January 2014

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Vicky Walker hosted a panel including Chine Mbubaegbu, author of Am I Beautiful?, Sarah Smith from Esteem Resource Network and Hannah Jean who is an image consultant, exploring appearance, confidence and the beauty myth. We talked about how we can resist cultural pressures to conform and help younger leaders do the same, examining the voices we absorb that shape our own self image and confidence and asking whether Christian culture helps or hinders us in developing confidence in who we are and how we should present ourselves.

We want GWL to be celebratory rather than competitive so we introduced a new strand celebrating women in leadership. Rachel Jordan, National Mission and Evangelism Advisor to the Church of England, talked about the challenges and opportunities in her role. Her top tip for women in leadership is ‘Just say yes!’

Ann-Marie Wilson talked about her work on Female Genital Mutilation through 28 Too Many which was powerful, passionate and funny at times. She talked about her seven years of preparation from having the vision to end FGM, and getting started and the support she has had from her church. One person commented: ‘This session was HUGELY challenging. Anne Marie was a humorous but humble speaker, who confidently challenged us. She was clear and unafraid to be explicit with the facts. This was educational and vital. It was good that she ended the talk with clear details on how we can respond and helpful that we could finish with prayer.’ Ann-Marie urged us all to do something about FGM – see her website for more info or follow her on twitter

Kiera Phyo facilitated an open-space discussion exploring barriers to leadership. People suggested topics that they would be happy to host a conversation about which included: how to balance work, money and time when the thing that you’re passionate about is not what you do for a job; developing confidence in leadership; imposter syndrome where you feel like you’ll be found out any moment; how to pioneer and get something started; patriarchy, stereotyping and sexism; taking on the authority and leadership that comes with a top job. Some great conversations which we hope will continue.

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