Women’s networks break down barriers

By Ngunan Ioron Aloho • 20 March 2023

Co-creation workshops

I am Ngunan Ioron Aloho, a Nigerian, and I live in the UK. I am a lawyer, gender development advocate, and certified Project Management Professional with extensive knowledge working within complex matrix environments and 7+ years of experience delivering projects, programmes, and campaign strategies across Sub-Saharan Africa and the UK. I founded a non-profit organisation in Nigeria – the Samuel Ioron Foundation, designed to break barriers hindering access to education and development for women and girls.

I learned about the Young Women Trust through their Work It Out coaching session and I applied to be a part of the co-design participants for a new service design. I understand the barriers women experience in accessing the job markets in the UK and even more being retained, and this propelled me to be a part of the design workshop to share ideas and experiences that will support a new product design. Prior to the workshop, I belonged to 10+ networks that have inspired, influenced and created spaces for me to access opportunities that I would otherwise not have been able to access so I understand how powerful networks can be in breaking these barriers that exist to push back women’s developmental growth.

The benefits of women’s networks

Before the co-creation workshops, I had no idea what kind of service product would be designed, and how this will change the circumstances of women in the UK. However, during the workshop, I was able to learn from the experiences of others and mine, the barriers that existed in the UK, and how some of these experiences are unique to women based on age, class, race, and even within the postcodes where women lived. Through these experiences, I was able to start thinking about how a new service could tear down some of these barriers and provide networks to support women to achieve better in the workplace.

The new disruption

A vital lesson from the co-creation workshop is that products can’t be designed without the involvement of users. The experiences of the women in the workshop worked together to create a powerful service product in the end. Without our diverse skills, experiences, and intersectionalities, it could have been just another product, but now, we have a product designed out of the real lived experiences and barriers women in the UK have and that is powerful.


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