3 ways that bring joy - with Dellwyn Stuart
I’m an introvert, the daughter of farmers, and the mother of a committed Harry Potter fan! I’m pretty awful at following rules, doing spreadsheets and making small talk. But I was blessed with a fabulously ordinary, rural childhood – nothing extraordinary happened at all! I lived in the same house, was very loved and supported, had the same friends, my parents stuck together, they didn’t even argue much. One blissfully ordinary day after another. This childhood of mine took place in the 70s.
I had a strong and inspiring mother and grew up - as we all did that decade with a period in fashion we’d like to forget - and the phrase “girls can do anything”.
I took this phrase to my heart and have lived by it. I haven’t let my gender stop me from doing what I’ve wanted to do. Yes I’ve had to make choices – but this is what our mothers fought for, for us to be able to have choices.
Girls can do anything. I know this to be true. A question arises though - do we live in a world that is designed for us to flourish in as women? I don’t believe so. What I now understand, is that I adapted my skills and gifts to fit a world designed by men, for men. I’m into my fourth decade of work (!) and this is still more often the case.
There are many barriers for us in the world we live and work in, nuances that are biased toward men’s success. As well as adapting to a male world, I am guilty of complacency. I believed that because there’s such strong evidence to support greater diversity and inclusion – that it would simply happen.
Well it hasn’t.
Not enough change, not fast enough, and not far reaching enough. Last year’s massive women’s marches - that outpouring of frustration about the pace of change, about ingrained bias, about overt sexism – that reignited the activist in me.
I spend my days working in the generosity space. I encourage giving, I match generous people with those wanting to make change happen. I noticed I was most often to talking to women and in scratching the surface of that I learnt that women give differently, We give more, and more often. Empathy is big in our giving and often sees us direct our giving to women and girls – we get their stories, their needs their struggles.
So last year at 50 yrs old, I boldly launched my first start up. The Women’s Fund.
The Fund is a community where we come together, pool our giving – modest and magnificent – we learn about the issues women and girls are (still) facing and we democratically decide where to make grants and initiate support.
Around the world, data tells us that girls and women’s charities only get about 10cents out of the philanthropic dollar. I find this outrageous, seriously unjust and just plain crazy when you know that women are powerful change agents in their communities.
Thinking about the last few months, I can’t quite believe I’ve created this whole new entity, community, movement... It’s completely the right thing at the right time.
What I’ve learnt is its easier to be brave when your head and your heart are aligned. It doesn’t even feel brave. It’s just natural, right. I’ve loved designing something collaboratively with women, for women. In the male world leading collaboratively, is often simply not even seen as leading! I’ve learnt that women are powerful when united.
Again and again we are seeing it with #metoo, with the women’s marches, with NZ’s women’s suffrage – 125th anniversary. Can you believe we still have to protest this shit!
I believe if we’re going to see real change happen we have to step up and take action. We need to use our brains, our hearts, our resources, our networks and we have to demand change. And that is what I’m trying to do in my own small way in bringing together the Womens Fund.
It is in our actions we have power, it is about what we do. You have power – put it to use to make change happen.
3 ways that bring joy
Seeing change happen – ideas spread, gifts given, ah ha moments, progress made, goals met.
Walking on the beach beside someone I love, soaking up nature, the sea air.
Trees – the green, the movement, the sense of strength and permanence, and the shelter they provide.
One thing people can do to contribute to a better, kinder New Zealand
Acknowledge the gifts you have in your life – your skills, qualities, experience, networks of support, assets – be grateful and share them to connect with others.
You can find out more about the Women’s Fund here: