There is power in sharing women's stories

 February 23, 2021

“Tell the story of the mountain you climbed. Your words could become a page in someone else’s survival guide," says Morgan Harper Nichols. 

There is no more better quote to describe the sentiment behind The Womanhood Journal, released to mark International Women’s Day. The Womanhood Journal started as a passion project of Anna Colville-Smith and is a collection of female business stories from across the Kāpiti and Horowhenua regions of New Zealand.

Sharing authentic stories from local business women

Creators of the Womanhood Journal felt there would be power in sharing stories - for inspiration, education, and to uplift others. So, they chose to share authentic stories from a diverse range of local women in business. Each woman bravely contributed their story in their own words, stating their own truth in the hope of encouraging others. A further goal of the journal was to support fundraising for local female-focused charities. 

The Journal features 25 local women in business from the Horowhenua / Kāpiti area in New Zealand. To cover print and design costs, and to provide a donation to the Kāpiti Women’s Centre and Palmerston North Women’s Refuge as they help women rise, the  women paid to feature in the journal.

Distributing copies of the Journal across the region

IWD women magazine

500 copies of the Womanhood Journal were printed and distributed across the region, including at the Kāpiti Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary International Women’s Day lunch.

Further copies have been distributed to local businesses and a digital version is available to amplify reach and messaging supporting International Women's Day. 

"#ChooseToChallenge to me means challenging myself to be more visible in the community with voicing and sharing women's stories and not being afraid to celebrate success. Before embarking on this project of delivering the Womanhood Journal I was fearful of what people might think of me, or if women would want to be involved in the project. The major challenge was being brave enough to have the confidence to lead this project," says Anna Colville-Smith, the Journal's initiator.

"We all need to #ChooseToChallenge to help forge a gender-equal world and celebrate women's achievements. This sentiment was a key thought-starter for each contributor’s individual piece in the publication. If nothing else, it got women thinking for themselves about what #ChooseToChallenge meant to them. Thinking always results in forward movement and change," she adds.

The project created strong connections between women


The biggest challenge was securing a mix of women who were willing to authentically share their story, and then not being able to include all the stories due to space limitations.

The Journal creators quickly learned that there are so many more stories to share and everyone is worthy of this chance. However, there is a goal of growing the journal with it becoming an annual publication featuring further female-focused stories.

A highlight from this project was gathering the women who bravely shared their stories together to meet each other at a small event. For the organisers, it was incredibly satisfying watching the local connections that were established as a part of this project and seeing new women meet each other and cheer each other on.  

A further rewarding part of the project was the collaboration with Lemonface Design and Deacon Rd, two incredibly talented women in business who supported the Journal coming to fruition.

"We all had a vision of raising awareness for International Women's Day and authentic storytelling which resulted in great teamwork and support of each other to deliver an amazing journal," explains Anna Colville-Smith.

"The Womanhood Journal was born out of an idea to share and project women's inspiring stories and this Journal has evolved into a wonderfully powerful record of women's real journeys through business and life."

Photo caption: Sarah-Jayne Shine @lemonfacedesign, Anna Colville-Smith @acsmarketingnz, Jess Deacon

Photo Credit: Helen Lea Wall, @nomadcreative 

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Remember, women's empowerment comes from all sources, people, areas, and perspectives - and International Women's Day is powered by the collective efforts of all. Collective action and shared ownership for women's equality is what makes International Women's Day so impactful. Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights." So let's all do what we can, in our own way, to truly make a positive difference for women everywhere.


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