International Women’s Day is upon us! Every community is enriched by the presence and contribution of women. This year, we’re diving into the theme ‘Embracing Equity’ by taking a closer look at how communities practice equity in their efforts to include women in their initiatives. From little choices to grand actions, every step towards creating an environment for all people to thrive and demonstrate our abilities is a step that counts.
We’re shining the spotlight on 5 women across various regions, backgrounds and teams of Peatix to share stories about the communities that empower them.
In our fifth installment of this interview series, we have Eri Uematsu, who is part of the Community Partnerships team at Peatix, an online book club organizer and a very active alumni member. Eri shares with us about her communities’ efforts to cultivate strong and lasting connections between its members and the various facets of her role as a community organizer.
Hello Eri! Please share with us the communities you are currently a part of.
I am a member of several communities, but there are mainly two that I am active in. I’ve been hosting an online book club monthly for about two years now, and it’s managed by myself and another colleague. The other is a community of alumni from graduate school, and in order to keep the relationships active between students after graduation, we hold events three to four times a year with alumni volunteers. We organize events as much as we participate in them.
Amazing! Tell us about the members of your alumni community.
Basically, there are nearly 1,000 members who graduated in the same term, and among them, there are quite a few who are actively looking for connections after graduation. We have people from a variety of industries, from startups to large corporations, from medical care to IT, and of course men and women of all ages.
How did you go about creating an online book club community?
We have a book reading group about once a month, and we basically prepare for it by exchanging information via Facebook Messenger, and depending on the situation, we may also pre-discuss how to run the session. I have been doing this for almost two years now. I wonder how many books we have read in this book club… I think we have covered close to ten books.
Out of the many activities you do with your communities, which ones bring you the most joy?
In any community, getting to know people from all walks of life is stimulating and broadens one’s world. The more deeply I am involved in the community, the more experiences and memories I have, and the more I feel that I am involved in the community. I have been doing this for about two years now, and it is quite enjoyable. There are times when I feel that I have done well, and there is also the joy of knowing that we can continue to do so if we just try to find some way. I also get thanked for doing it, so that also brings me a lot of joy. When we take a commemorative photo at the end of the event after we have successfully gathered all the participants, we talk about our impressions of the book, and when we talk about what the participants thought of the event, we can directly feel that they are enjoying the event. I am glad that we do this every time.
What are some of the ways that your community has embraced equity especially towards women?
Several times a year, student-led events are planned, and at each event, we first recruit a group of “organizers” who will manage it. Since there are various roles within the organizing group, it is easy for people to take on new challenges. We also provide an opportunity to challenge leadership skills by becoming a leader of a team at each event. There are always opportunities for people to try their hand at leadership, and there is also an atmosphere in this community where it is easy to speak up and say so.
What do you think groups/communities can do to embrace and include women better in their organisations?
People often say that leadership is important, but I think that followership is also very important to demonstrate leadership. I am a woman, but I think it is very difficult for a single person to raise her hand and take on a challenge alone and in silence. I think that the environment of support and the followership there is what encourages women. Women should also look for these environments. If these two are well matched, women will find a very good community for themselves.
In conjunction with International Women’s Day, Peatix is also featuring the best events and communities that celebrate the occasion throughout the month of March. Discover an empowering experience at peatix.com