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Women100 works toward making Brussels a better place for women
More than 100 women came together in Brussels at the weekend to discuss building bridges and breaking down barriers that women in the city face every day.
Women100 is a network working to connect women around Brussels with opportunities and each other by giving them the resources, connections and the voice to do so.
“It’s basically an initiative that springs from a number of different strings,” Joanna Maycock, one of the initiators of the organisation, tells The Bulletin. “It’s really the idea that we need to build stronger cohesion across the different diverse communities living in Brussels.”
The idea to create such a network came about around two years ago, but in the past six months, the group has been working and planning toward this first event. This event was a test to see if there was an interest in their ideas and plans, according to Maycock.
All the women who created this event are professionals who did all of this in their so-called “free time”, pooling their various professional skills to bring it together.
The network works through three lenses. The lens of Brussels, which covers participation specifically in Brussels; the lens of women as community leaders and initiators; and the lens of democratic innovation.
W100’s main goal is to claim back space for women: "Women’s voices, women’s leadership, women’s space in the city,” Maycock explains. “And that means the physical space, the online space, the political space. And then really act as a kind of connector, a network, catalyst, for the already amazing initiatives that are already happening, to come together and have a greater impact.”
Around 120 women attended the meeting at La Bourse on Saturday, from every background imaginable. Speakers of more than 30 languages were present.
“We have women from every commune, we have women from every socioeconomic group, from homeless women or women who’ve never finished secondary school, to women who were diplomats. Expats, migrants, undocumented, Brussels, Belgium, Flemish, French-speaking,” Maycock says.
The meeting was conducted in three languages: English, French and Dutch. The organisers arranged it in such a way that women were not confined to only women like them but were also able to communicate with those outside of their usual groups.
“Honestly, it was magic,” Maycock says. “People who would never ever cross paths who were just in total concentration and focus and listening to each other, telling stories, coming up with brilliant ideas about how to shape Brussels’ future, and really discovering each other. I’ve rarely felt anything like it.”
Maycock said the group had great feedback from the participants and plans on analysing all the material gathered at the event and then hosting another meeting in the next few months in order to develop a strategy.
“You can do a lot with a good spirit and the right attitude," she adds. You can learn more about Women100 here.