21 local women open their ‘next chapter’ with book launch & exhibition
THE stories and personal journeys of 21 inspirational women have been captured in a book and photographic exhibition launched in the Long Gallery in Parliament Buildings today.
“You Must Be the Change You Want to See in the World" is a community project which hopes to inspire women and girls to share their own stories, document their own legacy and work to effect change in their communities.
It is the culmination of an 18 month project, known as The Next Chapter, which has seen women, living across Belfast, Lisburn and Castlereagh, become actively involved in community, public and political life as a result of their participation.
In June 2018 over 50 women from the area came together to participate in The Next Chapter as part of a civic empowerment project building positive relations between women from different communities and backgrounds in Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic of Ireland.
The project is delivered by Politics Plus, together with partners Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) and Irish Rural Link, It is funded through the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Match-funding for The Next Chapter project is provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
The Belfast, Lisburn and Castlereagh Chapter are one of ten women’s groups across the region. In the book they recount their shared journey of personal development, friendship and cultural diversity and their development of a greater understanding of gender equality in areas such as peace and reconciliation, politics and public life.
Susan Glass, NICVA Project Coordinator for The Next Chapter said: “This inspirational and diverse group of women decided that they each had a story to tell and wanted their voices to be heard. They created a safe, inclusive space that enabled discourse and fresh ideas, which has culminated in the publication of their book and photographic exhibition today.”
Guest speaker Kellie Armstrong MLA and Deputy Chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly Women’s Caucus said: “The Next Chapter project has exceeded expectations. The objective was to empower women to encourage them to step forward into leadership roles in the community, business and politics. Participants have grown in confidence and understand how important it is for their voices to be heard around the boardroom table and in local politics. I look forward to meeting more of these inspiring women as they progress in their careers and personal development.”
Politics Plus Programmes Manager Mirjam Bader said: “The community project has been very much their own from conception through to the launch event today. Their journey through The Next Chapter project has given them the confidence to achieve this.”
Una McKernan, NICVA Deputy Chief Executive said: “We have seen participants joining formal politics, running for council elections (and being elected), becoming directors of voluntary boards and taking part in policy consultations and decision making. This project is a true legacy and congratulations to the women on this great achievement and for making a difference for women in their communities.”
The exhibition will hang in The Long Gallery in Parliament Buildings, Stormont until 23rd December and will travel to schools and community groups throughout 2020, where the authors hope that their stories will inspire other women and girls.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- A number of the women will be available for interview and can be contacted through Susan Glass firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Next Chapter is a Peace IV funded project, which has invited women from all over Northern Ireland and the border counties in the Republic of Ireland to take part in a project to establish new cross-community and cross-border networks of women’s groups working to progress better understandings and representation for gender equality in areas such as peace and reconciliation, politics and public life.
- The Belfast, Lisburn and Castlereagh Next Chapter is 1 of 10 Hubs established across Northern Ireland and the border counties in the Republic of Ireland (Belfast, Lisburn & Castlereagh, Enniskillen, Mid Ulster, Foyle, Newry, Newtownabbbey, Cavan, Monaghan, Co Donegal and Louth).
- For further information on The Next Chapter contact Liz Beaton at Politics Plus