International Women’s Day, working together to achieve a more gender-balanced world.

    This year’s theme, #BalanceForBetter asked people to think about the ways in which they could take action for equality.

    International Women's Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world.

    Each year, Milton Keynes Community Foundation, working together with local organisations, hold an event to celebrate the day and invite local women to think about and honour the women in their lives who made a positive impact and inspired them.

    The day started at the Piano Bar at Milton Keynes Theatre, with a great chance to network with some of the inspirational women from Milton Keynes across many sectors including education, the arts, business and the Third Sector.

    Ruth Farwell

    The keynote speaker, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, Ruth Farwell highlighted the current landscape.

    "Today is about challenging ourselves too, and I'm going to put mine out there. I think progress to achieving true equality has been slow, too slow. As it's International Women's Day, I'm going to present you with some global data. Over the past few years reports have been published which show that globally:

    23% of national parliamentarians are women

    29% of news media leaders

    27% of judges

    25% of senior managers, and

    15% of corporate board members.

    Is that good enough for the early decades of the 21st century?...

    Think about someone who inspired you as a leader - not a leader on the world stage like Mother Theresa or Michelle Obama - someone you have known personally. It could be a situation where that person was a leader of a small team, not necessarily of a big organisation, a person working for the collective good or volunteering and clearly having an impact bringing people together and motivating them to contribute and be proud to be part of the organisation. How would you describe them? 

    On International Women’s Day, let's start to develop a lexicography of leadership which will inspire women to become leaders and get balance for the general good."

    The day was hosted by Milton Keynes Community Foundation Trustee, Kurshida Mirza, who spoke about the women who she looks up to and finds inspiring. Kurshida invited Maryam Smit from Milton Keynes Islamic Arts, Heritage and Culture organisation and Tara Page from Milton Keynes Gallery to speak about the projects they are doing to help and support local women.

    Maryam Smit

    Maryam talked about a project MK Community Foundation has supported, that has very recently finished called ‘Cross-Stitching Beyond Borders’, a women-only community project delivered by MK Islamic Arts, Heritage and Culture organisation at Milton Keynes College. The project’s purpose is to create a space where women can meet, share creativity and build friendships alongside creating beautiful Moroccan inspired cushions for the 'Art at the Willen Lake Festival', 29th and 30th June 2019. The group focused on including local refugee women who might be experiencing isolation and loneliness within their communities.

    Tara Page

    Tara then spoke to us all about a project that will be running at Milton Keynes Gallery called ‘The Work Life Project’ which will be a series of workshops and talks that will be exclusively for young women within Milton Keynes to help them discover how their skills can contribute to the creative industry. This project was supported by Milton Keynes Community Foundation through the Tampon Tax fund, which was part of a National Initiative where £3.4million pounds of National funding was shared across more than 400 projects in the UK who are working with some of society’s most vulnerable women and girls.

    After the networking and talks at the theatre, we made our way onto the Milton Keynes Rose, where we were greeted by MÓTUS who performed an amazing dance for us based on the #BalanceForBetter theme. Their dance incorporated the pillars at The Rose, with the dancers Hannah and Chris climbing on top of the pillars and using the space around them to show, through movement, the fight for gender equality and balance. 

    Thank you

    MK Community Foundation also want to thank their Senior Corporate Members, CityFibre for sponsoring the event and for donating £500 to our Women’s Fund.

    Women in Enterprise also announced a donation of £1,000 to our Women's Fund that is used to support groups who:

    • encourage women to achieve economic self- sufficiency
    • prevent violence against women and girls
    • promote emotional and physical wellbeing for women and girls
    • create opportunities for educational, artistic and personal growth of women and girls.

    They would also like to send a huge thank you to all of the women who attended who helped to make the day such an inspirational event, and to the groups who took the time to come and speak to us about their projects that are helping the lives of local women.

    MK Community Foundation would like to say thank you to High Sheriff Ruth Farwell for her moving speech and our Trustee Kurshida Mirza, for facilitating the day so brilliantly.

    Thanks also go to their Senior Corporate Members, CityFibre for sponsoring our event and for donating £500 to our Women’s Fund.

    MK Community Foundation would like to welcome collaboration for next year’s event. If you are part of a group/projector movement and would like to contribute to next year’s celebration please get in touch with us at info@mkcommunityfoundation.co.uk or give us a call on 01908 690 276.

    We are all in this together and would love the women of MK to work alongside MK Community Foundation to own this day. 

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