The ‘WFWP Speech Contest for Young Women in the UK’ began in 2015 as a project to expand our educational activities. WFWP wanted to give young women an opportunity to speak in public about their opinions, beliefs and values. The contest enables women (aged between 18 and 39) to demonstrate their eloquence, ability to grasp relevant content and to persevere with dedication from the initial application to the final speech on a stage before a live audience. We believe that this process will be an educational and rewarding experience for those that choose to take part.
This year the WFWP UK hosted the Speech Contest for Young Women (YWSC) based on the theme ‘Women in Today's Society’. The organisers had decided on this topic to address women’s issues, inviting applicants to choose a specific theme or issue that related to them personally. We were inspired by the maturity and creativity of the contestants, reflected in their choices of presentations:
Winnie Phillips ‘Lost Generations (first Generations) Millennials’
Corina Vlasiu ‘Challenging Social Constructs and Moral Values’
Fidelia Okandze ‘Education, Youth and Resilience’
Jodie Dontje ‘Shame in Women’
Batool Al-Subeiti ‘Sexualisation of Women in Today’s Society’.
Miku Pancoast ‘Behind the Curtain: Does the existence of sexism still pose a threat to female classical musicians?’
Preet Dev ‘Daughters of India: Converting liability into asset through Empowerment’.
The YWSC project has become well established in these past three years; news about it went out through social media via our many young women that have taken a keen interest and participated; outreach was done in colleges, universities, young women’s networks were mobilised and of course our WFWP website.
All applicants were invited to submit an initial written composition; after a telephone interview the final contestants were selected, seven in all.
According to the guidelines of the YWSC process,they then had to present their speech in ten minutes.
The 7 finalists mentioned above, represented countries from around the globe including UK, Kenya, Australia, Europe, Asia. These young women added their own personal stories of overcoming challenges in the face of adversity. Particularly inspiring was their journey of growth, how they had utilised personal experiences to empower themselves; they aspired to make a difference in the lives of others, locally and globally.
In their presentations finalists touched on topics such as identity, growing up and life in the UK, bullying and feeling shame, refugee and immigration, sexuality, gender bias and more...
Candidates were excited and also nervous, theyreceived mentoring and coaching during the process of application and selection, preparing them for public speaking. Judges Mr Tim Miller, Dr Christina Scharff, Mrs Mitty Tohma questioned finalists and assessed on capability of presentation, delivery, fluency, clarity of argument and originality.
3rd prize was awarded to Fidelia Okandze (left).
2nd prize was awarded to Miku Pancoast (right).
1st prize 2017 YWSC was awarded to Jodie Dontje (Centre).
The winners had the opportunity to share their feelings on receiving the award; Jodie stated ‘that WFWP values equalled her own values and is looking forward to work alongside WFWP in the future’. All shared their experiences and reported that-they had grown, Fedelia and Miku especially hadnever spoken in public before, they were so grateful and thanked everyone for their support.
We listened to stories of personal challenges and were moved by the courage shown by women from very different backgrounds, how similar experiences had affected them and they could overcome.
These young women have a unique contribution to make. They had a perspective, acquired through personal experience, through education, work and up-bringing, that was of great value and an inspiration for all to see.
A heartfelt thank you to the organisers of the contest, Mrs Taeko Duckworth and her team, to the Judges, Mr Timothy Miller, Dr Christina Scharff and Mrs Mitty Tohma, to Ms Sharon Kabubi, who as MC guided us with great skill and warmth through the afternoon programme
An altogether, moving day of inspiration and growth. Wishing every success to the finalists and all that took part.
Written by Asma Ahmed and Brenda Hodgson