University of Derby Union of Students uses International Women's Day merchandise to deliver "most engaging" event ever

 July 29, 2018

IWD Best Practice Winners

University of Derby Union of Students was keen to engage fellow students to #PressforProgress and organised a highly successful International Women's Day tea party that provided a range of engaging activities.

As a great example of best practice, the International Women's Day merchandise was used by the Union of Students to strongly attract audience attention, raise awareness, and to help professsionalise and amplify their own efforts.

"Our visible presence from the International Women's Day events pack meant we were unavoidable!" explained Abby Wilson, President, Union of Students at the University of Derby.

"We championed international women’s day 2018 by taking centre stage. Where in years gone by we would have a small stand in the corner of the library which few approached, we moved our event in to the heart of the university, which we call the atrium, where 2,000 students a day pass through. It is the first thing you saw when you entered the university."

Derby University Students
International Women's Day merchandise provided a fast and easy way to align activity on the day.

International Women's Day Event pack created strong presence

"We used the events pack to decorate the venues which gave us a strong visible presence. We then used the International Women's Day logo with our own Union of Students and University branding to create polaroid frames where guests wrote about a woman who inspired them and they pinned them to the display boards," explained Abby. By the end of both events, the Union of Students had four display boards applauding successful role models and inspirational women.

"Our efforts stopped people in their tracks as they read and smiled about the inspirational women," said Abby. "This was a great way to get people interacting with the event and reflecting on the women who have shaped their lives."

International Women's Day - University of Derby Student Union - boards
University of Derby Union of Students raises awareness by encouraging students and staff to celebrate inspirational women and role models.

Not only did the Union of Students upscale their International Women's Day event at their Derby campus, but they also used the merchandise to replicate the same event the following day at their Buxton campus in the peak district to ensure all staff and students across Derbyshire had the opportunity to get involved," commented Abby. The International Women's Day merchandise supported a brilliant display including banners, bunting and tableware.

University of Derby Students Union IWD
University of Derby Union of Students activity celebrating International Women's Day connected the hearts and minds of its audience.

Raising awareness about inequality still present

The Union of Students' afternoon tea event was aimed at awareness raising about the inequalities women still face in society and globally. It created an inclusive environment for all students at the university, and Union members welcomed passers-by to sit down, have a drink and engage on gender issues. The Union of Students worked closely with the University's gender equality staff group to spread the word about the Union of Students' International Women's Day activity and the call to #PressforProgress. Collectively, university staff and students interacted fabulously and together celebrated the important occasion.

University of Derby Union of Students
Event participants publicly shared their thoughts, views and actions for helping advance women's equality across many areas.

Perhaps one of the most innovative and interesting parts of the Union of Students' International Women's Day activity was an open microphone activity. The Union of Students invited student societies to get the ball rolling for International Women's Day with some fantastic spoken word performances. Through passionately delivered poetry, students inspired a wave of staff and fellow students to take to the podium to say a few words or share their stories or empowerment or struggle.

"The open forum left attendees feeling empowered and provided a deep sense of community in the University's atrium, an area where usually people pass through with their heads down," explains Abby.

The University of Derby Union of Students' International Women's Day efforts were impressive and effective.

As a result of the Union of Students' activity deeply engaged so many students, the University's Gender Equality Group went on to invite students to a meeting that encourages them to participate in collaborating on the University's Athena Swan application - an important, beneficial and purposeful experience for the students.

The most engaging event held this year by the Union of Students

"With tuition fees at an all-time high and pressure on students to achieve the best grades in order to get the ‘most for your money’, we’ve seen a decline in engagement with political issues and a rise in apathy. As a passionate advocate for gender equality, I chose International Women's Day to target our students and get them passionate too," explained Abby.

"The event was fantastic and saw the most engagement out of any other liberation event held this year, we saw a wide range of students engaging and talking among each other from mature students, to students with disabilities, black and ethnic minority (BME) students, male and female and university staff. Our International Women’s Day events have come a long way since a corner of the library that nobody engaged with!" said Abby.

University of Derby Student Union - student support
The Union of Students at the University of Derby provided a free International Women's Day afternoon tea to engage students and staff about gender issues.
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