By Natalie Ratner, North Halifax Partnership Ward Link Worker
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a time to take stock of the journey to equality, celebrate how far we’ve come and recognise the achievements of those women breaking glass ceilings. What we often don’t do is consider the more subtle and imperceptible ways that gender inequality plays out in the daily lives of the women in our communities. In examining the gaps and the work we still have to do to bridge them, a word kept coming to mind – confidence. So often it is a lack of confidence that holds women back from achieving what they want. So for this year’s IWD celebration we wanted to give opportunities for very practical ways women can increase their self-confidence. The Embrace Equity programme was a series of practical and informal workshops for local women to improve their confidence and try their hand at the jobs that might traditionally be termed ‘men’s jobs’.
Despite the late snow, the first session of Learn to use Power Tools went ahead with Nick Jennings from the Phoenix Shed showing participants the different applications of a power drill and screwdriver, how to use the chuck, which bits to use and how to change the direction, speed and torque to most suit the job you’re doing. We had a go at drilling and screwing into wood and masonry. It was a fantastic session where we all learnt a lot and by the end, we were itching to get on with some projects at home!
Then came the strong wind and rain but it didn’t put a dampener on the Heels to Wheels session delivered by the fabulous Lou from Womanic who travelled all the way from Birmingham to teach us basic car maintenance with tips and tricks on checking a car’s history and how to buy the best used car for your money. We learnt about the warning symbols on the dashboard, how to check and top up fluids and lots more so we could feel confident in understanding our vehicles. Participants fed back that they really enjoyed the day and felt they learnt lots about their cars which helped them feel empowered!
Next up was the first North Halifax Women’s Circle, hosted by our very own Claire Livingstone, who talked us through how to tell our personal stories effectively and with confidence. It was inspiring to hear other women’s stories of challenges, achievements, work, parenthood and travel and a timely reminder that women face their trials and tribulations with such strength and courage but that we don’t always stop to recognise that. We also enjoyed an afternoon tea and went away with a copy of ‘Feel the Fear and do it Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers. It was great to see friendships forming in just one afternoon with attendees swapping phone numbers to meet up later which goes to show how friendly and supportive our communities can be! Everyone gave the session 10/10 and said they’d love to do it all again.
The final session was delivered by yours truly and something that I have been keen to do for a while. Back in 2013, when I found myself newly single with small children, I would never have dreamed that I could do DIY myself. After hiring a series of handymen who cost an arm and a leg and left a poor finish, I realised the only difference between me and them was that they felt confident to give it a go. That realisation led to me learning a few DIY skills which I have built on and improved over the years and was keen to show other women that they can do it too. We discussed wallpaper types, batch numbers, required tools, measuring, mixing the paste and tips for hanging wallpaper straight and around awkward areas before giving it a go ourselves. Everyone felt the session was useful, scoring it 10/10 and said they now felt confident to give it a go in their own homes. Everyone took home a tool kit and a copy of the book too.
It has been absolutely incredible to meet so many amazing women over the programme and see their confidence increase. Everyone fed back that would enjoy more opportunities like the ones on offer and I’ve been really inspired to create more opportunities for women in North Halifax to come together to support each other and pass on our skills and knowledge because when women support women, amazing things happen. Here’s to empowering women, not just for International Women’s Day but for every day of every year. If you have an idea of your own or would like to discuss setting something up in your area, please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org