Celebrating International Women's Day 2024

Author: Siobhan Flynn

Siobhan Flynn, North East and North Cumbria VCSE Engagement Manager, reflects on an International Women's Day webinar she attended, hosted by the NHS Confederation Health and Care Women Leaders Network.

International Women’s Day (IWD) takes place on March 8th and is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It also provides an opportunity to focus on making a positive difference for women by addressing barriers and inequalities that currently exist for women in society. This year’s theme for IWD is #InspireInclusion.

To celebrate IWD, the NHS Confederation Health and Care Women Leaders Network, hosted a webinar highlighting work underway to progress gender equality and enhance inclusivity for women working in healthcare. Siobhan Flynn, North East and North Cumbria VCSE Engagement Manager and Georgia Morris, Project Support Officer, attended.

The event hosted a range of speakers who shared their own experiences and offered their perspectives on inclusion. This included a video from Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive, NHS England, showcasing the important changes being made to support women in the NHS workforce. 

Shera Chok, GP and chair and founder of the Shuri Network, spoke about the work of the Shuri Network to advance diversity and inclusion in the digital workforce and leadership. Whilst Victoria Komolafe, Professional Digital Advisor (Midwife), Royal College of Midwives, spoke about her positive experience as a graduate of the Shuri Network Digital Fellowship.

Hamid Motraghi, Director of Health Equity and Inclusion, NENC ICB, and Simon Fleming, Orthopaedic hand and wrist surgeon, discussed the importance of utilising their own privileges, asking what women need rather than presuming to know and, my personal favourite, “knowing when to shut up” to create space for other people.   

We heard from Dr. Nighat Arif, GP, NHS/Private, who noted that people didn’t ask about her experience. She shared tips from her own journey to ensure that women’s voices are heard by healthcare professionals.

Finally, Dawn Adams, Head of Yorkshire Ambulance Service Academy and Chair, Women and Allies Network, and Vicky Connelly,  Deputy Chair, Women and Allies Network spoke about their work ensuring the availability of free sanitary products in all female and accessible toilets. Throughout this work, the perspectives of women and their wants/needs were listened to in order to make the most positive difference possible.

A key theme rang clear throughout – listen to women, value our voices.

The VCSE Partnership Programme aims to ensure the VCSE sector is embedded at all levels of the NENC Integrated Care System (ICS), from strategic board level to design and delivery of services in neighbourhoods and localities. The Programme currently hosts eight VCSE sub-groups, including one specifically for VCSE organisations who work with women and/or women and girls experiencing violence. Sign up here.