The Voice of Women in the Public Sphere: Stories and Tools of Public Discourse
On 21 and 22 October 2022, Women Act organized, with the support of the Friedrich Naumman Foundation for Freedom, a Leadership Academy in the city of Heraklion, Crete. The event was a two-day experiential workshop focusing on “Public Speaking” and aimed at offering participants the necessary skillset for projecting a more concrete and assertive image in the public sphere.
During the first day of the workshop, a round table was organized, in which participants had the chance to listen to the experiences of influencing women regarding their presence in the public sphere. Speakers included professor and writer Lena Divani, journalist Antigoni Andreaki and wine producer Emmanouela Paterianaki.
Lena Divani shared stories that shaped who she is today. She highlighted the fact that in order to be more vocal in the public sphere, as women, we have to be authentic and true to ourselves. At the same time, we have to understand that our professional path will be full of challenges and we will have to develop the mechanisms to cope with them. Finally, she urged the participants to become more assertive in their communication with others.
Antigoni Andreaki, a very popular figure in the Cretan public sphere, shared with the audience her decision to go public about her fight with breast cancer. At the same time, she shared her story of how, despite the difficulties, she managed to become one of the most famous journalists in Crete. Additionally, she talked about her decision to run for office, sharing with the audience the challenges she had to face being a woman in a male-dominated environment.
Emmanouela Paterianaki talked about her challenges as a young woman in a male-dominated profession and how she manages to balance her passion for wine and her role as a young mother.
Maria Gianniou and Antigoni Kouvidi, co-founders of Women Act, presented the work of the organization giving particular emphasis on the work done for concretely and actively supporting women to claim leadership positions and to participate in the decision-making centers. In particular, they mentioned the Women CANdidates program, funded by the USA Embassy in Greece, the first online platform in Greece that supports women who want to run for office (www.womencandidates.gr) and the W-action initiative, the first platform that connects women professionals to high-level conference organizers in Greece, giving women the opportunity to be more vocal in the public sphere. They also mentioned the work done by Women Act throughout Greece, via the various hubs that the organization has created in different parts of the country - one of them being Heraklion, Crete.
Alona Tatarova, speaking on behalf of FNF, highlighted the important work undertaken by the foundation regarding the promotion of democratic principles in Europe and offered an overview of the projects supported by FNF in relation, specifically, to gender equity, diversity, and social inclusion.
During the second day of the Leadership Academy, Dr. Maria Gianniou, Women Act co-founder, Empowerment & Leadership Coach, and Corporate Trainer, facilitated a workshop on how to become better at the art of public speaking. Participants had the chance to better understand the challenges most women face when they have to speak in public and how they could address them in a productive way. Through interactive teaching techniques, Dr. Gianniou facilitated a discussion around the value and usefulness of being vocal in the public sphere and shared with the participants specific techniques on how to become better public speakers.
The session closed with an overview of the key takeaways regarding women professionals and leaders and the importance of public speaking.