Thank you!

Dear DivaManc Sisters and Brothers,

First of all a HUGE and long overdue thank you for your support over the last year and in particular at the event on 10th March, I was rather overwhelmed to be honest by people's contributions and generosity on the day and in the lead up, really encouraging. People's down to earth approach, rolling up your sleeves straight away to help out, was much appreciated. Exemplified by Donna Hall, Chief Exec of Wigan Council, a brilliant DivainAction, who arrived early, bearing beautiful gifts of appreciation and immediately got stuck in shifting tables. The noticeable lack of ego or pretence was refreshing and gives me great confidence in the future of Greater Manchester.

I'm personally at a point where I need to work out where to focus my energies and we have reached a similar crossroads as DivaManc. I'd really appreciate an open conversation if that is possible to explore and clarify what next with you? Happy to open up to others who've not yet joined in our DivaManc journey. I've attempted to summarise where I and DivaManc are currently at below!

Current focus and vision

In light of the Mayoral election and GE my attention, and our collective attention as DivaManc, has focused over the last couple of months on building support and relationships with GM's political leaders in the hope they will help act as champions for equality and work with us collaboratively. As a start, we are delighted that the four main mayoral candidates and now a growing number of the parliamentary candidates have signed up to the DivaManc pledges for gender equality.

Through DivaManc, Parliament Project, HappenTogetherCIC and my personal experiences (as activist, coach and facilitator) I've also been looking further into the different party structures and processes to better understand what is and isn't working, what can be done and ways to support the adoption and embedding of more facilitative and coaching approaches at scale. Helped by the recent research and reports by Fawcett, LGIU and IPPR which we've sought to support.

I loved reading your contribution to the recent DevoConnect blog, you summarised what is needed so brilliantly and succinctly! With different hats on I've been looking at ways to support progress across each of the three key themes you highlighted. What you said resonated deeply.

Really welcome your grounded insight and vision.

Post GE2017 the intention is to seek broader support for the DivaManc pledges across GM community and voluntary sector and build our links with the broad and brilliant array of women's sector organisations and projects across GreaterManchester. The hope is to then bring together women, grassroots activists, CVSE organisations and leaders, business sector and our political allies and interested parties across GM to look at how we co-design a shared action plan that can help address the three key themes you refer to.

As DivaManc we also need to consider our own governance and resourcing to ensure that DivaManc lives and breathes it’s DIVA values (diverse, inclusive, vibrant and accountable) and can sustainably grow. We are looking to hold an open event on 25 July to explore together and I hope to follow this up with some on-line lunch time sessions to facilitate progress through collaboration and working groups drawing on action learning and working out loud principles.

Ambitious perhaps but I think GM houses all the creativity, energy, intelligence and potential needed! Our DivaManc journey has highlighted the quality and quantity of groups, activities, people supporting gender equality across GM and I'm conscious that we've only touched the surface. The need seems to be for a framework for more co-ordinated and collaborative participation and influence across GM which genuinely draws on women's voices and skills across all 10 boroughs and across all sectors. I'd love to help facilitate the co-production of such a model/strategy.

I believe, that a new co-produced model for women's voice, participation and power needs to be developed within a new framework for diverse and inclusive participation and leadership in 'Our GM' more broadly to address under representation across numerous communities of interest to include BAME, disabled and LGBT communities. I, and others, have formed another collaborative, to look at how we make this happen, how we shed our grey overcoats and support human growth within a 'whole-self city region'. Once again there are so many strengths to draw on from across Greater Manchester, the potential feels huge but requires good design, coordination and collaboration.

In sisterhood and solidarity,


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