Who inspires you? Whose quotes do you share on your own social feeds because they lift you up in a way that make you feel you can do it, that you are powerful, brilliant and that you are enough?
One of the brilliant people that I’ve connected with on social media and whose feed is very much a part of my daily insta diet is Brita Fernandez Schmidt. Brita is the Executive Director of Women for Women International and is responsible for the operation and management of the charity in the UK and Europe.
Women for Women International helps marginalised women in countries affected by war and conflict. They serve women in eight countries offering support, tools, and access to life-changing skills to move from crisis and poverty to stability and economic self-sufficiency.
A Winging It Warrior herself, Brita has written a guest blog which details how she guides her team, why winging it is a core part of her job and highlights Women for Women International’s brilliant #SheInspiresMe campaign.
Thank you Brita
Before I joined Women for Women International, I was working for another charity called Womankind Worldwide – helping women in Africa, Asia and Latin America and before that I did a Masters in Women’s Studies.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to address injustice and in particular injustice against women. I remember growing up in Venezuela and seeing how poverty so disproportionately affects women. It stirred in me a fire that has only been growing ever since. I cannot tolerate that anyone gets discriminated against simply because of an aspect of their identity – and I have made it my mission to focus on gender inequality in particular. I see how restrictive it is for women and actually men to be defined by their sex and the roles associated with it.
When I look back over my career – the last 25 years – I feel really lucky. I often joke about the imposter syndrome, which I am sure many of us experience – because I often feel I am winging it as I go along. But actually I am winging it always with a very clear purpose. I always say to my team, we are pioneers – we are going where others don’t go – that is scary and requires a degree of very professional ‘winging it’ but it is also brave and has potentially huge returns/benefits. So far – every time we are slightly but very professionally ‘winging it’ it has really paid off.
I actually think that sometimes what holds us back the most are imagined expectations or standards that we somehow internalise without even realising and definitely rarely questioning – and the next thing you know is that you are controlling your actions based on these assumptions. So proactively encouraging to ‘wing it’ is really important – because it moves away from false expectations to relying more on your gut feeling and your instinctive knowledge which then coupled with your experience is far more likely to bring good results.
Over the past 5-6 years I have proactively tried to get better at really listening to my own instincts and acting on them and it has enabled me to play to my strength and get the best out of myself. And that is really important to me because my mission is to inspire other women to believe in their potential and I can only do this if I lead by example.
It has hugely motivated me to push myself because I know it means that Women for Women International will be more successful and in turn will be able to help more women in countries affected by conflict to rebuild their lives; women who have experienced some horrendous things, who are very poor and who have very little access to resources or knowledge. With our help, they can enrol in a year long programme where they meet other women, learn skills and gain confidence and knowledge that enables them to change their lives and empower themselves, and follow their aspirations.
These women inspire me every day – their courage and their resilience, their joy of life and love for their family and community. And in turn I know that they are inspired by the help they receive and the knowledge that there is someone who cares. That is why we launched our #SheInspiresMe campaign recently, – to celebrate the power of inspiration. I know that I am braver and more confident ‘winging it’ because of how these women inspire me!