Enabling change for leadership
Florencia Cayaban Kingscote, participant.
A pilot initiative, the Women, Leadership and Sustainable Change (WLS) training course was innovatively created by the Sustainable Communities programme at IofC-UK, in response to Maqsood Ahmed OBE, Director of Community Development, Muslim Hands, who called for an initiative to build the capacities of BAME women in London.
The main objective of the programme was to empower and encourage women to take steps in their own lives to enable them to build their capacity and to fulfil their potential. The programme employed a holistic approach where mindfulness practice training was incorporated each week. The mindfulness silence component of the course provided a powerful tool for participants, allowing them to learn how to put aside the stresses and pressures of their everyday lives, feel centred and discover their inner wisdom.
A concern that arose time and again throughout the course was the issue of encountering racism, which for some participants is a daily occurrence. They are challenged in their children’s schools, in their own experience of education and in the sphere of employment: for being a woman, for the colour of their skin, for the religious clothing they may wear, to trying to speak out against injustices. As part of the group, participants had the opportunity to gain support and guidance in tackling such a deep-rooted issue, which had become a painful, emotional struggle in their lives.
Another participant, Donna Noel powerfully stated: 'This course has highlighted the importance of communities and progressive thinkers galvanising their skills to work collectively to make a change and that this is the only way real change can happen.'
What was particularly remarkable about the WLS programme was how its coordinators - Dr Lul Seyoum, President, International Centre for Eritrean Refugee and Asylum Seekers; Dr Muna Ismail, Project Manager, Sustainable Communities Programme, IofC UK; Amina Khalid, Project Manager, Peace Begins At Home; and supported by Don de Silva, Head of Programme Administration & Communities, IofC-UK - had addressed the core values of transformational change without words, but with pure action. They had successfully fostered a space where 20 women were able to communicate with one another in a display of honesty and openness, unselfishness, encouragement, respect and love.
Written by Yasmine Kamel, participant.
Photos by Charlotte Sawyer and Jonty Herman