Mariam has been coming to DIWC since the age of 13, when she joined 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.
What is Dundee International Women’s Centre (DIWC)?
Dundee International Women’s Centre is an organisation dedicated to helping women, particularly those from Black and Ethnic Minority communities, by providing them opportunities to achieve three aims; engagement, education and self-empowerment.
Through engaging with an age demographic from toddlers in the crèche to elderly women in the Bazorg group, the Centre provides activities which support these women to work towards goals that were previously unavailable or subjectively unachievable.
DIWC is an organisation that creates a family for women who are isolated.
How did I get involved?
From the age of 13, I attended the Macara Youth Group within the Centre. Being 22 years of age now, I have volunteered in different roles in 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 old, 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 managerial 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. I have been on the board for 4 years and have continued to learn, understand, and apply 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. Additionally, in the future we would like to expand our organisation by providing services that can help the communities we are trying to target. By accommodating to the needs of our learners, we can create an organisation that is more orientated towards them and achieve a long lasting impact on those individuals. Personally, I intend to remain on the board to try and further increase my skill set, and gain more insight with the ever evolving and changing organisation DIWC is.
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 with an intention to find a mutual decision which best suits the needs of our learners.
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 I am now able to provide useful and interesting opinions that are appreciated and valued by my colleagues. The next challenge was being able to fully understand 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. It became clear what we wanted to achieve, which helped with my own understanding of the organisation.
The challenges now include trying to be in the organisation more and keep up 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 an objective of mine that I constantly try to work on. Although the commitment of being a board member can be time consuming and difficult with other responsibilities, being given the opportunity to make a difference like this has always kept me motivated and grateful.
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 diverse women from a range of communities.
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 witness the difference in the women that attend our centre.