Mariam has been coming to the DIWC since the age of 13, to the Macara Youth Group. Through opportunities offered by the Centre, she went from being a Youth Board Member to becoming a Trustee and shares her role and the challenges she faces.
Who are the Dundee International Women’s Centre (DIWC)?
The Dundee International Women’s Centre is an organisation dedicated to helping women in the Black and Ethnic Minority community, by providing them opportunities and classes to achieve three aims; engagement, education and empowerment.
Through engaging with an age demographic from toddlers in the crèche to elderly women in the Bazorg group, the centre provides activities which help to develop these women and allow them to work towards goals that were previously unavailable or subjectively unachievable.
The DIWC is an organisation that creates a family for women who are isolated, lonely or simply need social interaction.
How did I get involved?
From the age of 13, I have attended the Macara Youth Group within the centre. Being 20 years of age now, I have been within the centre for a number of years.
One of the opportunities the centre offers is for a youth member to sit on the board as a Youth Board Member. I was offered this opportunity at 17 years and first started on the board at 18. In this position as a Youth Board Member, it allows the young person to learn about the organisation from a more strategic and operational perspective. It also provides them with an opportunity at a young age to work alongside professional women who provide them with insight into the organisation as well as their relevant fields of work.
After a year and a half, my role was changed to a full Board Member, meaning I could make decisions about all aspects of the organisation as a whole I have been on the board for 2 ½ years, learning, understanding, and applying the new skills I have acquired.
Our plans for the future are to carry on with the work we do, by trying constantly to reach out to more women in the black and ethnic minority community. In addition in the future, we would like to expand our organisation both locally and beyond that. In local term, this means to increase centre size to accommodate the growing number of learners at the centre, as well as trying to provide more opportunities for them.
In terms of beyond that, we are currently trying to create a replica of our organisation in written form. By doing this we can help women in other areas set up and create women’s centres dedicated to helping BEM women. By doing this we promote the outreach to individuals both in Dundee and beyond.
What’s My Role?
My role on the board of trustees is to act as a board member in order to make strategic decisions for the organisation. I work alongside other trustees to discuss these issues and try to arrive at a mutual decision.
In addition, I have taken a lead on producing a written replica for the organisation. This involves working with all departments of the organisation to understand every single part of the organisation so that we can create this document.
What Are The Challenges?
The challenges for me have evolved with my time on the board. Initially, due to being very young, the challenges included voicing my opinion and having the confidence to discuss matters arising in meetings. As time went on this confidence built and now I am able to do this.
The next challenge was being fully understanding of what the organisation was and what we represented as a group. This became clearer once we as an organisation collectively created our vision, mission, aims and objectives and became clear on what we wanted to achieve.
The challenges now include trying to be in the organisation more and keep up with everyone, with new individuals joining, as well as trying to attend as many events within the centre as possible. I feel it is important to be personally involved in the centre in order to be an effective board member. This is a constant objective of mine that I try to work on.
Why Do I Do It?
My initial reason for becoming a trustee was to increase my experience and I saw it as a great opportunity. In addition to this, I was very passionate about equality for women and particularly with helping those women in BEM community.
Once I had become a trustee I realised the potential to help so many individuals and it inspired me to stay on the board and genuinely make a difference. I feel that by being a trustee I help to achieve a common goal of helping women become the best version of themselves. I continue to be passionate about what we do, and we see the difference in the women that attend the centre.