VERVE Community: Toulouse, France

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Our community of feminists who give a fuck is growing stronger and stronger in Toulouse.

Let's orientate ourselves first, who are we and where are we?  Toulouse sits in South-West France, equidistant between the Atlantic ocean, the Mediterranean sea and the Pyrenees Mountain range. Its an international hub for engineering, science and aerospace which has drawn folk from around the world. I'm a freelance coach and trainer in leadership skills, I lecture in gender equity in business, NGO's and am an expert in international relocation and leadership', I've been living here for the last 6 years.

An ex-pat community can in some ways be a little traditional so it was with trepidation that I began advertising the first Verve Prosecco think-tank.  France is still behind in its image and understanding of feminism and equality so advertising a feminist think -tanks could be seen as an openly aggressive act towards men. I was delighted to find a tribe of people immediately drawn to the think-tank, and not just for the Prosecco. Our first PTT was astonishing, we had women who thought deeply, gave a fuck, routinely fought the system and won, highlighted inequality, understood the patriarchy and its impact on their lives and the lives of their children and demanded more for themselves. It was fun, serious, deep and very special.

The second PTT in February was just as lovely, small but perfect. We were a group of women who had lived internationally in various countries for many years and so the flavour of the meeting was about the international experience of being a woman. What was it like working around the world, how were women seen and treated. What were maternity rights like in various countries and what factors held back women's careers? Utterly fascinating.  

I've found that the PTT become a safe space where we can share, discuss, feel vulnerable and feel supported. As I work in various places around Toulouse  I meet more and more women who want to be involved in Verve and the Prosecco Think-Tanks. We have the next Two planned already: one to be held south of Toulouse with an entirely new group of women and one planned for Toulouse city centre.

As the Verve Community in Toulouse grows, so does the tentacles' of its impact. Women putting themselves first, thinking about the inequalities they see around them, feeling empowered and empowering others. The energy spreads and the momentum keeps on increasing.

One more great thing has come out of our community; we are increasing the awareness of Obstetric Fistulas, raising funds for The Fistula Foundation and excitingly are looking to see how we can support the training of more female Obstetric surgeons in Afghanistan. Keep an ear out for news on that this coming year.


Article by VERVE Operative Amber Kibby