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Women in Community Leadership

“It gave me a sense of belonging”

The inspiring journey of the Women in Community Leadership Network’s launch in Birmingham

A diverse team of women in community leadership
Our Women in Community Leadership Cohort

On 8 March 2022, Citizens UK Birmingham organised an event to celebrate International Women’s Day. Mashkura Begum, a co-chair of Birmingham Citizens, facilitated the space where 15 women leaders were able to share their stories. This led to the launch of the Women in Community Leadership Programme that was developed using the method of community organising through one-to-one conversations and group meetings.

On 25 October 2023, they launched a Women in Community Leadership Network. The aim of this support network, that will be meeting monthly, is to become a space where women leaders can share issues, provide support and build strong networks.

During four workshops that were led and facilitated by Elsa Zenatti-Daniels, Postgraduate Student Development Lead at Aston Business School, women from local communities in Birmingham were able to talk about their experiences of being women in community leadership. This was a safe space where they could share their experiences, their skills and start developing a support network. The programme led to building connections between organisations in different neighbourhoods in Birmingham and reached women from a variety of backgrounds.

Mashkura Begum

As women, we have a lot of commonalities, no matter our backgrounds, that we don’t talk about. The Women in Community Leadership Programme created a space for women leaders to share these experiences Mashkura Begum, Birmingham Citizens UK’s co-chair and Chair of Saathi House

The programme led to another celebration event for International Women’s Day in 2023 at Aston Business School – where leaders from the programme shared their stories and journeys as community leaders and talked about how to get things done and to navigate female leaders being cut out of conversations. This powerful moment, entirely led by community leaders, was an opportunity for the women involved to share their testimonies with a broader audience. It was a chance to grapple with the misogyny and barriers they faced in their community institutions and the resources and solidarity they could build together as women leaders.


I have found in Citizens UK the women leaders I had been looking for. Aisha Khan, Partner Governor of Ark Victoria Academy

Noorun Zaman, from St Clare’s Catholic Primary School, spoke during the event about her own experience and challenges of being a single mum, and how she was able to work through them to inspire others.

“It gave me a sense of belonging, where finally women were able to have their say, share their feelings. That was very empowering.” - Noorun Zaman

Noorun has our national community leadership training and is looking forward to working on a listening campaign in the Autumn with leaders from all walks of life to drive change in Birmingham’s local communities.

The Women in Community Leadership Programme was so successful that it will be launched again for a new cohort of women in different parts of the City. By developing relationships and building a network of women from a diversity of backgrounds, the Women in Community Leadership Programme and its new network are an inspiring example of sisterhood, and of finding ways to build power and develop leaders through mutual support.

Sukhy Nijjar from West Midlands Combined Authority discussed about how women in community leadership getting things done are often cut out of the conversation.

The next Women in Community Leadership event is Inspire Inclusion on the 8th of March at Birmingham Newman University - sign up here.

Posted by Tom Snape on 20 Feb, 2024