Dr Joy Tweed and Dr Lilian Miles from the School of Organisations, Economy and Society, shared their research which explores the extent to which Social Enterprises in the UK help empower women through employment at an event hosted by Social Enterprise UK.

Joy and Lilian
Joy Tweed and Lilian Miles

The informal lunchtime session on 8 March gave Dr Miles and Dr Tweed, who are leading the research in collaboration with colleagues from the School, a chance to share some findings with invited social enterprises on International Women’s Day.

Their research builds on recent British Council Report ‘Activist to entrepreneur: the role of social enterprise in supporting women’s empowerment’ (2017), which commends the potential of social enterprises in empowering women, including through employment.

There was a lively conversation, where participants discussed what empowerment meant in practice, and how each of the social enterprises supported women’s empowerment. Stories were shared of how women are gaining greater roles in occupations, even in those traditionally seen as those dominated by men – such as in construction.

The value of having female role models was highlighted in the discussion, as well as the need for work hours which are suitable for women. Additionally, participants spoke about how training and development are seen as key to women’s empowerment and how social enterprises can work with society to change attitudes around the value of women’s work and their roles.

Talking about the event, Dr Tweed said: “The stories we heard from the social enterprises at the social lunch were inspiring – but we all agreed there was more that needed to be done in terms of creating a more equal society. The social enterprise sector can contribute to that and we look forward to working further with SE UK to explore the ways we can help support.”

Dr Miles added: “It was not a coincidence that we discussed the theme of women’s empowerment on International Women’s Day! There was a strong feeling among social enterprises who attended that we can create a momentum which has long-lasting effects. They wanted to explore what good practice which promotes women’s empowerment looks like. Many offered examples of such practice. We look forward to creating further dialogue and action to impact gender empowerment practice in the social enterprise sector.”

Find out more about social enterprise at the University of Westminster.

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