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IWD 2023: Q&A with Inspiring Women at Play Action!

Posted on 8 March 2023

Hear from Play Action’s very own Fundraising Officer Jess Poole, answering questions all about her role at Play Action, her experiences, inspirations and being a woman in international development!

  1. Tell me about yourself and your role within Play Action int.

As the Fundraising Officer, I empower volunteers to take on the challenge of volunteering abroad. Particularly when it comes to women, there are barriers and hesitation females have to deliberate to take the plunge, then men often wouldn’t even consider. For example, menstruation cycle: I inform ladies of tips and advice when dealing with their period in rural Uganda. I empower women to feel comfortable to travel.

  1. What moment from your time at Play Action are you most proud of/excited about

I love seeing our volunteers grow. From the day they sign up with us, supporting them through their fundraising and pre departure journey, to watching them flourish on their volunteer project. The person that signs up, who maybe a bit shy, nervous and a first time traveller, is a completely different person to the confident, sociable, and culturally aware volunteer who is at the Playground Open Day. It is truly beautiful.

  1. What women inspire you (general)

Mums. I think the dual/ triple burden is still a thing. Being expected to work full/part time, whilst still being the primary care giver to children is amazing. Although in more recent years, there is more equality within the house hold of cleaning and cooking, I still think the majority of women have a mental load to take on – being the one to write out the shopping list, make the to do list, know everyone’s calendars etc. Being a mum is a job that I admire any woman to take on.

4. Are there any women you have met at your time with Play Action who have inspired you (in the UK or internationally)

Our CEO Murielle – a true boss lady, being a great role model for my career.

Sarah, a cook on volunteer projects in Uganda. Like many of our other cooks, she juggles motherhood, owning a restaurant, and being away from family for large periods of time, so that she can provide for the build team and volunteers on project.

Every day my UK female colleagues inspire me. From having a catch up and coffee, to bossing out work. They keep me sane and I couldn’t do the job without them!

  1. What are the most effective ways to counteract the negative stereotypes of feminism, in the workplace

Calling people out. Having open conversations and learning people perspectives. Understanding others opinions are important. Educating people on your own experience that may not often be spoken about.  

  1. What advice would you give other women working in your sector/what does it take to succeed in your environment

When emailing people, don’t use feminine habits like ‘I believe’ ‘I think’ ‘If you wouldn’t mind’. Don’t be hesitant. Tell them what you need and you will get it. Have a confident voice.

  1. What progress have you seen in gender equity in your life and work

Having a female CEO is very influential to me. It creates more drive and ambition for me. It also creates hope. When I was younger, that was always out of reach, because I thought it was a man’s role. Seeing a woman who has had children, as well as continued a very successful career gives me hope that I wont “have to give up my career to have children” – which I was taught!

Coming from a traditional family, I was always told to marry a rich man!! That he would provide. I went against that advice and now I am incredibly proud that I have a job that gives me enough money to provide for myself. I am self sufficient and sustained by my own income and not a mans. Financial independence is a huge thing for me. I can buy myself flowers!!

  1. What is your international women’s day message

Be bold. Be confident. Be proud.

  1. The UN’s theme is #digitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality and other themes are #EmbraceEquity. What does equity mean to you?

Equity is providing the resources to create an even playing field (no pun intended). Everyone is different, so identifying the differences between genders in important, so equipping people with the tools to a fair life is what equity means to me.