To celebrate International Women’s Day we wanted to share with you how we #BreakTheBias (the 2022 theme) through our female empowerment programme, Empower. On International Women’s Day itself (8 March), the programme will be expanding at Kingston Hub, creating near-to-peer female relationships through the power of dance.
What is Empower?
Since 2016, Student Hubs have matched hundreds of university students with young people at risk of underachieving through Empower. At our Kingston Hub, the programme focuses on near-to-peer female empowerment, with the mentors empowering and inspiring their mentees, boosting their self-esteem, motivation and attainment. This ultimately supports them to reach their potential.
The six week programme pairs trained students with young people, providing a role model of the same gender in Kingston and mixed genders in Southampton. The mentor is given a recommended structure including activities and prompts including themes such as career planning, mental health, goal setting and decision making. However, flexibility is given so that each relationship can develop independently to flourish, offering the young person the bespoke experience they need to thrive. Empower currently runs at our Kingston and Southampton Hubs and in the 2020-21 academic year 100% of our mentors saw increased confidence in decision-making and future aspirations in the mentees they supported.
What is the Empower Dance Project?
The Empower Dance Project is a continuation of our female empowerment programme, not only through mentoring but through liberating and asserting body movements – dance. Although the programme moves away from traditional mentoring it still provides space to create near-to-peer female relationships and role models for the young people.
The Dance lecturer at Kingston University, Stephen, joined forces with Kingston Hub to create a project which fulfils the university students’ academic learning outcomes as well as engaging them in the community. The student team are learning about the social issues which impact women and tackling them through the programme using the creative avenues of dance. With our community partner, Achieving for Children, we are launching the project to reach participants at their Ham Youth Club.
The driving force of the project is to move away from traditional and modern views that objectify, shame or commercialise the female body under self-serving pretexts. Our mission is supporting young women to find true liberation and self-expression in movement and to learn how to take up their space in a room, asserting their presence. The empowerment is remembered on a molecular level, in their bodies.
How will we continue to #BreakTheBias through Empower?
This creative interpretation of Empower has great potential to grow and blossom.
We hope that the next steps for the Empower Dance Project are going to be inspired by the Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO), whose mission is to raise awareness on social issues through illustrative dance. Our Bristol Hub Manager, Sorcha, volunteered with OYO and brought back fond memories of the inspiring experience of storytelling through dance.
At Kingston Hub, we would love to support students and young people to tell inclusive stories of women and young girls in the UK and internationally who are yet to break free from gender inequality and bias. Doing our bit to #BreakTheBias and forge a more inclusive world by empowering and celebrating women in our local communities and across the globe.
To find out more about Empower and how Student Hubs could support your university and community, get in touch with Fiona Walsh, Partnerships and Development Director at email@example.com.