Your Story Women’s Writing Retreat

The WomenSpeak Project hosted it’s first full day Your Story Women’s Writing Retreat on September 16, 2018 at Green Meadows Santa Cruz. Twenty women participated in the workshop which was facilitated by Alake Pilgrim.

The workshop was designed to help women think about their life experiences, motivations and aspirations and how these may uncover a deeper purpose or issue that they would like to explore or become involved in addressing. The workshop is part of The WomenSpeak Project’s aim to help women use their story as a starting point for participating in advocacy activities.

Simone Leid, Founder and Moderator of the organisation welcomed participants to the workshop and explained the work of the WomenSpeak Project and the purpose behind the Your Story Workshops. She discussed that women telling their stories was a powerful tool to highlight the issues that women face and enables other women to understand that they are not the only ones to have this experience. This collective consciousness becomes a catalyst for change and every woman can participate in activities big or small, in the public sphere and in their private lives to advocate for change.

Alake Pilgrim took participants through a number of writing exercises to mine their memories and get them in the habit of writing every day with ‘Morning Pages’. Women were challenged to listening exercises to enable them to really pinpoint feelings and key messages in the each other’s stories. Women also had an opportunity to get to learn a little bit more about each other in the small group exercises.

One of the participants, Sanam Sheriff, a poet from Bangalore, India, and visiting Watson Fellow studying Women and Writing, shared some of her amazing poetry with the group, showing us the power of womens voices and stories.

Sanam Sheriff, Poet

Some of the comments from participants about the workshop

It was an amazing, beautiful time. I felt close to people who i’d only met for the first time that day, that few hours through shared interests and unabated honesty.

Overall the workshop was very thought provoking and it encouraged a bit of personal insight and allowed for a positive foundation for moving forward.

I loved Alake’s message that it was “OK”. I think as humans we constantly compare ourselves and dwell on what we perceive as our inadequacies. I liked being told it’s ok to be me.

Well put together. Invaluable exercises. We are not as alone as we feel as many may have had many similar experiences.

Had a great experience…loved Alake…so happy I did this

Overall a great day

This workshop exceeded my expectation and rekindled a passion for writing. I loved the experience and would recommend it to others.

On what they learned about Advocacy

I learned that victims are not the only voices to be heard as part of advocacy efforts… they shouldn’t be.

The message I got was one that I have understood for a long time – that together women can have a voice and support and or encourage each other.

Its important to speak out. No matter what you feel at the time of the “injustice” or how much time has passed, you still have a voice.

A person centered approach, inclusion & empowerment

You are not alone, and that’s the biggest thing abusers hold over your head, that its just you. You are the problem. Nobody would believe you or help you or care. The only way to take that power away from them and put it back into the victims’ hands is to stand together.

Your voice has a voice…turn up the volume.

There are many different ways to do it…some very quietly

It starts with a strong commitment and positive attitude.

It is something that will personally come to you in your own time.


Thank Yous

As a self-funded social enterprise, we are grateful for the support of partners and well-wishers who assist us in achieving our objectives. Sincere thanks to Green Meadows Santa Cruz who were wonderful and generous venue partners. Thanks to Nestle Trinidad and Tobago for donation of snacks. Thank you to Paper Based Bookshop for the support and help with registrations. Thank you to Chef Ca-el Seebaran at House of El catering for lunch. And thank you to the WomenSpeak Community who continue to spread the word and the message that we all have a part to play in ending discrimination against women in all forms. Look out for upcoming workshops and events.