We believe it is important to share some of the success stories to encourage other women to achieve their potential. On these pages you will find a series of real women's stories on how they overcame their barriers and achieved the goals that they set for themselves.
All of these women have taken part in the Women Making a Difference training programme.
Originally born in Cardiff, Dr Dawn Mannay was brought up in a Welsh 'Valley's town' and left school with just a few GCSE's. By the age of 21 she was a mother of two and living on a marginalised housing estate in relative poverty. She is a true success story of determination that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Today Dawn is a university lecturer with First Class Honours BA, a Masters and PhD in Social Sciences.
"I didn't have many qualifications when I left school. When my son started nursery they had courses on site which you could take part in whilst your children were being cared for. I did a few courses, including a counselling course. To study the second part I had to go to the Centre for Lifelong Learning in Cardiff University, which I didn't even know existed. I didn't stop there, and managed to get 60 credits, which was the equivalent to a Foundation Certificate—enough to qualify for University.
I was accepted on to a joint degree in Education and Psychology at Cardiff University. At this time I was 30 and my eldest child was in High School. I found it difficult to adjust, there were 200 people in the lectures, nearly all white, all middle class, under 25 'middle England'. As a lone mature student I didn't know if I'd be able to stick it out but when I learned more about inequalities in education and society in general; I was determined to finish the degree.
As a Community Learning Rep I had lots of information on local courses, which is where I heard about Engendering Change, and my life changed from there."
"Engendering Change definitely opened up new opportunities for me! A lot of academia can be very snobby and hierarchical, so even though I'd got my degree and I was doing my Masters I still felt I didn't quite fit. I was losing confidence in many ways."
"I lost people during this journey though. It's one of the reasons I was so determined to do my PhD and do well, because not all of my family and friends were supportive. It's a shame but people can be jealous. Through Women Making a Difference I gained a whole new family of women who were not jealous if you've got things, we want each other to do well.
Engendering Change gave me that push to get involved, and made me feel that I can make a worthwhile change to my community. I am on the ACE Development Trust and the 'Futurespace' project which is about sustainability and the environment. It interests me because it works to address fuel poverty, people sitting there cold because they can't afford to put the heating on, and I know what that's like."
"All women need to develop their self-confidence and sense of pride and not allow other people to put them down. This can be achieved through formal education or through groups like Women Making a Difference, by getting involved in local communities, sport, art, being a good friend and neighbour. Look in the mirror and tell yourself you can achieve anything and you will... But more importantly—achieve it as your true self."