The time is absolutely right for a dynamic approach which fully supports, integrates and learns from women centred working. Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call to make progress around gender.
The women centred approach should appeal to all of us who are working to address gender disparity
and counter the hostile environment in the UK.
Women centred working has been set up to share good practice, change thinking and promote effective, women centred approaches on a wider national basis. It is an initiative to encourage the design and delivery of more effective services for women who are facing multiple disadvantages. Women centred ways of working can get to the root causes of complex problems by integrating and tailoring services around women’s specific needs. There is powerful evidence of the effectiveness of this approach from existing projects in local communities.
Women centred working framework
Women Centred Working was initially a WomenCentre project funded by the Lankelly Chase Foundation’s Promoting Change Programme. There have been three previous booklets in our Women Centred Working series: 1) Defining An Approach; 2) Showcasing Women Centred Solutions; 3) Taking Forward Women Centred Solutions.
Over the past two years, WomenCentre had the opportunity to work as part of Connecting Opportunities to support the design and delivery of services that better respond to the distinct experiences and needs of women migrants.
Working across the Leeds City Region, Connecting Opportunities has supported women migrants, along with young people and men, with developing skills needed to work and volunteer; improving English; feeling more part of and getting engaged in the communities; and increasing confidence and well-being. Connecting Opportunities was set up to acknowledge that the skills, strengths and potential of new migrants would remain untapped if we did not take action to address some of the many barriers they can face. Central to this approach was the recognition that women migrants may face additional barriers and challenges.
Women migrants have skills and qualifications yet face multiple barriers
Every year, women migrants work, study, volunteer and make progress in their education and careers as well as contribute extensively in our communities. Through migration, many women will become more economically independent and gain broader freedoms. On the other hand, many women also feel gender stereotypical notions about women’s place in society. Women migrants often face multiple and complex gendered challenges which prevent them from making full use of opportunities and services available to them. Additionally, labour divisions and the structure of the labour market still remain highly gendered and can confine women to ‘feminine’ sectors – those which are either unpaid or valued less than other work.
Women centred ways of working ultimately intends to bring about change that can transform the quality of life, enhance opportunities, and remove additional barriers and challenges which some women migrants have to face.
Women centred working with women migrants
WomenCentre’s work on Connecting Opportunities was carried out through reflection, learning and skills sharing with project partners. We considered how to put into practice and review women centred ways of working approaches within their services. We asked our partners for creativity and openness and we didn’t impose tight guidelines and baselines.
The result of this shared cooperation comes together in WomenCentre’s report ‘Applying Women Centred Principles’, which outlines six principles of women centred working
Applying Women Centred Principles
We want our report to be a practical go-to resource, which is accessible and feels achievable – it includes practical examples, as well as case studies, connected to each of the principles. We hope it will contribute to more women centred services which will benefit staff, volunteers, peers and women migrants in our communities.
Would you like explore how to be more women centred?
We hope that the report will inspire you, challenge you and encourage you and others to be creative and innovative in making your service delivery and practice more women centred. If you would like further information on women centred working, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Connecting Opportunities work with new migrants to develop their skills and opportunities to find work and be part of the local community, in West Yorkshire and parts of North Yorkshire. The project is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund. It is part of the Building Better Opportunities programme.
WomenCentre provides holistic, one-stop services at our centres in Huddersfield, Dewsbury and Halifax and in the community. Our wide-ranging services include emotional and practical support on issues such as debt, benefits, mental or physical health, domestic violence, counselling, training and development and much more. Visit womencentre.org.uk/about/