Members are often questioned and criticised for organising women only events, in an effort to support members in dealing with these challenges, NWFS has produced a statement explaining the rationale, detailing the benefits and positive outcomes of such events.
A women only training event is an event that has been designed to focus on the learning needs and communication styles of women. It may also be only open to women. Women only training events provide an environment where employers can learn about the demands placed on women employees and their specific needs in terms of training and development. Gender should be considered as a key variable in these training events. Such training can be seen as unnecessary, inefficient, or not possible. Training delivered specifically for women can assist in increasing understanding and representation. Such events can help women to feel supported, valued and motivated in the workplace.
A women only event is a very clear message that women are welcome, especially in a traditionally male-dominated environment. Women only sessions allow women to facilitate, coach and mentor in a supportive atmosphere. At these training sessions there is an opportunity for women to meet in a relaxed, non-judgemental environment.
Women role models and trainers are able to support women to build their skills and confidence in a non–competitive environment. This is especially important if they are to feel valued and have their different but equally valuable skills recognised and developed. Women can be empowered to achieve their full potential in an atmosphere of co-operation and support. Not only are supportive women trainers important as positive role models, but they often are also good in relating technical information to other women.
These training events also help to build the network which supports women and will assist in helping to retain them in the Fire Service. Women who attend these events in the past have been empowered to try new roles within the Fire Service, e.g. specialist skill roles and taking on more responsibility with promotion.
Women only training events, especially with women trainers as part of the training team, help towards achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women in the fire service.
Mani Gilbert King, Network Chair, along with Dany Cotton, Cheryl Rolph, Anne Waters and many other NWFS members, have taken on the role of ambassador for the current CLG programme.