For the past few years ROSL has marked International Women’s Day with a stimulating debate focusing on the challenges and opportunities unique to women in different fields. Last year, we examined the lack of women represented in science and technology and debated the reasons for this unbalanced gender representation and, most importantly, how to overcome it. This year in celebration of 100 years since the first women were granted the vote in 1918, our International Women’s Day Debate will focus on women and politics.
Our debate is set to cover a range of topics, from examining the backlash against female leaders, to increasing female participation in politics, and what greater gender balance in politics will mean for our communities. These are the cutting-edge questions being asked by both the general public and politicians themselves, and in order to better understand them, we have invited some of the brightest minds to share their thoughts with us this evening.
Chairing the event and invited to do so by the Chair of our Younger Member Committee is Deeba Syed. Deeba has recently been awarded a place on Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme, a mentoring scheme designed to help women into senior political roles. Deeba works full time as a lawyer at RBS, is on the National Executive Committee of the Young Fabians and Chair of the Young Labour Lawyers.
Our first speaker is Akeela Ahmed, an equalities campaigner specialising in youth and gender issues. In 2016 she founded ‘She Speaks We Hear’, an online platform to bring together women’s voices in an unaltered and unadulterated forum. Currently she works as a Ministerially-appointed UK government advisor, sitting on the Cross Government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred based at the UK Department for Communities and Local Government. Last year Akeela helped organise the Women’s March on London, held in response to the election and inauguration of Donald Trump due to his comments about women.
Also joining our panel is Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Emmeline and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst and a leading women’s rights activist. Recently, Helen has written a book called Deeds not Words: The story of Women’s Rights Then And Now examines six areas – politics, money, identity, violence, culture, and power – and looks at the progress in each since the time of the suffragettes. Her book will be on sale on the night. Helen also works for CARE International, working in both the UK and Ethiopia. During the debate she will highlight the diverse problems women still face outside of the UK but how the UK can also learn from the world when it comes to women in politics.
We will be announcing further speakers in due course. For now, if you would like to book onto our event you can do so here.