Dumfries and Galloway IJB are developing and leading a support and mentoring programme for women in leadership.
For too long there has been much debate and discussion regarding the sheer commonsense in having more women in decision making roles within society but it goes further than this. If we are to meet the demands of Integration we need to nurture our existing workforce and grow our future workforce, empower people living with long term health conditions to self manage, reduce health inequalities and strengthen our communities. These goals can be achieved and faster if we provide the means for half the population to ignite their own authentic identity, power and leadership.
At certain stages throughout my own life there have been women who have been invaluable in strengthening my resolve starting with my mum who instilled in me to always believe in myself and never give up! This has become an anchor at times throughout my life when I have questioned my ability, decision making and even my motivation to keep going. Being in a leadership role does not prevent life changing experiences visiting you such as illness and disease physical and mental, loss and bereavement, while at the same time others are looking to you for direction which can be very isolating and sometimes scary. Even when you think you have seen it all something may come along that you didn’t plan for, expect or feel you can cope with. It is at times like these that the support from other women mentors is invaluable strengthening resilience and restoring belief in yourself.
Most women will seek out the companionship and support of other women at the times throughout life of celebration, learning, change of role, grief and loss to name but a few. The template already exists its in our DNA all that needs to happen is to harness this woman on woman approach, build on its strengths, develop our “doulla’s or mentors” who will work with women on an equal basis and give birth to our new leaders, workforce, innovators and communities.
If more women are to become leaders, and by doing so ,support other women to become all they can be, there needs to be more than lip service paid to the conundrum of creating a level playing field for women.
There is an untapped resource just waiting for a woman centred approach to unleash that potential, a coproduced mentoring programme across all ages and demographics would be the tool that would unlock this. It must be without barriers, the right connection at the right time for the most profound change. It should last as long as it needs to and provide the mechanism for relationships that are dynamic, truthful and equal. This needs to use a language that all women can hear, which will encourage them to speak plainly and speak their truth accepting vulnerability as a strength which adds to their transformation and enables women to have each others backs. By championing the “elder” women in our communities based on wisdom and not just age – communities can be connected in a way that could be transformational, using the amazing skills, experiences and expertise on a woman to woman basis.
So where do we go from here.
The recent Unleashing Courageous Leadership in Women At Every Age event has lit the touch paper when we listened to the inspirational women who shared their leadership journey. From that event Dumfries and Galloway are taking the first steps towards a coproduced regional mentoring resource for women .
Now is the time for those who hold the purse strings to stop talking, take a risk , take action to invest in women and in the future. Please step forward, join us and answer this call to action!
Penny Halliday, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway IJB.