• Saturday, May 21, 2022

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Runnymede’s new director Dr Halima Begum calls for unity of all communities to fight ‘discrimination’

As a disabled Muslim woman raised in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Dr Halima Begum is a lifelong campaigner for equality and civil rights.

By: Pramod Thomas

A LIFELONG campaigner for equality and civil rights Dr Halima Begum has been appointed as the new director of the Runnymede Trust, effective August 31, 2020.

Raised in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, she joined Runnymede in 1998 as a researcher on the commission on the future of multi-ethnic Britain, before taking up positions with Action Aid and the LSE centre for civil society.

Runnymede is the UK’s leading independent race equality think tank. It generates intelligence to challenge racial inequality in Britain through research, network building, leading debate, and policy engagement.

“I feel a deep sense of responsibility returning to the Runnymede Trust at this point in history, as the shockwaves of George Floyd’s death continue to reverberate around the world. We are reminded that now, as much as ever, our communities must stand united in the fight to eradicate racism, Islamophobia and Antisemitism – indeed, all forms of discrimination and structural inequality,” said Dr Begum.

“For over 50 years, the Runnymede Trust has helped to define Britain’s path towards racial equality. Although our work is far from over, it is a privilege to join the remarkable team who uphold the finest traditions of our organisation as we continue to confront racism in all its forms.”

A disabled Muslim woman, Dr Begum’s experience spans sectors including education, human rights, public health, the environment, and post-conflict reconstruction.

She co-founded women sgainst racism, in early-90s, to combat the rising incidence of racism and Islamophobia in east London. Now, she sits on the board of various organisations including the Labour campaign for human rights and Toynbee Hall.

She has also held senior leadership positions such as first secretary with department for international development (DFID), director of the British Council in Asia, and vice president of the LEGO foundation.

In the past, she coordinated the Sino-British government action plan to reduce food insecurity due to climate change, led the UK effort in promoting girls’ education in Pakistan, and headed collaborations between science and technology institutions in Britain and south east Asia.

Sir Clive Jones, chair of the Runnymede Trust, said: “We are delighted to welcome Halima as the new director of Runnymede. She will be a worthy successor to Dr Omar Khan and I have no doubt she will take our research and campaigning work to a new level

“I would like to thank interim director Zubaida Haque, and the Runnymede team for their tireless hard work over the last few months, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic and the aftermath of George Floyd’s tragic death, when racial inequality and racism have been at the heart of national conversations.”

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