Savera UK Chair, Aislinn O’Dwyer: I #ChooseToChallenge…

The theme of this International Women’s day is to choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. This challenges us to choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements so that together, we can work to create a more inclusive world. International Women’s day is a global day celebrating the social-economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

I write this at a time when we have all had a really challenging year. It is a time for reflection, and also for looking forward, with hope and optimism. It’s hard to believe that this time, last year, we had just celebrated International Women’s Day, and we were about to enter a year of the pandemic, with lockdowns, being separated from family and loved ones, the huge toll of deaths, which the country has endured, This past year has highlighted the disproportionate effect that COVID-19 has had on women and those from black and minority ethnic groups. It further highlighted the huge inequalities that are already present in our society. The pandemic brought many challenges for women – from job losses to a rise in domestic abuse, let alone the pressures of homeschooling.

Women have stood at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, community organisers, innovators, and some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders combating this pandemic.

Women leaders and women’s organisations have demonstrated their skills, knowledge and networks to effectively lead in the COVID-19 response and recovery. Savera UK also has a hugely talented women leader, Afrah Qassim, CEO, and a dedicated team of women staff. All of them have worked tirelessly to support the clients who have come to Savera UK, in increasing numbers during the pandemic, looking for help and support at this difficult time. Our efforts have been helped by the use of our networks and partnerships to deliver high-quality care to all. The one-to-one support service adapted to the changing circumstances, as we moved in and out of lockdown; our events and training moved online; our Savera UK Youth mastering the art of the blog and webinar…But we kept going because that’s what women do. Personally, and on behalf of the Board, I want to thank each, and every, staff member, for doing what they do, so very well, for Savera UK. Without them, Savera UK would not exist.

As I move into this year celebrating women, I will continue to collaborate and develop key partnerships. I will continue to celebrate and uplift women. I will encourage my family and friends to support women’s organisations, and I will think about and actively plan what I can do as I Choose to Challenge. This year, let’s all Choose to Challenge. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Please join me, in this quest.

Written by Aislinn O’Dwyer

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