The aim of the Women of the Year Foundation is to help women to fulfil their potential and become, in their own context, future Women of the Year. We do this in a tangible way by offering financial and practical support through small grants that enable disadvantaged women both in the UK and abroad to start over and improve their lives either through retraining or in business, thereby improving their own lives and contributing to their communities.

Since its launch, the Foundation has given out many small grants totalling over £250,000 to individual women and organisations that seek to support women, to help them bring their dreams alive and achieve their ambitions.

‘We all know that the first step in any process can be the most difficult,’ says Joan Armatrading, singer, songwriter, former Women of the Year chairman and currently patron of the Foundation. ‘The Foundation represents that important outstretched hand of encouragement.’

These are some of the fantastic organisations and worthwhile initiatives we have backed in 2016.

Coaching Inside and Out

Coaching Inside and Out (CIAO) provides life coaching for men, women and children in prison and in the community.

CIAO wants to do much more than simply reduce crime – they want to create lifelong change. Whilst they absolutely do want people to stop offending – for their sakes and for the sake of others and our communities – their aim goes beyond that. Coaching helps to get to the root of problems and beliefs and hopes to unlock potential, break old patterns of behaviour and overturn negative assumptions that stop people changing.

CIAO’s 30 coaches have helped more than 600 people since they began in 2010 in Styal women’s prison in Cheshire. The vast majority of their clients are women who have committed offences or are at risk of doing so, and CIAO helps them to change their lives which in turn strengthens their families and communities. Women have reduced the harm they do to others and themselves, have been reunited with their children, taken up education, got fit, got jobs and started businesses. Many go on to give something back and some have even become coaches themselves.

WOYF’s grant will fund CIAO’s inspirational Managing Director, Clare McGregor, to secure contracts and donations of over £150,000, meaning that they can offer over 1500 coaching sessions to create sustainable change.

The Story Museum

The Story Museum in Oxford celebrates story in all forms and explores their enduring power to teach and delight.

Despite Oxford’s international status as a centre of learning excellence, Oxford and Oxfordshire are polarised by inequality in educational achievement and half the children leaving the primary schools serving the ring road estates are functionally illiterate.

The Story Museum’s mission is to promote literacy and creativity by enabling children, young people and their families – particularly those from disadvantaged and word-poor households – to explore and enjoy stories in all forms. Their interactive and immersive approach to storytelling offers an accessible and enjoyable way for families to spend time together in a stimulating and learning environment.

The Foundation is funding 225 ‘Golden Tickets’ which provide free entry to The Story Museum, encouraging children and their families to visit and be inspired to read.

Projects for All – Gift Augustine

The horrifying practices of female genital mutilation, breast ironing and sleeping with the dead continue to be widespread in Nigeria. Last year the Foundation provided funds to Projects for All to support the incredible remarkable work of Gift Augustine, a trained nurse who has coordinated groups of women as community volunteers. They travel to at-risk villages to talk to the men and women about the dangers and injustices of these practices. Gift’s vital work is still saving the lives of girls and women on a daily basis, and we are delighted to fund her again this year.


PLAY 4 CALAIS is a grass-roots initiative that provides pop-up cinema, safe-play, football and cricket to the children, teenagers and adult refugees living in the migrant camps around Calais known as The Jungle. Their motto is “be a light in the dark”, which is literally and figuratively what they are to the refugees who use their services.

The Women and Children’s Centre focuses on female refugees, whose direct and specific needs often get overlooked by larger organisations and charities. The women and girls come from the conflict zones of Afghanistan, Syria, Ethiopia, Iraq and Libya and from all socio-economic walks of life. Many have had arduous journeys and suffered traumas such as rape and/or violence along the way. These women fight tirelessly to hold their family’s mental health and sense of hope together, whilst still continuing to feed and clothe their children on the irregular hand-outs of strangers.

The Foundation has offered funding for a number of trips out to Calais, as well as essential supplies for women and children including underwear, sanitary wear, toiletries and baby formula and wipes.

The Marie Colvin Journalists’ Network

Journalism can be a difficult and dangerous profession – no one understood that better than the Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin, who was tragically killed in 2102 while reporting from Syria.

In 2001 Marie was awarded the first Women of the Year Window to the World Award which recognised her courageous and significant contribution to journalism. She covered conflicts in the Balkans, Chechnya, The Middle East, including Syria and, memorably, East Timor, where she famously helped to save the lives of 1,500 women and children besieged in a compound by Indonesian troops.

“These are people who have no voice,” she said at the time. “I feel I have a moral responsibility towards them, that it would be cowardly to ignore them. If journalists have a chance to save their lives, they should do so.”

The Marie Colvin Journalists’ Network is part of The Circle, a charity started by Annie Lennox in 2008 to inspire and connect women to harness their skills, creativity and influence and become catalysts for change. The Network will create an online community for female journalists working in the Arab World, an area where it is particularly difficult for women to participate in the media. These women operate in an isolated, risky and challenging environment, often facing violence, harassment and discrimination while reporting stories of global importance. It will provide a unique space for practical advice, mentoring, and discussion of global issues.

WOYF is delighted to support this important initiative and to honour Marie’s memory.

Marie Colvin

Girl Up Initiative Uganda

Girl Up Initiative Uganda (GUIU) is a young-women led organisation working to provide young women and girls with opportunities to succeed and thrive as leaders in their slum communities through an holistic education and economic empowerment programme.

One of their projects is the Adolescent Girls Programme (AGP) which teaches girls aged 9 – 15 years in primary schools in the urban slums of Kampala about life skills, human rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender based violence. The programme helps these young girls improve their confidence so they stay in school, confront or avoid? gender-based violence, avoid early pregnancy and marriage, and have access to equal economic opportunities.

AGP also provides long-term support and guidance through a year-long programme that includes training, individual support and weekly Girl Up Club meetings. These meetings are a space where girls can seek further counselling and advice, and learn hands-on skills such as making mats, bags, jump ropes and reusable sanitary pads. They are also taught about stress and coping mechanisms through yoga and gardening.

The WOYF grant will enable GUIU to expand the AGP to a further primary school in Kampala.