Being a woman living and coming from a society that favours men over women, always giving men the lead either for religious or cultural reason. It was very hard for me to represent myself as women. There is always a challenge to get my voice heard. Working with the British Council has been a shift for me personally when I got introduced to EDI. Working in an environment appreciates and understands the importance of gender representation in the workplace. An environment not only believes in the gender role in the work place and how it gives opportunity to share insight and best practises, but also encourages the whole organisation to implement these values and influence our partners to work towards them. EDI has been a crucial part of the projects I deliver in country, making sure that gender balance has been taken into consideration in all activities. It is not only about having EDI within the workplace but leveraging and fostering inclusion is always the key to achieve this.
All of above made passtionated about Springboard which is an life skills and empowering woman programme. I led on this since 2009, discovering talented and inspiring women to be role models and to train other females on lot of important skills and make sure that this get cascaded nationally in Qatar. This programme success is representing my personal success on the stigma in the society alongside the success to our organisation.
As a woman, I am aware that more leadership roles within this organisation are populated by men and I believe there are several reasons for this and not just unconscious bias.
I believe the British Council is taking active steps (there are quite a few initaitives outside of the UK especially) to expose and address this issue and thefore I expect that in time, the gender ratio across all bands and specialisms will change to reflect the cultures in which we operate. And hopefully the changes we implement internally will flow outwards to influence the partners we work with and the cultures we engage with.
The British Council is generally perceived as a Pro- women organisation . This, i believe is because there tends to be more women employees than men within the organisation . However, this train of thought tends to change when you go up the ladder. Most of the senor positions within the British Council are held by men . This therefore means that majority of the women and in entry- level and middle – level positions .
This then begs the question : ” Is British Council pro- women – based on the total number of women employees across the board, or is British Council NOT pro- women – based on the percentage of women employees in senior positions.
From Marsabit to Berkshire- Adeela’s story
“When you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Adeela is a great example of the universe collaborating to give her what she wanted . Having defied tradition to finish not only her primary education, but her secondary education too, Adeela is a beacon of hope to thousands of Rendile girls who dare to dream. Born in the Rendile community of Northern Kenya, Adeela defied all odds to become only the fourth female in her community to graduate with a Master’s degree.
Speaking to British Council, Adeela who recently returned to Kenya from the UK after completing her Master’s degree at University of Reading, describes her experience in the UK as “an eye opener and a dream come true.”
As is customary in the Rendile community, it is unheard of for the girl child to go to school and it is mandatory for them to get circumcised at the age of 9 years and get married off shortly thereafter. Adeela, who received her first marriage proposal in class seven, was so determined to get an education that she made a pact with her father to let her finish form four, after which she would definitely get married.
However, a marriage and family life immediately after secondary school did not kill her ambition to further her education and she still proceeded to get an Advanced Diploma and a Bachelor’s Degree.
Adeela stumbled upon an advert for a scholarship programme in the local dailies and decided to give the application a try. Out of 700 applicants, 17 candidates made it to the final selection and comprised of 6 female and 11 male with a diverse representation of ethnicity from Kenya. Adeela was one of the successful 10 scholars supported by the scholarship scheme in the scheme’s first year of operation in Kenya. The first batch of scholars are just returning back to Kenya after an intense 12 months of study and with great plans for the future of both their communities and the country in general.
On her UK experience, she cites her most exceptional experience as the application and use of ICT in the learning process, a lifeline milestone for a girl who has grown up in remote areas with cultural roadblocks. “I loved the technological experience” she says . She also highlights the practical approach to learning, which ensured maximum participation and ease of understanding concepts. Interaction with classmates from all over the world gave her experience a rich cultural dimension and gave her engagements a totally new perspective. Adeela left her four children and spouse in Kenya and immersed herself in the university life in the UK.
As expected, Adeela would like to return to her community and empower the girl child. She has great ambitions in implementing projects that will give an avenue to her people to improve their options in life. “I want to enlighten the world. I want to enrich the lives of the Kenyans from the remote communities. I want to create awareness and let the people know of the other options that life has to offer. I want to be a point of reference to those who are still sceptical about the value of education. “
What is your parting shot? We ask. “Let every young person know that it is possible to overcome obstacles and achieve anything in life if you want it badly enough.”
— This story has been anonymised prior to publication, please contact Paul Gibbs for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org —
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