This post was written by Rhoda Mitchell, Team Leader and Women Lead YYC Coordinator at the Women’s Centre.
If more women saw themselves as leaders, what sort of difference could they make?
Every Thursday night in Spring, a group of diverse women came together to answer this, and other questions. These women were a part of Cohort 2 of Women Lead YYC, a leadership program run by the Women’s Centre, which focuses on equipping women with the skills and connections they identify as important in their leadership journeys. In Women Lead YYC Cohort 2, our group came together once per week for six weeks to explore what leadership means to them.
We know that barriers exist for women in society, and these barriers often mean that there are less women in leadership positions and in decision making positions. We also know that there are many women leaders in our communities and many women who want the tools and connections to strengthen their leadership capabilities.
What is Women Lead YYC?
Women Lead YYC is a six-week program designed to support women who want to lead, influence or participate in collective action in order to improve their community. This program explores mindsets, leadership approaches and communication strategies that boost the chances of successfully influencing change.
This May, 17 women with diverse interests and levels of experience as community leaders came together to be a part of Women lead YYC. The program began by asking the question “How Will I Lead?” We took time to evaluate what leadership qualities each woman in our group might possess, and looked at how each can contribute to their community, in their own way. Incredible women from the community come in and facilitate sessions on a variety of topics. Developing our community vision, reflecting on root causes and potential, identifying a spectrum of allies and exploring action plans we all touched on.
One highlight of the program was a ‘Living Library’ in which participants were able to hear from amazing women leaders in our community. In a ‘Living Library’ participants are able to ‘check out’ a person instead of a book and ask ‘almost anything’. A special thanks to our incredible volunteer ‘living books’- Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes, Maxine Parris, Tove Engebretsen, and Kerry Lynn Okita for sharing their experiences of leadership, community activism, and allowing us to learn from their stories.
What Women Lead Cohort 2 participants have to say:
The 17 incredible women who took part in Women Lead YYC Cohort 2 told us that they feel more confident in their leadership abilities after completing the course. Many shared that the course clarified their vision, for the ways in which they can work for change, as well as actions that they could take to facilitate change processes in their communities. One woman who took part in Cohort 2 had the following to say about her experience:
“Women Lead YYC was a place of sharing, support and laughter. It was incredible, because it connected me to women I may not have connected with otherwise. We are each so passionate about so many different things. The diversity in these passions is invaluable.”
We would like to thank the Status of Women Alberta for the support that made this program possible. Due to the success of the program, Women Lead YYC, Cohort 3, will run in January 2019. Applications will be available starting Nov. 1. The deadline to apply will be Nov. 15th. Email Rhoda@womenscentrecalgary.org for more information!