Scotland’s Lochaber Women’s Aid engages community for gender equality while Kiwanis Club of Young Professionals Kingston, Jamaica inspires teen mums to achieve potential

 July 17, 2018

IWD Best Practice Winners

As outstanding examples of International Women's Day best practice activity in the charity sector, two important charities from oposite sides of the world supported the call to "Press for Progress".

In Scotland, Lochaber Women's Aid successfully engaged their local community in action to drive greater equality for women. While in Jamaica, the Kiwanis Club of Young Professionals in Kingston supported and inspired teen mothers to reach their potential.

Lochaber Women's Aid played a valuable and impressive role in raising awareness for International Women’s Day and the #PressforProgress campaign by successfully engaging with the local public, as well as private and voluntary organisations, to encourage their community to do more for gender equality. A superb effort indeed.

International Women’s Day 2018 coincided with the 100-year celebration of the first women achieving the right to vote in the UK and Scotland. This significant year for women's rights did not go unnoticed by Lochaber Women's Aid; a small not-for-profit charity in the Scottish Highland’s Lochaber region supporting women and children living under the threat of domestic abuse.

Women's library
Lochaber Women's Aid provided an inspiring International Women's Day library display.

Charity provided tangible actions to help forge gender parity in the community

Anita Maclean, Prevention Co-ordinator of Lochaber Women’s Aid said, “Our message on International Women’s Day is simple: wherever we live and work, our actions matter.” The charity provided a pragmatic list for how the local community could tangibly encourage and empower women and girls.

  • Tell one other person about International Women’s Day
  • Campaign for equality in your place of work, school or community
  • Select women as spokespeople and leaders
  • Extend opportunities to women first
  • Make an opportunity to showcase women’s success
  • Take a junior female worker to a meeting
  • Encourage your female neighbour to join their local community council
  • Check and make sure that you’re paying your staff equally regardless of gender
  • Have a party to celebrate the achievements of the females in your family or organisation
  • Challenge your husband, your brother, your father to think differently. Ask them what they can do to advance gender equality
Library displaying for IWD
Lochaber Women's Aid celebrated International Women's Day with their local community. 

Community interest and engagement was high

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Lochaber Women’s Aid created a display in Fort William Library showcasing the development of the women’s rights movement. The main focus of the display was a range of bunting that had been crafted by women and children supported by Lochaber Women’s Aid, depicting their views of inspirational women.

Lochaber Womens'Aid IWD
An impressive International Women's Day display exhibited local community input. 

The visually engaging display encouraged women and girls to go forward, press for progress and make change.

Women's IWD library display
Lochaber Women's Aid asked their commununity which women have inspired them.

The charity also asked people to nominate local, national and international inspirational women on blank canvases to highlight female pioneers.

IWD great women
Community engagement in International Women's Day was high.

An impressive public display adorned the high street

Lochaber Women's Aid charity is a long-term supporter of International Women’s Day and its 2018 activity built on its tremendous efforts for the previous year’s #BeBoldforChange campaign when window displays also adorned the high street. Once again, a flurry of purple appeared to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018 and show solidarity in the call to #PressforProgess.

Women's Aid
An exciting International Women's Day display adorned the high street.

Significant social media promotion and engagement was also provided. All around, Lochaber Women's Aid supported a significant #PressforProgress that truly engaged local people at a very grassroots level, and they deeply impacted the hearts and minds of their community.

Kiwanis Club in Jamaica inspires teen mums to achieve potential

Meanwhile across the world, Kiwanis Club of Young Professionals Kingston, Jamaica staged an important forum to inspire 40 adolescent mothers to #PressforProgress and challenge stereotypes to remove barriers to their potential. This important and inspiring International Women's Day event is a significant example of best practice.

An important mission, the Kiwanis Club of Young Professionals Kingston, Jamaica aims to impact the most vulnerable lives in Jamaica through meaningful service projects and inspire a call-to-action for each citizen to play their part in uplifting their communities. Jamaica has thankfully experienced a downward trend in teen pregnancy during the past five years. However, the challenge of adolescent mothers completing high school education, pursuing higher learning and career advancement still exists.

Jamaica International Women's Day
Adolescent teen mothers enjoyed an open and supportive discussion on International Women's Day. 

Impressive speakers encouraged women to overcome setbacks

Abigail Henry, resident civil engineer at Westech Limited, charged adolescent mothers to press for progress in challenging stereotypes and bias. She said that as a female engineer operating in male-dominated field, she remained motivated to prove her worth among her counterparts and to rise above the stereotypical views of society. Abigail credited hard work, dedication, and a good mentor as some of the keys to her success, encouraging the audience to recognise that they too can use similar tools to overcome their trials. Abigail reinforced the need to build on the solid foundation that has been set by previous women who have overcome similar challenges, including adolescent pregnancies or career setbacks as they pressed for progress.

