Safe Spaces: Navigating Belonging and Community

In our recent #IWD24 workshop, we delved into the importance of ‘exclusive’ spaces. Our guest speaker beautifully clarified that these spaces aren’t exclusive by nature; rather, they provide a safe haven for specific groups. These spaces provide a place to connect with others who share similar experiences, challenges, and identities. In a society where minority groups may face discrimination, marginalisation, or lack of representation, these exclusive groups offer a refuge—a place where individuals can feel understood, validated, and supported.This shared understanding fosters empathy, solidarity, and a sense of belonging that may be lacking in mainstream environments.

For women only groups, they can provide valuable resources and support networks tailored to their needs. We think this is still necessary in the context of women-centric challenges in the workplace. Although, when I think about taking a holistic approach to working life, this applies to everyone who wants to live that way. However, there is still a long way to go for working women. These communities help to amplify our voices and advocate for change.

Finding these safe spaces where you truly belong holds profound significance. It’s within these sanctuaries of camaraderie and connection that we discover not only our sense of self but also our value as integral members of a community. These spaces become more than mere physical locations; they shape our very sense of belonging and influence our path to success and well-being. Belonging isn’t just a desire; it’s a fundamental human need.

According to the 2023 Global Gender Gap Index no country has yet achieved full gender parity, although the top nine countries (Iceland, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Nicaragua, Namibia and Lithuania) have closed at least 80% of their gap. For the 14th year running, Iceland (91.2%) takes the top position. It also continues to be the only country to have closed more than 90% of its gender gap. They go on to say;

Across all subindexes, Europe has the highest gender parity of all regions at 76.3%, with one-third of countries in the region ranking in the top 20 and 20 out of 36 countries with at least 75% parity. Iceland, Norway and Finland are the best-performing countries, both in the region and in the world, while Hungary, Czech Republic and Cyprus rank at the bottom of the region. Overall, there is a decline of 0.2 percentage points in the regional score based on the constant sample of countries. At the current rate of progress, Europe is projected to attain gender parity in 67 years.

– Just behind Europe, North America ranks second, having closed 75% of the gap, which is 1.9 percentage points lower than the previous edition. While Canada has registered a 0.2 percentage-point decline in the overall parity score since the last edition, the United States has seen a reduction of 2.1 percentage points. At the current rate of progress, 95 years will be needed to close the gender gap for the region.

The World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Survey suggests that more than two-thirds of the organisations surveyed have implemented a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programme. The majority (79%) of companies surveyed are implementing DEI programmes with a focus on women.

Increasing women’s economic participation and achieving gender parity in leadership, in both business and government, are two key levers for addressing broader gender gaps in households, societies and economies. Collective, coordinated and bold action by private- and public- sector leaders will be instrumental in accelerating progress towards gender parity and igniting renewed growth and greater resilience. Recent years have seen major setbacks and the state of gender parity still varies widely by company, industry and economy. Yet, a growing number of actors have recognized the importance and urgency of taking action, and evidence on effective gender parity initiatives is solidifying. We hope the data and analysis provided in this report can further accelerate the speed of travel towards parity by catalysing and informing action by public- and private-sector leaders in their efforts to close the global gender gap.

We Are About To Embark On A Bit Of Research

Reflecting on our journey, from our inception as Tribe Women in 2018 to now as Keystone, we’re keen on introspection. We aim to learn from past experiences, refine our approach, and align our values more closely with our community’s needs. Our commitment to holistic support, well-being, and collaboration remains steadfast. We seek partnerships that uphold our values and actively engage with our community to co-create meaningful offerings. In order for us to understand the needs of the community better, we would love to hear from you.

We intend to;

  • Understand the experience of alumni of Keystone over the years and consolidate key thematic insights and reflections
  • Develop priorities and pathways for Keystone based on the lived experiences of alumni

We will reach out over the next few months and appreciate any and all feedback to help us design the next iteration of Keystone.

To revisit our origins and understand our evolution, watch Sarah Fairbrother’s documentary below, capturing the essence of our first year. We extend our gratitude to Sarah and all participants for their contributions.