An extraordinary initiative by W100 to highlight the fortitude and contributions of 100 very diverse women in Brussels – women who made different contributions for gender equality and inclusion, throughout the COVID19 crisis.

Coming from different neighbourhoods, sectors and backgrounds, these 100 women were an example of how women were vital actors during the pandemic – and are normally the backbone of society during multiple crisis.

W100, a community of diverse women who works to connect and amplify the voices and actions of women in Brussels, has put together a social media campaign, and then a public exhibition of 100 portraits of diverse women, which occupied the heart of the Belgian capital, the Bourse. These 100 pictures displayed the many ways in which women had supported their communities throughout the challenging context of lockdowns and pandemics.

Our CEO, Claudia de Castro Caldeirinha, was one of the honoured 100. For her work on gender equality, her support to circles of women during lockdown, and multiple initiatives to campaign and advocate for women, inclusion and equality, with authorities and EU institutions. For her, “it was an enormous privilege to see my work recognized, and to connect with all these remarkable women from different parts of Brussels who share the same values of human rights and inclusion.”

The exhibition was also a unique opportunity to reclaim the public space and to make women’s voices heard. Meaningful connections, emotions, testimonials, and a great sense of community were present in the day of the inauguration. A feeling of solidarity and allyship was forged/nourished that day. The dance proposed by the Polish organisation ‘Elles pour Elles’ (which works to prevent domestic violence), transformed the occasion in a celebration of women, health, peace, community. All these are fundamental elements for a healthy society.

In conclusion, women are precious actors during any crisis, and it is important to recognise their efforts. Initiatives like W100 and this exhibition reinforce women’s action, collective solidarity, and inspires others to contribute to their communities. In Brussels, and beyond.