On Monday, elected female representatives from Student Unions across Ireland came together for a day of training. This event was organised by Women for Election in partnership with the Union of Students in Ireland, as part of their Women in Leadership programme, and sought to empower participants as leaders and role models.
The day started with a session from Women for Election’s Una Power on the importance of gender equality in Student Unions, and team-building. During the session the participants discussed what had motivated them to run for office, and learning from their own experiences to encourage their peers to run in future elections. Emphasis was placed on bringing these women into their teams and networks, so as to equip them with the skills and confidence to run.
Paula Flanagan, a community leader in the NGO sector, took the group through the understanding of resilience and how to tackle feelings that may hold them back from achieving their full potential. The participants shared their experiences of overcoming periods of fear and adversity. At the end of the session they identified those strategies which had helped them, creating a list of top tips for resilience.
We were delighted to welcome former Senator and newly appointed CEO of Asthma Ireland Averil Power to talk to the participants. Drawing on her own experiences as a Sabbatical Officer, Averil stressed the importance of self-management, resilience, and building strong working relationships to achieve your goals while in office. Averil’s advice to the participants was to make the most of the year ahead, and lead by example to inspire their peers.
The final session of the day came from Linda Kelly, who worked with the participants to determine what kind of leaders they would be. Linda, formerly an Equality Officer for the USI, presented those present with the skills to tackle the challenges facing them as newly elected leaders. Through role-play and discussion, the group learned how to deal with difficult situations in a practical manner. Once again it was clear to see that many of the participants had experienced similar challenges, highlighting the importance of shared knowledge in tackling them.
Women for Election would like to thank USI President Annie Hoey and Vice President for Equality & Citizenship Síona Cahill for their work and continued support to female leaders. A big thank you also to Paula Flanagan and Linda Kelly for sharing their expertise, and to Averil Power for inspiring the group! Finally, we were delighted to meet such engaged and strong female Sabbatical Officers, who we wish the best of luck to for the forthcoming year.