Every year Empower members get together at the annual conference to learn more about Progressio's work, to gain skills and knowledge in order to work with us and to (develop relationships and) get to know one another for the year ahead. This year was no different and attendees quickly bonded and began to share their enthusiasm as we mapped out a year of activities.

The energy and exctitement amongst the whole group channelled into the mix of trainings, workshops, skill-sharing and speaker sessions at the conference and culminated in some amazing plans.

It's these plans that this blog is unveiling, and inviting you to get involved with! The Empower Network will be focusing on six International Days of celebration and awareness-raising into 2016. Each day has a working group committed to making noise on the day through events, social media, stunts, fundraisers and more. Having just formed, the working groups aretaking their first steps in planning so now is the time for you to make contact with the group if you'd like to work on the day with them. The more the merrier, there is plenty of work to be done!

To join a working group and be a part of their plans around promoting the day, simply choose which issue takes your fancy and send an email to campaigns@progressio.org.uk explaining why you'd like to join the group. We can then put you in touch with the working group leader who can share their ideas with you and explain what roles are available and what opportunities for engagement you can help out with. If you're not a member of Progressio Empower but would like to be you can sign up here to get regular news, updates and calls to action.

So, what are the days and the plans so far?

Day 1 - Wednesday 25th November 2015: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

The team for this day are set to unleash a storm on social media with their #IStandWithWomenBecause campaign. If you can help 'orange your world' by bringing some orange to your community or, if you can share blogs, articles and stories amongst your local press then this working group might be for you.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women has taken place every year since 1981. This date came from the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961). Gender-based violence is a severe violation of the human rights and dignity of women and girls worldwide. As we mark the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Conference, now is the time to act. With 1 in 3 women experiencing physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes, we can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to their plight.

Day 2 - Tuesday 1st December 2015: World AIDS Day

The plans to mark World AIDS day are all centred around sharing myth busting facts. If you can help source facts, write a blog or write a communications plan this may be the team for you. All the content is being gathered to launch in the days leading up to the 1st of December and release throughout the week. If you can use your creativity or connections to get the facts seen in some unusual places and spread the message further, you'll be an extremely useful asset to the team!

World AIDS day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and was first held in 1988. Progressio believe that people living with HIV have the right to receive adequate care and support, and to live their lives free from marginalisation and discrimination.

Our work globally achieves an immediate impact for people living with HIV, by reducing stigma and discrimination and promoting better policies and services; and we achieve a long term impact, by empowering organisations, communities and people to drive through changes now and in the future.

Day 3 - Tuesday 8th March 2016: International Women’s Day

For this day the team are working towards producing a photo exhibition that shows inspirational women from all over the world and highlights their stories. At the exhibition event they plan to host a speaker panel to delve into the issues surrounding gender inequality and the numerous links to international development. Are you a gender expert yourself? Or great with a camera? Maybe you've got event management experience, the plans for this day will require a skilled and committed team - if you think you could help do get in touch. You can find out more about the event and register to join us here.

International Women's Day has built up from strength to strength in recent years. Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatrical performances, fashion parades and more. Progressio know that women in fragile states are key actors in people powered development – supporting women can achieve deep-seated social change, which makes fragile states into stronger societies, and reduces poverty. This then embeds equality, participation and rights in emerging state structures to ensure sustainable growth and development

Day 4 - Sunday 5th June 2016: World Environment Day

Taking advantage of the fact that this day falls on a weekend the team have come up with a whole day of activities to work toward. The vision is to run a series of workshops at a creative space in London giving attendees the ability to learn more about living sustainably and reconnecting with nature. As a great potential fundraiser this day needs a team effort from eco savvy enthusiasts. If you have a talent for turning rubbish into art or you can teach basic bike repair skills, please volunteer yourself to this team.

World Environment Day is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment. Over the years it has grown to be a broad, global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated by stakeholders in over 100 countries. It also serves as the ‘people’s day’ for doing something positive for the environment, galvanizing individual actions into a collective power that generates an exponential positive impact on the planet. Progressio know poor communities suffer the most from environmental damage and from the impacts of climate change. So we work with them to protect the environment, and help them gain fair access to natural resources. And we make sure that their voices are heard by policy-makers wherever it matters, from local up to global level.

Day 5 - Friday 12th August 2016: International Youth Day

Plans for this day revolve around celebrating the achievements of young people and promoting the importance of volunteering. If you've been a volunteer yourself and think you could inspire others to give up their time to enrich others' lives then your story would be very welcome. If you've achieved something incredible, now is the time to shout about it.

International Youth Day has been celebrated since 1998. The engagement and participation of youth is essential to achieve sustainable human development. Yet often the opportunities for youth to engage politically, economically and socially are low or non-existent, that's why it's so important that we empower young people and our peers to be active citizens.

Day 6 - Saturday 15th October 2016: International Day of Rural Women


If you would like to contribute to the plans and success of any of these days please send an email to campaigns@progressio.org.uk outlining what you can bring to the team, feel free to get involved in more than one day! 

Don't forget as an Empower member you can fundraise at any time throughout the year for Progressio using the Progressio pub quiz.