“Engagement, education, self-empowerment” – that’s the strapline for the Dundee International Women’s Centre (DIWC). Founded in 1969 as part of an urban aid programme, this voluntary group of women came to be known as the Dundee International Women’s Group, and their goal was to help integrate immigrant families into the community. The charity’s purpose has remained the same ever since.
The history of the DIWC is chronicled on its website. It makes for fascinating reading, and reflects the way society has changed since 1969. Over the years DIWC has affected the lives of thousands of women, preventing loneliness and social isolation, promoting community education and empowerment.
As a Glaswegian native who has never lived anywhere but Glasgow, I cannot imagine the kinds of challenges immigrants must face when they arrive in a new country and must adapt to living in an unfamiliar community. And to go even further; as a man, I have no comprehension how difficult it must be to a woman from a black and minority ethnic community, having to deal not just with coming to grips with a new culture, but having to overcome the myriad of societal pressures women face.
The combination of these two things is challenging, and DIWC’s mission is to address the needs of women from BME communities. It works to promote and create learning opportunities so women can gain the confidence, life skills, education and employability skills to participate, grow and thrive in the new, sometimes daunting, educational, political, social and economic situation they find themselves in.
Within the charity sits a social enterprise called Rise & Shine, a flexible childcare service operated by a unique bi-lingual team which helps take care of children from parents attending courses or training at the DIWC. It also offers outside support for corporate, private and charity events of every kind around Tayside. Indeed, it was through Rise & Shine that I became familiar with DIWC. The work that it does in tandem is truly brilliant.
On this episode I chat to Caroline McKenna, the CEO for the Dundee International Women’s Centre. We dive deep into what DIWC does, how Rise & Shine was formed, the way the social enterprise has evolved since it began in 2008 and some of the amazing work the Centre does.