iWoman Academy is a community interest company that uses radio as a wellbeing tool to empower women who are out of work and give them tools to move forward in their career. CEO Ngunan Adamu says, ‘losing your job is not the end of your story, it is an exciting new start, but you need the confidence to make it happen.’ This is where iWoman academy comes in.
iWoman Academy is a 12-week course. In the first project the participants create a music show as a ‘soft way’ into them finding their voice, Ngunan explains. “We’ve had everything from soft rock to RnB to Arabic pop music, Polish soundtracks, music scores, musicals – it’s been amazing.” And where the music show gives them a chance to celebrate individuality, the next part of the course reinforces the opposite. They research into health, a topic which highlights their shared experience as women, wherever in the world they are from; whatever their experiences. And they learn to research critically, as a journalist would.
“I realised research is so important, especially when you’re not in a nice situation; you can Google the wrong information and panic yourself over things,” says Ngunan. The research aspect of the course gets them looking critically at sources; learning how to glean information that will empower them. There is also a holistic side to the course; they go through practical skills to find work, discuss what their barriers are (timekeeping, for example) and are given resources to overcome their challenges.
iWoman CEO Ngunan Adamu
Conversation between these women means that it becomes a community and they find a universality in their experience as women; whether they are survivors of domestic abuse, asylum seekers, trans women or claiming universal credit. “These are women that would never have met each other, they would never have been friends,” but through the course they become just that, “a sisterhood […] and there’s always someone who makes cake!” Ngunan laughs.
Over lockdown, iWoman Academy went online and reached women on an international level; Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates, to name but a few. This showed that iWoman “is needed,” Ngunan reflects, and while “Liverpool will always be our base – it’s got to be Liverpool! – going international is definitely the next step.”
Ngunan is a producer and host with the BBC herself; but whenever she travels now “I’ve made such a fuss about iWoman that people know more about it than they do about my work in the BBC… and I love it!”
Participants complete the course with a newfound confidence and a set of skills; going to take on their careers once more, pursue degrees, or starting their own businesses. The course is all about bringing these women back into society. “They gain so much,” says Ngunan, “in terms of confidence, in strength and voice – I hope they pay it forward. We’re in a global battle at the moment, as women, and we definitely have to support each other.” And iWoman certainly does that; a course run by women, for women, who will doubtless pay it forward in kind.
For more information about iWoman, head to its website, iwoman.co.uk.