Rupa Ganatra Popat and Rupal Sachdev Kantaria

A DIVERSE group of speakers took part in a first-of-its-kind event in the House of Commons last Friday (8), where they shared stories of achievement and challenges
in their struggle for gender parity.

Hosted by Lord Dolar and Lady Sandhya Popat, the BAME International Women’s Day Speaker Showcase featured 25 speakers, including women’s rights advocate Baroness Prashar, fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, chef Asma Khan and transgender female activist Nour Shaker Fayed.

Chaired by former Lords speaker Baroness D’Souza, a women’s rights champion for many years, the event highlighted the message of community and allyship.

Jewish actress Tracy-Ann Oberman made a powerful plea for people to start listening to each other.

“In an age of social media echo chambers, we have forgotten how to listen,” she said. “Don’t accuse women’s voices of being shrill. Don’t interrupt with your opinions. Don’t rush in with your judgments. Just listen. You will be surprised at how much you might learn.”

Commenting on the showcase, Rupal Sachdev Kantaria, director at Oliver Wyman, stressed the need for inclusion.

“…The issues we sought to raise went beyond ethnicities and gender. It is about us all. The focus of the voices profiled were BAME women, but our message was clearly inclusion,” she said.

Rupa Ganatra Popat, co-founder and CEO of the FUTR Group, said: “If we are prepared to challenge the status quo, leave our comfort zones and take risks, I truly believe the sky is the limit.”

The 170-strong audience of parliamentarians, charities, schools and private sector leaders, were invited to join the conversation online at #IWD4BAME.