International Women’s Day 2019: #BalanceforBetter

8th March 2019

As part of our celebrations of 2019 International Women’s Day's theme #BalanceforBetter we’re highlighting some of the amazing women who work with us here at Raleigh and how crucial they are at each stage of our programmes! We speak to them about their work, why International Women's Day is important to them, and what advice they have for young women who want to get involved in international development.

What’s your role at Raleigh?

Marie Kwirine – Operations Coordinator, Tanzania

I oversee the smooth running of projects and ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our amazing volunteers. This role gives me the chance to see the tremendous change in a lot of young women who volunteer on our programmes. They leave us ready to do something that will impact the rest of the world.

Kayleigh Down – Country Expedition Manager, Costa Rica

I’m responsible for managing our Expeditions. I get to pass on development knowledge and expertise to new groups of volunteers. I also make sure we have the best quality projects and that volunteers have amazing, life changing experiences.

Ruth Lewis – ICS Training Officer, UK

I deliver training to inspire young people to become active citizens. I’m also a Young Women’s Trust Champion, participating in a range of activities outside of work including campaigning, promoting services and helping raise money to support disadvantaged young women in England and Wales.

Shambhavi Poudel – Youth Development Officer, Nepal

Playing a key role in supporting Raleigh Nepal’s Youth Development Strategy, I lead on national volunteer recruitment, providing training and support throughout programmes. I also lead on developing the Raleigh alumni network in Nepal.

Katie Batchelor – Deputy Operations Manager, Nepal

I volunteer as a Deputy Operations Manager looking after five amazing teams in the Gorkha region. I wear a lot of different hats, but training the volunteer team leaders in facilitation, incident management, and constant problem solving is my favourite part.

Jaskirat Mann – Alumni Advisory Group Co-Chair, UK

Having spent 3 months with Raleigh in Tanzania, I now co-chair the Alumni Advisory Group that seeks to establish and nurture the amazing network of alumni we have, both in the UK and further afield. My passion for people and pro-active, positive nature is why I’m here! My focus on the future and the ability to think critically and creatively has also been important.

Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

Marie Kwirine

International Women’s Day is a major day for me because it celebrates the achievements of women all around the world. We are fearless and amazing! I think it’s also important for men everywhere, because they can celebrate this day by taking ground-breaking steps towards gender equality.

Kayleigh Down

Gender equality is a topic very close to my heart. Women and girls are still being systematically disadvantaged and deprived of the same privileges afforded to men.  International Women’s Day presents the perfect opportunity to champion the need for women and men to come together to fight for gender equality.

Ruth Lewis

International Women’s Day is a chance to reflect and celebrate women’s achievements from all over the world whilst recognising women still face discrimination, marginalisation, exclusion, a lack of equal opportunities, violence and everyday sexism.

Shambhavi Poudel

This day has its own significance to me as I can reflect upon how far we’ve come across in terms of gender equality. It’s a day to celebrate achievements of oneself and those around you. To celebrate each one of us, who fight for equality at work, at home and everywhere else. This day allows us to remember and celebrate the fact that we are all equal – no one is any less.

Katie Batchelor

International Women’s Day allows us to celebrate all the brave women in the past, who have created opportunities for future generations.

Jaskirat Mann

International Women’s Day is important to me because it’s a time to pause and reflect on the successes and achievements of women in the past year and across history, whether that’s in STEM, development, the arts or politics. I’m especially impressed by 15 year old Greta Thunberg who gave a speech at the UN Climate Change COP24 Conference. It’s also a time to celebrate each other and the amazing women in our own lives! On the other hand, it is a time to look at the difficulties, dangers and obstacles women across the world face and think about what we can do to contribute to a better future for all.

What would you say to any young women thinking of working or volunteering in international development?  

Marie Kwirine

If we want change to happen and to create our own seat at the table, all women around the world need to get involved and work for want we want. It isn’t enough to simply believe in it. We must work at it. Together. Starting now! Volunteering is one of the ways to do that!

Kayleigh Down

It’s not as common for girls or women to be encouraged to be ‘adventurous’ as it is for men. I know many female volunteers have come up against barriers in wanting to pursue volunteering in an international context, but don’t let that put you off. The sense of accomplishment you experience is unprecedented.

Ruth Lewis

Know your worth! Don’t be afraid of who you are and be proud of where you come from. Be active in your local community and volunteer on a national level first, this will give you the experience, skills and knowledge to become a global leader and make a difference in the world.

Shambhavi Poudel

Volunteering might not always be easy or a good time. Being in communities and seeing people not practicing or understanding equality will make you angry, also passionate and courageous. This passion and courage that you discover, and what you do with it, will translate into change. Change not just for yourself or the community but change for all of us and the generations to come

Katie Batchelor

Do it and never look back! It’s amazing to see positive impact made every single day. The environment is challenging but super rewarding and the support you get from your team is inspirational.

Jaskirat Mann

Be brave and just do it! Taking a risk, challenging yourself and taking a step out of your comfort zone is such a fantastic opportunity for growth. It is an invaluable chance to learn not just about yourself, but others and the world around you. The field of international development really needs more women of all backgrounds as drivers of positive change. Our voices, our experiences and our knowledge and skills can bring about the change we want to see and move the world forward in the right direction.

Visit the official International Women’s Day 2019 website for more information about this year’s #BalanceforBetter campaign and how you can get involved in creating a more 

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