Can one woman impact true social change?
They say charity starts at home but it shouldn’t end there. Director of Social Enterprise at Filtered Media, Louisa Sampson, explores the supportive network it takes to truly succeed in bringing about social change.

‘Behind every successful woman, is herself.’

This profound twist on an old phrase came from Tricia Martin, Director at SHE CAN, as she addressed a room full of 500 women at a recent Aim for the Stars Foundation event in Sydney — hosted by seven times world champion surfer Layne Beachley.

Tricia shared her story as one of hundreds of scholarships granted by Layne Beachley’s foundation over the years to actively help transform Australian women’s potential into reality.  

I was in awe as each woman took to the stage to confidently and eloquently explain why they felt moved to make a difference. One thing they had in common – apart from being incredibly passionate and hard-working – was the fact they all received financial support for their efforts.

Support through the Aim for the Stars Foundation helped them scale ideas, grow in confidence, and access mentors and financial aid.

Female leadership is something you see right across the charity sector. Seventy percent of Australia’s 250 School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) Fellows are women. In the state of Victoria, around one third of board positions on social enterprises are held by women compared to only one quarter in mainstream businesses.

Women also give more of their incomes to charity than men. In a 2009 McKinsey study of over 800 business leaders, women showed an advantage in responding to global challenges following crises.

Back in the room that night, another woman who graced the stage was Mel Thomas. Mel shared with the audience her traumatic journey of living with domestic violence at the hands of her father, and subsequently finding herself in harmful relationships as an adult.

A martial artist, mother of two and all round incredible woman, she founded the KYUP! Project, a not-for-profit aiming to end the cycle of violence by empowering women and girls to know their worth and learn vital self-defence skills.

As the room rose to a standing ovation, I imagined the hundreds of people in the room paying her story forward, and the knock-on impact of all who might go on to read about her online after the event, sign-up to one of her workshops, or donate money with so many people to carry her story on.

It’s vital for social enterprises to have backing, expertise in all corners and strong storytelling skills to allow an idea to grow into reality and expand into the public imagination. It’s this idea that our Social Enterprise practice at Filtered Media is built on.

I agree wholeheartedly with Tricia’s belief that strong women back themselves and are the key to their own success. I also know that behind every successful woman is an incredible story worth telling.

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