10th Apr 2018
I was so excited to begin the course, I didn’t know what to expect and was quite nervous but, wow, what a lovely group of people!
The event opened by all mentees and mentors chatting and getting to know one another. I met some really wonderful women from a large cross-section of Welsh society, we spoke about our ambitions, aims and fields of work. It was a lovely introduction to the event, getting to see different women making great changes in their fields. Everyone was really warm and friendly. You could really feel a sense of women wanting to support other women. I was really glad to be part of this new network and glad that this type of network exists for Welsh women.
We then heard speeches from a wide range of women working in public life in Wales, household names from my childhood, all sharing their advice and experiences of being women working in public life. Incredibly inspiring! The speeches were really honest, they shared with us the specific struggles and barriers they had faced. The overwhelming take-home message from the mentors speeches was that, they would have benefited from a programme like the WEN mentee programme when they were starting out. It was evident to me just how lucky women of my generation are to have opportunities through organisations like WEN to help us out in beginning our careers.
A really important part of the day for me was when we got to know one another a bit better by sharing some of our own personal stories, it was a really great way for us to bond in a short space of time. We had so many different experiences, all coming from different walks of life, yet all facing similar barriers to public life.
To end the session we were given a wonderful talk by Catrin Stevens [Historian at the Women’s Archive of Wales] on the history of the women’s movement in Wales. From the philosophy of women’s suffrage, to women in the factories of South Wales and their representation, to today. This was probably my favourite part of the day, as I realised we very rarely hear women from Welsh history, this is half the problem. I realised that we, the first cohort of WEN’s mentorship programme can change this. We can be the people who start shinning a light on the brilliant work done by women in Wales.
What am I looking forward to as a mentee?
As Rupi Kaur says in the poem in the title of this blog, the thing I am most looking forward to as a mentee on this programme is creating and using this new network of women in Wales – to help one-another. I want the next cohort of women who come after us to be able to tap into us and our skills, and likewise now I would like our mentors to be able to offer us this guidance and network also. Welsh public life moves in small circles, which I think is a great advantage for young people to try and tap into. With programmes like WEN we can really help make women – future leaders to feel comfortable in public life and know that they can take up space, just like the women who came before them.