Dartmouth-based Stacey Sheppard, the founder of The Tribe, has joined UN Women UK as a delegate for CSW68 (Commission on the Status of Women)

UN Women UK is the UK arm of the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.

From March 11 to 22, the sixty-eighth session of the Commission will take place live from the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

During this global annual conference, world leaders, governments and NGOs will gather to discuss a key priority theme that impacts gender equality across the globe.

Each year, the theme is linked to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and prioritises an often-neglected area of women’s rights and empowerment. For 2024, the theme is “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective”.

Stacey,says: “Joining the UN Women UK delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women is a huge privilege and something that I feel really passionate about.

CSW was established in 1946 and has been instrumental in documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world and shaping global standards on gender equality.

Being able to take part in this year’s event will enable me to deepen my knowledge and understanding of the issues surrounding gender equality and to improve my own contribution to the cause.”

Stacey opened The Tribe in Totnes in January 2020 as she wanted to help women in rural Devon to overcome some of the societal and systemic barriers that often prevent them from starting and growing businesses at the same rate as men. She believed that creating a safe space for women to come together to tackle some of these issues would lead to more women having the confidence to follow their dreams of self-employment and business growth despite the challenges.

Stacey says: “When I decided to open a coworking space for women in 2019, I was already passionate about helping to close the gender gap for women in business. But I wasn’t really aware of the enormity of the issue.”

It was the NatWest Rose Review that highlighted the barriers that women face and made Stacey realise that whilst she alone couldn’t solve any of these issues for local women, she could at least create an environment that would help to make the journey of entrepreneurship that little bit easier for them.

“Women typically have low awareness of and access to finance, greater risk awareness, perceived missing skills and experience, disproportionate primary care responsibilities and a lack of relatable mentors, role models and networks,” says Stacey.

“I knew that I could help with four out of five of these barriers by providing a supportive network, mentorship opportunities, signposting to funding and training, and an environment where we can reframe risk and imposter syndrome into something beneficial for business growth.”

As a UN Women UK delegate to CSW68, Stacey and other delegates will be able to choose from hundreds of official, side and parallel events to attend and take part in virtually. The dedicated online platform for the UK delegates also allows participants to network with like-minded community members who share an interest in women’s equality.

Stacey says, “This is such a fantastic opportunity to take part in leading conversations on gender equality and hear from experts, decision makers, grass roots organisations and activists, as well as supporters and allies from around the world. I’m particularly interested in how we can close the funding gap for women.”

Finance and funding are the number one barrier that women in the UK face and this is something that Stacey is all too aware of. “I am currently at a critical point with my own business growth,” says Stacey who is about to move into a bigger space so that she can better cater to the needs of the women in her coworking community.”