something out of nothing.

At work you’re given projects but you did not come up with the idea, there’s less opportunity to be creative. It was really powerful to come together with others and to think of what we’re interested in and developing something together. It was a really incredible experience and shows that you could do that in the real world. Like I could go to my friends and say ‘let’s do a social action project’, which I just wouldn’t have done before the training. So turning ideas into action as a collective was a really amazing thing.

Steph further explains that the programme increased her confidence. She says that she used to be really scared of public speaking but after the training, where she was speaking publicly and selected to co-facilitate a smaller session, she has now volunteered to facilitate sessions at her job. She says that this is an example of the skills she picked up in the training and that trying new things out, such as facilitation, in a safe space, has really led her taking more opportunities when they arise.

In terms of the online training, Steph says that she found them really useful. Particularly the session on negotiation skills. She recalls

The negotiation one completely just changed my idea of what negotiation is. And that I could totally just go for it. It’s not just the domain of white men who are bankers.

Thinking of the future, Steph says that she would like to stay connected to WRC and the women who participated, who really inspired her.

I felt so connected to the people on the original training but also on the digital sessions. I felt really connected to all these great people as well. Even though there wasn’t that much interaction with them, I was just like ‘I respect you, I think you’re incredible’.

Steph suggested a skills sharing page for the alumni where they could connect with each other and learn from each other.

I guess the sector needs to change as well, especially around anti-racism. I went to the WRC event [Sisters Doing It for Themselves: an introduction].  It was just the best chat I ever heard. It was so moving. Everything they said about how the women’s sector needs to be better. I’m not really involved in strategy and things like that. But supporting by and for organisations is so important. We all have so much work to do and to change the sector to work for the most marginalised women. It would be really nice to take that forward across the sector.

WRC is currently exploring various ideas and suggestions for how the alumni can stay connected and will take Steph’s idea on board. WRC is also doing an events series inspired by the event on 16th of July which Steph referred to above. The event series is called “What Does Solidarity Look Like in 2020 and Beyond” and the first event of the series, titled “Fair Commissioning for All”, is taking place on the 20th of November

Asking if there is anything else she wants to mention, Steph says:

I really valued you and Tebs telling personal stories, it made the training really special. It was so inspiring.

Thank you Steph for all your work and valuable contributions to the Feminist Leadership programme 2019/2020.

Feminist Leadership

Feminist Leadership 2019/2020

Women and Poverty During the Pandemic