So how did our first interns find WEN's feminist leadership programme?

Shaira Begum shares her thoughts and experiences of her 10 weeks on the programme.


The past ten weeks have been insightful to be part of a dialogue between change makers and the communities that are like me and you. It has been quite inspirational.


My views have been stretched and I’m leaving here thinking about wider issues in the environment and an important one that rarely gets discussed much.

I work in the conservation and environmental sector and truly love my work, and I feel like I’m working towards positive good to make changes I want to see in our world.

But this vison is a blurry one as so very often in the environment sector there is a real lack of diversity, and representation.  I was really pleased to see the WEN internship being funded by ROSA – the UK Fund for Women and Girls, to make it possible for women like myself to be able to take part and have a stake.

I feel like I have refreshed my outlook and perspective with more of a feminist injection. I will go away with more ideas and practical ways to instill a sense of curiosity and empowerment into our learners and participants at Eco Active.

I’m leaving feeling empowered and I’ve taken part in seminars and forums, talking about wider issues about feminism and patriarchy and climate change, the effects this all has in places like the East End of London where I was born and grew up, and on women like me and you. I have been learning about the harmful chemicals in our everyday beauty products, learning about the art of storytelling and most importantly I felt valued by the organisation for my skills and contributions. I feel empowered to know that I can make that difference and that WEN’s emerging environmental leaders programme is part of a movement to grow new feminist leaders in the environmental sector. 

Participatory learning is at the core of WEN, giving everyone an opportunity to share, and contribute ideas, and this has been really great to see in action – decision making using feminist principles. I've met other amazing volunteers from WEN, been able to also equally contribute with team meetings and events has been meaningful for me.  

Next week I shall be co-delivering at a Sustainability Summit at Coventry University.  I’m also working towards finding venues to screen environmental film nights.

Thank you for sharing opportunities WEN. 

Shaira Begum #deedsnotwords





WEN received funding from Rosa: the UK fund for women and girls, to develop a feminist leadership programme for emerging environmental change-makers in Tower Hamlets.  

Over a 12 month period, WEN will work with eight paid interns, supporting them through a tailored programme of training, one-to-one support, practical hands-on work experience and workshops. Many of the workshops will be open to local residents, to help build the skills and confidence to speak out on the environmental issues that matter to them.

The programme also aims to increase the involvement of under-represented groups - particularly Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women- in environmental forums.