Young Women’s Leadership Summit 2017

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*Here’s an old post that got lost in my drafts – I meant to post it in October 2017 🙈

I am. I can. I will.

If I’m going to be 100% honest here, I’ll have to admit I didn’t give this summit much thought when I bought a ticket. It was weeks away, and while it sounded like it’d be interesting and informative, I didn’t have the time or inclination to think into it that much.

So when the day came, I was fairly casual about my expectations. Women’s events don’t usually have a lot of funding, and I had no idea how big the event was going to be – a room of twenty or so women seemed likely to me.

Oh was I wrong.

What I found instead, was an incredibly well organised, well funded, and inspiring group of women.

Speakers included Police District Commander for Waitemata Tusha Penny, CORT Chair and Altris Leadership Developer Sue Watson, former All Black and mental health advocate John Kirwan, young social entrepreneur and GirlBoss founder Alexia Hilbertidou, and other inspiring women.

The day consisted of groups sessions, panels, and workshops aimed at empowering and inspiring the young women attending. Each speaker presented their unique story, the ups and downs of  life and the journey they had taken to their current point. Even as young women, many of us nodded along to these stories – recognising the similarities between many women’s experiences.

From the young women in the room attending with me, to the speakers and facilitators, the entire day buzzed with energy. There was no feeling of conflict or competition – instead the atmosphere was one of companionship, we were all in it together. Never before have I been in a room full of women so energised by the potential for change, let along a room of women mostly under 25. Some were high school students, learning about feminism and the potential of young women as leaders.

That alone was enough to excite me, but it was more than that.

I think too often we as women feel as though we must climb over the backs of women to get to positions of power. Women are so often discriminated against and looked over for promotion, that when the time comes we push ourselves forwards, thinking there’s only room for the few of us at the top.

This needs to end.

As we grow and climb and are lifted up to greater heights, we must lift up the other women below us. It is our responsibility as women to devote ourselves to the advancement of other women, be it in large or small ways. We (obviously) aren’t all in positions to hire women, but I still think there is more we can do. Refer your friends for jobs if you can, allow other women the chance to speak if you have a platform.

Every women has different experiences, whether it be due to age, class, ethnicity, ability, sexuality, gender expression. But what unites us are our shared qualities, our status as women and the way society perceives us because we are women.

This summit made me realise just how important it is that we stick together as women, and how empowering it can be to feel an atmosphere of change. we stand on the shoulders of women who fought for our rights to work, vote, and lead. Next, we must provide the shoulders to stand upon.

We are. We can. We will.

 

 

Check out these incredible doodles from the sessions during the summit! 

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See below for the song Black Friars Theatre Company wrote and performed for us; 

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