Last week saw a panel of thirteen leading women, the majority of whom live in or are from Bradford, to discuss their success in different industries and how they overcame obstacles in their career paths.
The event on Thursday 30 September was part of Inclusion Week, a week that celebrates inclusion in all its forms. Inclusion Week is in its ninth year and takes place from 29 September to 3 October.
Every year National Inclusion Week has a theme and in 2021 it is about unity. In 2020, 16 million people took park in the week via #NationalInclusionWeek2020, embracing the theme ‘Each One, Reach One’. #UnitedForInclusion is an evolution of the 2020 theme and of the connections that were made.
The Leading the Way event put on by Hattie Charnley-Shaw, project capacity builder and Adeeba Rashid the project coordinator at Race Equality network (REN) included thirteen panellists from different walks of life and organisation and was chaired by Humma Nizami, project manager at REN.
The event was hosted at Bradford City Banqueting Suite and had around 80 guests in attendance, from students at the University of Bradford, volunteers, project partners, and people who were interested in hearing the panellists talk about their lived experience.
The panellists included: Professor Udy Archibong from the University of Bradford, Fatima Khan Shah of West Yorkshire & Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, Dr Halima Begum of the Runnymade Trust, Professor Engbo Emeseh, Dr Tiffany Holloman from Leeds Beckett University, Shamim Akhtar from Roshni Ghar, Khalida Ashrafi, Office of the Chief Executive, Zahra Niazi from Bradford for Everyone, Kaneez Khan from Near Neighbours, Manjit Kaur of Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Sasha Bhat from Bradford NHS, Fiz Ahmed retired police officer at West Yorkshire Police, and Sofia Mahmood of Empowering Minds.
Topics covered at the event included education and overcoming obstacles, the intersection of racism and sexism, and representation.
Project capacity builder Hattie Charnley-Shaw discussed the success of the event. She said: “It was our first live event since the third lockdown. It was important that it was held during Inclusion Week so that we could highlight the importance of celebrating inclusion, whether that is religion, age, sexuality, or disability for example.
“As we are the Race Equality Network it was important to us that when we selected the panellists that they were all from Black or Asian heritage backgrounds. It was also important to us that most of the panellists live in or is from Bradford, to make the discussion specific to the area we operate in.
“A few weeks ago, at the beginning of September we held a similar panel, but it was for the wider Northern community that was called ‘Pay and progression’.
The panellists were chosen by REN for their contribution to their respective industries. Ms Charnley-Shaw said: “The panellists were chosen to represent different organisations and groups, to show that Black and South Asian women can become directors or hold doctorates, for example, despite challenges that they may face.
“The conference ran for three hours, but on reflection we should have held it for longer so the audience could have asked all the questions they wanted. It is also important to know that these women are just a sample of leaders from across the district, other women in Bradford are just as important as the women who were invited to speak at the event.”
“The response to the event was fantastic. People said they felt really empowered at the talk”, says Ms Charnley-Shaw. She added: “There were tears from both panellists and guests alike”.
One guest said: “This was my first event post-pandemic. It was amazing to hear from women from different cultures go through the same hardship and still come out the other end to help women.”
This event is the first of many, with REN eager to promote young women from Black and Asian to achieve their career and life goals. The network plan on launching a full women’s conference in the near future to promote more leaders and prominent community members from Bradford.