Valentina Di Felice – Women’s Day
Valentina is Womanity’s Head of Operations. Since 2010, she has contributed to design, shape and supervise the foundation’s media programs in the MENA region and the educational program in Afghanistan. Since 2016, she has been involved in designing the foundation’s strategy and its outcome framework. She currently supervises ad-interim Womanity’s communications.
Womanity: Who are you Valentina?
Valentina Di Felice: I am an observer and a mediator. I like teams who work in harmony and this stimulates me to find a middle ground among different perspectives and personalities. In being a supervisor of activities rather than a direct implementer, I see myself as a bridge builder between different stakeholders and instances. This position allows me to offer projects a critical perspective from a distance, but, at the same time, I like to stay strongly connected with the teams on the ground because I want to be able to convey their ideas and their daily challenges, problems and successes.
Womanity: What is special about the way Womanity communicates?
VdF: Given the small size of Womanity, it is incredible what we are able to achieve. This is possible because we have a strongly motivated team and we are fast in the decision making process.
There is a strong emphasis on collaboration and this maximizes the expertise that we are able to deploy for each project.
We see our communications as a way to share our knowledge and to highlight successes of others in order to create a deeper conversation on the topics we care of.
Womanity: What does “Bold For Change” mean in your day to day work at Womanity?
VdF: “Bold For Change” means the decision to tackle women’s empowerment in a way that is different from what is commonly understood.
For example, when we discussed adding vocational training for our students in Afghanistan, we were very strong in saying that our direction was not the typical one of teaching embroidery or baking. In line with our DNA, we wanted to offer something disruptive and we launched a coding and web development class.
Similarly, our media programs are not just to discuss women’s issues but rather to move away from the stereotypical image of women in media (that sadly is typical of the majority of main stream media) and to expose women and men alike to this new message. Our ambition is to operate within the media industry and outside the typical perimeter of NGOs projects. I think this is a fundamental paradigm shift.
A more practical example is to ensure that our service providers, when offering services to us, engage as much as possible women in their companies.
Womanity: What have you learned from working with the team that you also use in other parts of your life?
VdF: During my time at Womanity, I saw that conflicts or criticisms were often managed in a way aimed at encouraging the counter parts to work more professionally and strive for better results, in order to avoid them feeling criticized and becoming defensive. This is very difficult to achieve. I wish I could be able to refine and use this skill in all aspects of my life.
Womanity: How can people best prepare when they want to work for, or support, an organisation that has the remit to empower women and amplify their work?
VdF: I would say that, as for everything else one cares about, people should read and learn about the topic; get involved in the work of organisations they trust; understand why this matters for their personal experience and life and be able to dig deeper in the subject. It is also important to positively challenge established approaches and results and bring in new perspectives and ideas.