A further speaker, Camille Facey, an attorney-at-law and partner at L. Howard Facey & Co, encouraged the forum’s participants to think about their future and to identify career options. She charged the women to set some overall goals for their lives and to work hard towards these goals, adding that they should treat every opportunity as a learning moment.

Dr Zoe Simpson, Executive Director of Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation, commended the Kingston chapter of Kiwanis Club of Young Professionals Kingston, Jamaica for their continued involvement with the Centre. "Your members serve as ideal role models for the adolescent mothers of who they too can become in society. You are not defined by motherhood, but by your potential."

Kiwanis Women's Day
Senior delegates shared their messages of support and encouragement, and reinforced the need to press for progress.

Senior leadership championed the event

The club’s President Mr. Kharie Blackwood delivered an official welcome. The Immediate Past President Dwayne Bailey introduced panellists. The Vice President Rocquel Walker-Brown chaired the forum discussion and the Chairperson for the Project Committee Chantal Bennett coordinated all further activities. Members contributed to refreshments, arranged the venue and conducted preliminary protocols such as national anthem singing and reaffirming tenets of the over-arching body, Kiwanis International. The Chairperson for the Image Committee Patricia Valentine and President Elect Naketa West managed all the public relations. Dr. Zoe Simpson, Executive Director of the Women's Centre, presented the greetings on behalf of the organisation, while many staff and students participated in the forum discussion.

Partnering with like-minded charities

Kiwanis Club partnered with the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, a leading institution that advocates for adolescent girls to complete their education and offers academic schooling, individual and group counselling sessions, and childcare services. The Women’s Centre focuses on pre-natal care as well as healthy lifestyles, not only for the babies but for their mothers as well. The collaboration highlighted the value of the Centre’s efforts and demonstrated support for national policies currently being implemented to address the challenges surrounding teen pregnancy.

Jamaica Women's Day
Groups collaborated on their calls-to-action to press for progress for women's equality.

Significant member engagement was achieved

Kiwanis members, both male and female, donated items for the forum. They were actively involved in planning, promoting and participating in the forum discussion. Additionally, member excitement was enhanced by a range of engaging activities leading up to the forum event. The club’s profile and the high esteem associated with the Kiwanis brand was fully utilised to increase advocacy and raise awareness about the impact of teen pregnancy. Further Kiwanis clubs and Jamaicans were called to action by way of extensive print and social media coverage. It was envisaged that such wide media coverage would reach and inspire teen mothers across the island who might not have access to a facility like the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation.

Kiwanis IWD
Audience engagement was significant at the International Women's Day event in Jamaica.

Open and candid sharing of experiences amongst teen mothers

The format of the forum encouraged active participation from teen mothers. A series of inspirational and influential professional female panellists spoke at the forum, and willingly shared their experiences with the teen mothers. Through the open and candid sharing of their own experiences, the panellists inspired the audience of teens to make good decisions. They gave practical advice for goal planning. They stressed the importance of hard work and encouraged them to not shy away from entering male-dominated professions.

Teen pregnancy Jamaica
Panellists, Abigail Henry, Terri-Karelle Reid, Camille Facey and president elect of Kiwanis Club of Young Professionals Kingston, Jamaica, Naketa West listens attentively as an adolescent mother, Karesha, shares her dreams at the IWD event at the Women’s Centre Foundation of Jamaica.

Reinforcing the call to #PressforProgress

Club members wore purple, the official theme colour for International Women’s Day. The venue and informational leaflet were decorated accordingly, and photos and selfie images of members and participants proudly displayed the International Women’s Day logo. The #PressforProgress campaign theme was reinforced throughout the event’s programme, press releases and social media postings.

Positive press coverage achieved

Local newspapers covered the event and its success as they joined the call to “press for progress”. The event saw adolescent mothers being encouraged to press for progress in challenging stereotypes and bias.

Building on success of previous years

The International Women’s Day 2018 Forum is the third of its kind in Jamaica. The Kiwanis Club of Young Professionals Kingston, Jamaica first began the forum in 2016 with an inspirational panel of three successful female leaders in their respective professions, who were themselves adolescent mothers. The participants were inspired by these women who once stood in their shoes and who showed that their future did not have to be limited by their past or present circumstances. In 2017, the International Women’s Day forum encouraged adolescent mothers to express their hopes and dreams for the future by engaging them in the powerful tool of visioning. 

Keen to lend its support, Nestle Jamaica Ltd has provided sponsorship for staging the forum each year. The events have proven to be a huge success, and so it is the vision of the organizers to continue their annual partnership with the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation for many years to come.

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