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Occupying Spaces – Taking Places

publication date: 22 April 2003

Women connect were asked by WMWRN to make a contribution to their conference in Birmingham at Birmingham City Council House.


Councillor Muhammad Afzal Cabinet member – Equalities and Human Resources, BCC

Jackie Russell – Gender Equality Manager, Equalities Division BCC

Professor Beatrix Campbell – visiting Professor of Women’s Studies University of Newcastle Upon Tyne

Deborah Hart – Microsyster, London ICT, women and e-democracy/government

Sue Webb – Women Connect

The day was inspirational and reflected many of the values and aspirations that summarised Women Connect. 

 Prof. Campbell’s interesting talk described community groups as creative/inventive/organic as well as sometimes having the capacity to be inert and insular. She spoke about how to galvanise the power of women’s networks and how to get local authorities to engage with these constituents. The question is about how to embed in local authorities a duty to assess its own work and achievements on equality, but also to timetable them. The groups in turn are to do more than rely on their own experience. They have a responsibility to research as well as acknowledge that they can also be defensive, fixed and complacent. They need to start to be disciplined about producing policies – assessments and measuring their achievements too. All this would produce, she hoped, an effective relationship between the two.

 Deborah Hart informed every one of interesting websites to do with e-government and described the situation in Britain at the moment concerning the government policy of enabling every citizen to have access to the Internet in a public space by 2005.

 Sue Webb gave an interesting talk and presentation detailing our project and then described how groups that were interested could come on board. Comments fed back to us described her talk as ‘human’, grounded and real.

The Community Representative Programme had its presentation hour with lots of interesting snippets of ordinary women’s lives that had been empowered by doing the course.

All in all an interesting day, good food, interesting ideas and wonderful delegates.

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