Breaking the Bias: Celebrating women throughout Yorkshire

Dancing with Bora Shabaa

Dancing and laughing with burning stars at Bora Shabaa

Twenty five Congolese women, wearing handmade skirts and dresses, dancing and smiling was the amazing welcome Harriet and Paula received at a special International Women’s Day event hosted by Bora Shabaa Refugee Community Organisation in Hull this week.

Invited to speak, but will no knowledge of what the day involved, our Head of Programmes and HEY Confident Futures Coordinator had a fabulous day being wrapped in African skirts, watching dances, hearing speeches and eating delicious food.

Severine, the Bora Shabaa’s Chairperson is an active leader on our HEY Confident Futures leadership programme and Bora Shabaa have received funding from Two Ridings through our Coronavirus Community Fund.

Harriet was invited to say ‘A couple of words for International Women’s Day’, which she thought was a simple-enough request.

But she quickly realised it’s not easy to explain what it is to be a woman in 2022. The stories she has heard over the past two years have changed her perceptions. Sometimes, she felt, words failed her.

Harriet looked for a quote for women to centre her words around. So many mentioned women ‘shining like stars’. She questioned – Is that what it is to be a woman? But it got her thinking and this is what she said:

“I don’t think we, as women,  shine like a star … we burn like one.

Our energy, passion, fear, happiness, hope, sadness, anger and joy ignites a fire in each of us to make the world a better place.

The respect and awe I have for the women in this room is overwhelming. Every day each of you are like a burning star lighting up those around you.

I can’t define what it is to be like to be woman for everyone here as the intricacies of your story are different to mine and the person sitting next to you.

But I can say that I am proud to stand side by side with you not just on International Women’s Day but every single day of the year, in the hope that we make a kinder, fairer, gentler world that lets us be just who we need to be.”

And then Harriet and Paula carried on dancing, eating, chatting and having a great time. So much so, getting away to a later meeting was difficult.

As they left, Harriet was told “When you invest in Severine as a leader, you are investing in a whole community and you allow us to feel happy and safe.”

Hearing such words was life affirming, because that is what the HEY Confident Futures leadership programme is all about.

Harriet and Paula came away happy and laughing and feeling very honoured to be able to celebrate alongside such amazing women.

Celebrating with women in York at the Mansion House 

Later on that evening Jan, our CEO, celebrated International Women’s Day in York with a group of great women hosted by the Lady Mayoress at Mansion House.

She caught up with old friends, like IDAS, Kyra and York Women’s Counselling , all women’s projects supported by Two Ridings in the past, and enjoyed hearing  from Emily at Mumbler.

Another great opportunity champion all that women do throughout the region and #BreakTheBias.