On Thursday 24th January Women Empowered, the social initiative aimed at championing issues for women, held its latest event titled, “Is it a Man’s World?”. The event was to focus on women who have made great strides in politics, which has been regarded as a male dominated arena. The sold out event was sponsored by KMPG and featured Priti Patel MP, Cllr Lurline Champagnie OBE and Cllr Mimi Harker OBE. Seema Malhotra MP, who was due to attend was unfortunately delayed abroad.

The speakers shared their life experiences, obstacles faced and how they had overcome them along with the experiences what had led them into the political world.

L-R Top – Rajesh Agrawal, Rishi Rich, Tasmin Lucia-Khan, Mona Remtulla, Reena Ranger, Kiran Sharma, Anjali Pathak, Kulveer Singh Ranger, Seated L-R, Cllr Lurline Champagnie OBE, Cllr Mimi Harker OBE & Priti Patel MP Guests at the Event

Kulveer Ranger, former advisor to The Mayor of London, gave the key note address offering a male perspective to the issues raised.

Marianne Fallon, Partner, Executive Board Member, UK Head of Corporate Affairs & UK Head of Charities at KPMG shared her views on diversity and the need for women in the corporate world. She said that sadly the figures of women in the Parliamentary world were faring better than those in the corporate world at board level and spoke on what KPMG are doing to tackle some of the issues raised on the evening.

Reena Ranger, Chairwoman, and Mona Remtulla, co-founder of Women Empowered, welcomed the guests and spoke about how the event had been meant to be about experiences in the political world but recent news & events had raised issues as to why we needed more female representation throughout the civic processes. Getting involved did not necessarily mean becoming a member of parliament but getting involved at any level, from residents associations to boards of governors in schools, from charitable trusts to local government and beyond.

 Reena Ranger, Marianne Fallon of KPMG, Mona Remtulla Cllr. Mimi Harker OBE Mr Kulveer Singh Range, former advisor to The Mayor of London addressing the Guests

Reena Ranger, Chairwoman Cllr Lurline Champagnie OBE addressing the guests  

Priti Patel, MP for Witham and the first female Asian MP for the Tory party, who had worked in both the political and corporate world said there were not enough in either. She stated that she was against positive discrimination and quotas particularly since there was a limitless pool of talented women which needed to be tapped into. She also added that women should also help other women. We should not be frightened to challenge social norms, push boundaries and pick ourselves up from failures and move onwards and learn from every challenge and setback.

Cllr. Lurline Champagnie OBE, the first British Caribbean Councillor of Harrow Council, Mayor of Harrow in 2004/2005 and Chairman of Harrow West Conservative Association, gave a passionate speech in which she said that whatever you want you should go for it; one has to be strong and believe in themselves and not consider themselves the weaker sex. She added that there are obstacles in all paths of life and that she had entered politics at a time when there were very few women or people of colour, let alone women of colour. She emphasised that there is more than one way to get round your obstacles; you can go under them, over them and around them. As a woman she recounted a number of personal anecdotes which illustrated her sheer determination to succeed and be the best at what she was doing, always giving more than 100%.

Cllr. Mimi Harker OBE, the first Asian Mayor of Amersham, spoke how she had entered politics in an unexpected way when she opposed a new property development in her local area. She spoke candidly of the challenges she had faced and sometimes of having to exert herself in what is a male dominated environment . She urged those present that they should show a dogged determination to succeed and achieve their objectives regardless of opposition faced. Mimi addressed the importance of getting involved and how it could benefit the local area and the country as a whole. Nationally, Cllr Harker, is responsible for the 12A cinema classification and founded the national ‘Save Our Post Office’ Campaign. She has worked on the Cross Party Task Force encouraging women to participate in public life.

Mr Kulveer Singh Ranger spoke about how he too has worked in both political and commercial worlds and also had noticed the lack of women in both at a certain level. He also commented on the unfortunate fact that when some women achieve senior positions they are labelled as alpha females and somehow this implies that they have to become like men to succeed. He acknowledged that women brought many qualities including compassion and intuition to the table, but were often told to exclude these from their work to the loss of the organisation they were engaged with.

Women Empowered had collaborated with Conservative Women’s Network and Fabian Women’s Network, who offered advice & courses which can be used in many walks of life. Women Empowered championed and thanked Sabiha Hudda-Khakhu of ISHK Photography for the pictures the world would see.

The evening then progressed to a Q&A session with questions being taken from the floor followed by dinner and networking.

—For more details of the next event please go to www.womenempowered.co.uk


February 2013

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