How did social enterprises build women’s self-worth and self-belief?
Offer counselling and emotional support
Social enterprises we interviewed provided counselling and emotional support by listening to ‘previously silenced voices’ of women beneficiaries. As one social enterprise shared:
‘the women that we work with, you know, it’s challenging sometimes because they do have lots of problems and issues and things like that. … in a supportive environment, these women flourish and really, do you know, reach their full potential.’ (Social Enterprise 1).
As one of the women beneficiaries explained, one of the key practices which women really valued is someone else listening to them:
“..they listen. They hear everybody. To me, for women especially just being heard” (Social Enterprise 1, Women Beneficiary 1).
Allow women to progress at their own pace
Another interesting aspect discovered in the findings was that social enterprises did not rush the women. They allowed the women to progress at their own pace, demonstrating an understanding that it takes people time to re-discover themselves and develop specific skills and competencies. As one of the social enterprises summarised it:
“It’s about working with women where they are at, rather than where I would want them to be” (Social Enterprise 2).
Catalyst to bring women together – intergenerational atmosphere
Social enterprises act as a catalyst to bring women of different ages and backgrounds together, providing a supportive environment where women are able to develop friendships and networks.
“It’s a bit like family. It’s about sharing and caring for each other..” (Social Enterprise 1).
In this environment, women are able to speak openly and honestly, to understand the issues facing other women, supporting and empowering each other. One of the examples included an open conversation about LGBT, which helped older women to better understand the specific issues that women in the LGBT community face.
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