‘Aspiring Women’ Embark on Positive Pathways
A Dundee woman is on a mission to motivate women in hard-to-reach audiences, including BAME communities, who suffer from hardship and disadvantage but aspire to be in a better situation.
Fatima Ramzan, who for the past 25 years, has worked in community-led projects and played a pivotal role in the success of Dundee International Women’s Centre (DIWC), is the newly appointed Project Manager of Aspiring Women, run by Dundee-based Women’s Business Station.
Aspiring Women will support local women from diverse social and cultural backgrounds to develop their enterprise skills, connections and understanding of their rights and choices, empowering them to consider positive pathways such as further education, volunteering, work experience, employment or setting up their own enterprise.
Ethnic minority women are less likely to thrive in employment due to the barriers they face compared to their counterparts, perhaps due to language barriers and a responsibility to put their family first and career second. The pay gap between ethnic minority women and other groups is also its lowest since 2012 at 2.3%.
With the pilot focused on the Dundee community, the free programme will take the women on a journey from self-belief and mindset to enterprise and business skills, helping them create positive pathways and fulfil their potential. The fully-funded programme includes social gatherings and childcare if required.
The 20-week programme launched on Tuesday 1 February 2022, with the first eight weeks – ‘Live Your Best Life’ – focusing on participants’ confidence and self-esteem. The first cohort of 20 delegates come from a range of countries from Pakistan and Morocco to the Philippines and Malawi.
Originally from Kashmir, Pakistan, mother-of-four Fatima, who moved from Yorkshire to Dundee in 1993 said, “Many business-minded people are fortunate enough to have resources, local knowledge and contacts to call on for support and direction. However, pockets of hard-to-reach women in our communities aspire to do more but are under-privileged, with no network to call on. Without support and help, they can quickly spiral into poverty and despair, affecting their families and impacting both mental and physical health.
“Aspiring Women focuses on women from deprived backgrounds who feel isolated or vulnerable. They have skills and a passion, some with the seeds of a business idea, but they’re hampered by a range of barriers. For some, it’s a lack of childcare, finance or time – for others, they live with extended family and can’t get time to themselves to develop a business idea or need a helping hand or to make contacts in a particular area. Through deep-root engagement, we’re going to be that guiding force they need, to help them see the potential and become strong role models for the next generation. We’ll help them become part of the community, build their knowledge, confidence and skills and get going or, at the very least, see that next step and go for it!”
One of the women taking part is Arooj Sarwat, originally from Pakistan. She said, “One of my friends recommended the programme for me because she knew I wanted change in my life. I find this course very inspiring. Through taking part, I hope to be very confident and learn a lot which will help me have a brighter future. I want to build up some skills, definitely confidence and courage which will be a great step forward for my life.”
Originally aiming to support 20 women, the programme was made possible by a £20K donation from Founding Social Sponsor, Dundee business leader and entrepreneur Tim Allan CBE. Mr Allan, owner of Tricorn Capital, is also Chair of V&A Dundee and President of Scottish Chambers of Commerce.
Now, Aspiring Women can support 50 women, having attracted additional funding from construction company McLaughlin & Harvey (£8K), with £10K grants awarded by The Matthew Trust, Northwood Trust and The National Lottery ‘Awards for All’ programme. An additional £8K was raised through Women’s Business Station’s Bauble of Hope campaign, where local businesses sponsored a Christmas bauble before Christmas.
In addition, Overgate has given Aspiring Women a donation in-kind by offering them the use of their top-floor community space Gather throughout 2022. As well as running all programmes from there, Gather will also host a pop-up shop for Women’s Business Station members, allowing them to test the market with their products and services within a prime retail space.
Malcolm Angus, Centre Manager said, “Overgate is pleased to welcome Women’s Business Station into Gather; a new space in the heart of the centre dedicated to community collaborations. The Aspiring Women project aligns well with Overgate’s HOPE campaign which focusses on health, opportunities, partnerships, and education, and through the provision of the Gather space a number of local start-up businesses will be supported within a busy shopping centre environment. We look forward to witnessing their journey in the months ahead and wish Women’s Business Station every success.”
For more information or to apply, email Fatima@businessstation.co.uk or phone 07398 188 698.
NOTE TO EDITORS
For the past 25 years, Fatima Ramzan has worked in community-led projects, empowering women from all over the world to participate and integrate into wider society through ESOL educational programmes, employment and confidence-building.
Fatima was the trainer For VAW “Harmful Practice Workshops” across Scotland where she delivered interactive workshops to raise awareness of various cultural practices, understanding how we can eradicate and bring about change to enhance the lives of women and girls subjected to abuse, violence and other struggles. She actively engaged with Scottish Government planning meetings and supported in creating change in policy for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which resulted in FGM Protection Orders to be put in place for survivors. Fatima is also an experienced as a facilitator delivering Cultural Practice/ Harmful practice/FGM/Safety Net workshops to University students/professionals and community groups around Scotland.
A trained outdoor leader (through Backbone CIC), Fatima has also planned and delivered various outdoor community projects and festivals including the first BAME Dundee Women’s only Cycling Project which supported over 200 women to become confident in learning how to ride a bike.