International Women’s Day: ‘Stand up and speak out to affect change’ (Photo credit: AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
by LAUREN CODLING
THIS year’s theme for International Women’s Day is Each for Equal. To mark the occasion on Sunday (8), Eastern Eye approached a number of inspirational women to find out what pledge or change they would be committing to making this year in order to make a gender equal world.
Rupinder Bains, director at The Football Association (FA)
The world has made significant progress towards gender equality, but there is still a long way to go before women from all backgrounds live in a truly equal society. I pledge to use my role as a director on the board of The Football Association and as the managing director of a law firm to instill in our younger generation of girls, pride and strength of character to work hard to achieve their ambitions, with the knowledge that doors can open and ceilings can be broken. I want to encourage men and boys to share in this journey and recognise that women are one of the most powerful investments we can make in building a better future.
Poppy Jaman OBE, CEO of City Mental Health Alliance
I hope for a time when you can be a woman anywhere in the world and feel safe, respected and proud. I will be building a community of Asian women to shine a light on our power, elegance, professions by building a positive new narrative of our successes and our identity.
Ranvir Singh, journalist and political editor of Good Morning Britain
I’m working with Refuge this year for international Women’s Day and it’s my pledge to promote and champion women’s ambitions and justice for women by highlighting the work of this incredible charity. One in four women will experience domestic abuse over the course of her lifetime, so there is still so much work to be done.
Asma Khan, restaurateur and founder of Darjeeling Express
I want to help mentor female founders who are planning to open food businesses/restaurants who may have had an unconventional journey to hospitality and may lack a network in the industry.
Ayesha Vardag, solicitor and founder & president of Vardags
I will support working parents so that working mothers don’t have to have their careers veer off course in order to have a family. Too many women either put off having children or fall behind in their careers because there is too little focus on making work and parenting compatible. I want to lead by example by tearing down the wall separating mothers from the world of independent money, power and influence.
Roma Agrawal MBE, structural engineer
My pledge for 2020 is to continue finding innovative ways of communicating how exciting and wonderful a career in engineering is to the most diverse audience possible. In order to create a dynamic workforce in engineering and construction, it’s vital that young people, who might not otherwise consider careers in these fields, are engaged with. I’m passionate about ensuring that more women join our profession and will continue my work to achieve this.
Ira Read, global head of diversity and talent at Diageo
I remain committed to help build a world where we aim to level the playing field for people who are underrepresented. In my view, it’s essential that we continue to create conditions in society where people feel that their voice is “heard” and they are recognised for their different perspectives. Building a gender equal world is just the beginning – when we share our own stories about vulnerability, we open the door for others to also share their own experiences. I’m proud that Diageo is leading this commitment into the future.
Shobna Gulati, actress
I pledge to continue to encourage safe places for understanding, inclusivity and respect for one another as human beings; to actively encourage and to be consistent through being conscious with language used around specifically women, gender and equality: in order to continue to actively discourage in my everyday physical presence, virtual or online life any toxic, sexually violent, discriminatory, sexist, negative, homophobic, transphobic, prejudiced , harmful behaviours. I pledge to always stand up, highlight and speak out in order to continue to affect change.
Andria Zafirakou MBE, teacher and 2018 Global Teacher Prize winner
My pledge is to continue to be a positive and inspiring role model to many young people who I teach and also to my own daughters so that they know that there are no ceilings to what they can achieve.
Rosie Ginday MBE, founder and managing director of Miss Macaroon
This year I pledge to provide leadership opportunities for young women who need a helping hand to gain the confidence and skills to get back into work through Miss Macaroon’s Macaroons that Make A Difference course and graduate Board member opportunities.
Sukhi Jutla, entrepreneur and co-founder of MarketOrders
Financial equality is a vital complement of ensuring a gender-equal world as it ensures opportunities are available to all and not just those who can afford it. My pledge this year will be to ensure there is gender pay transparency in my company to ensure equal pay for equal work.
Renuka Jeyarajah-Dent OBE, deputy CEO of Coram
My great grandfather received an honour almost a century ago for services to education in Sri Lanka and it is education that is the focus for my pledge. We have done much in this country to reduce teenage pregnancy and educate girls about their right to choose. However, we have had less success with girls in care where early motherhood is too often associated with the pain of subsequent removal of the baby in to care and reduced educational outcomes. We have to do more as a society for these girls. We owe them that.
Professor Kalwant Bhopal, professor of education and social justice at University of Birmingham Edgbaston
My pledge in 2020 – and beyond – is to encourage colleagues in the higher education sector to acknowledge the presence of institutional racism and white privilege – and how this particularly disadvantages women of colour – and to address the inequalities that women of colour face so that they question and change their own practices.
Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, British nurse and emeritus professor of nursing at University of West London
As a grandmother I will continue to encourage confidence in my granddaughter – she once told me “You are so special to me because… You buy me books with powerful women in!” As a national public speaker and Emeritus Professor of Nursing, I will share my journey as a black woman who successfully overcame a myriad of challenges in order to motivate the next generation.
Eartha Pond, councillor and Grenfell campaigner
I pledge to conduct research and identify possible solutions into barriers impacting female participation in physical activity. In order to challenge NGO’s and Industry experts to drive inclusion for all proactively above and beyond current drop off rates.
Yuman Hussain, executive director of the Azad India Foundation and a Malala Fund Education Champion
India is struggling to advance gender equality and gendered norms that exist at the community and government level — these have a huge impact on girls’ access to education. I will work to ensure girls receive equal opportunities and access to quality education in a safe learning environment. Empowered girls can voice their opinion and challenge the structural and gender-based inequality.
Shareefa Energy, spoken word poet and writer
The pledge I am making to make a gender equal world in 2020 is to go after opportunities women are usually excluded from and to have conversations with men in community spaces to support their emotional well-being to benefit their growth and women in the long term. I will also encourage women and girls to participate in martial arts.
Bharti Patel, managing director of Avicenna
I pledge to continue to be an authentic leader through inspiring and supporting others to unlock their true potential.