Women affecting change – Carli Snowball-Hill

Nottingham Women’s Centre caseworker, Carli Snowball-Hill, writes about the outcomes of a focus group which asked how women can follow the example of the suffrage movement and affect change in a modern world…

Whilst we can recognise that there has been such strides made in the progress of womens rights, there are still so many more ways to bring about change. I spoke to 18 women who came together to discuss their ideas about what progress was needed and how they felt it should take place.

At Nottingham Women’s Centre on 29th of March we held a focus group and asked; How do you affect change? Many women discussed their volunteering in the centre and their wider community. Women expressed their belief in modelling the change that they wanted to see.

In recruiting for the focus group, I wanted as wide a range of women as possible. We have many volunteers at NWC who are keen to affect change, women who attend the different clubs and groups we run and women with lived experience that care and want to make it better for the next woman that has to navigate challenges in life. Therefore, I advertised through our International Womens Day celebrations, newsletter and posters in the welcome space. In all 18 women attended. They came from a broad framework of lifestyles and all were keen to get stuck in.

Gathering in the welcome space before being invited to come into the room gave everyone a chance to get to know each other and the excitement was contagious.

We started off with a list of questions all aimed at asking the women if they felt the need for societal change in relation to womens experiences; and if so did they already do something to bring this about?

If they did what and if not where they would go to have their voice heard. It was acknowledged that there were not very many places. The women all expressed that being in the womens centre was a unique experience. That this is why they liked coming here because they felt they would have their voice heard and that they mattered. One woman said she felt that ‘The further away the problem was from the experience of those in power the less you felt you were heard.’ This for me really emphasised the importance of a woman focused way of working.

This was especially prominent for women who had families or had supported their friends over the years navigating statutory services that are full to breaking, where time is money and not something that anyone has very much of.

Many women were passionate about justice being done, expressing their frustration at how systems within wider society routinely let them down and brought about more difficulties. When discussing this a rumble of agreement spread throughout the group. It was clear that these women felt strongly about bringing about change for women locally, nationally and internationally but they felt that often the louder they shouted the less people heard.

This led to a great consensus being drawn that change and progress had to start with small steps but that if we all took them together then we could go along way.

I felt very honoured and encouraged to listen to these views and felt that we could be confident in working together to make the press for progress a stronger and effective voice.

If you would like to get involved further please contact NWC for details about opportunities to have your voice heard locally and how that can be a positive impact nationally. Nottingham Womens Centre: 0115 9411475.

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