Our speakers will share their journeys’ and stories of overcoming the odds, finding the strength, determination, aspiration, persistence, hard work and achievement and how they have navigated to success in their various fields.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown MBE – came to the UK in 1972 from Uganda after completing her undergraduate degree at Makerere University where she was awarded an exceptional first class degree in English. She went to Oxford as a post-graduate student and was awarded an M.Phil in literature in1975. She is a journalist who has written for The Guardian, Observer, The New York Times, Time Magazine, Newsweek, The Evening Standard, the Mail and other newspapers and was a regular columnist on The Independent for 18 years. She now writes columns for I newspaper and also occasional features and columns for the Sunday Times Magazine, Daily Mirror and Mail on Sunday. She is a radio and television broadcaster and author of several books. Her book, No Place Like Home, well received by critics, was an autobiographical account of a twice removed immigrant. From 1996 to 2001 she was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research which published True Colours on the role of government on racial attitudes. Tony Blair launched the book in March 1999. She was a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Centre until 2003. In 2000 she published, Who Do We Think We Are? published in the US too, an acclaimed book on the state of the British nation and another book, After Multiculturalism which looks at the globalised future. She advises various key institutions on race matters. She is also a regular international public speaker in Britain, other European countries, North America and Asian nations. She is a diversity adviser to global companies and organisations. She was a governor of the Royal Shakespeare Company and is on the board of Metal, an innovative arts organisation headed by Jude Kelley who runs the South Bank Centre in London.
Born in Karachi, Pakistan Shabnam came to London with her family at the age of two and settled in the East End of London where she lived and was educated in Newham.
In 1989, despite family and community pressures she achieved her dream goal and joined the Metropolitan Police Service.
Shabnam is a role model, both internally and externallyacross London and has received a number of awards, including the National & International Leadership award in the British Association for Women in Policing (BAWP) for her contributions to policing, in particular her work around forced marriage and Honor Based Violence. During 2017,she was nominated for, and won the national No2H8 Crime Award for her ‘Outstanding Contribution’ to the fight against hate crime.
In 2016 she developed her own unique ‘Girls Allowed’ brand and has hosted themed events across London, the most recent in 2018, Tackling Knife & Hate Crime in Partnership with over 400 attendees, including key note address from the Deputy Mayor of Policing & Crime.
She now leads at Havering, Barking & Dagenham and Redbridge.
In her personal life she enjoys adventure activity travelling to remote places and is known to take on challenges completely outside of her comfort zone. She has cycled, across Vietnam, South Africa and most recently Amritsar to Shimla, covering over 300 miles, accenting to more than 35,000 feet over 10 days into altitude.
Shabnam currently remains the MPS only Muslim female detective at this rank
Kulvinder Ghir is a British actor whose career has spanned over 30 years including a wide range of credits on stage, screen and radio. This year he has completed filming for Series 5 of Still Open All Hours for the BBC reprising the regular role of Cyril. Theatre work this year includes East is East at the Octagon Theatre where he portrayed the role of George.
Kulvinder has also just completed shooting on Beecham House, a new ITV series which is his third collaboration with writer and director Gurinder Chadha. This follows on from his role in the BAFTA nominated film Bend It Like Beckham and his completion filming on Blinded By The Light earlier in the year.
Kulvinder is also well-known as one part of the quartet behind the hugely successful BBC comedy Goodness Gracious Me. Other notable credits include Ritu, Sue & Bob Too and Jadoo. He has also recently voiced the role of Sanjay for the upcoming animation Queens of Corgi alongside Julie Walters and Sheridan Smith.
Running Order for the event:
6.30pm – 7.45pm Doors Open for networking
7.00pm – Canapés Served
8.00pm – Welcome address by Reena Ranger
8.05pm – Address by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
8.15pm – Address by Shabnam Chaudhri
8.25pm – Address by Kulvinder Ghir
8.35pm – Q&A session with panel of speakers
8.50pm – Sponsors address
8.55pm – Closing address and vote of thanks
9pm -10pm – Dinner and Networking
My story, pioneers; the attendees at the latest Women Empowered(WE) event heard the pioneering stories of Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Shabnam Chaudhri and KulvinderGhir.
Reena Ranger, chairperson of WE, welcomed the 100 guests saying that “our speakers are pioneers, within an industry, thought, opinion or their own personal circumstance. Its not easy being first, breaking barriers and putting one’s head above the parapet. It takes courage, resilience and determination. One makes themselves vulnerable, can face negativity and criticism and it can be a very lonely journey. That being said, it can also be a life changing one; changing attitudes, challenging the status quo, inspiring a generation, changing societal attitudes or inspiring a generation. Theirs are the footsteps that others aspire to follow; many will bravely attempt to tread and thus will lead the pathway to change.”
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown; journalist, author and commentator,well known for her sometimes outspoken views and columns in various newspapers, spoke of becoming a journalist at 37 years old. She woke up one morning and decided to write an article. Her one and only contact in the newspaper industry whom she met in her day job, was the person she reached out to. Two days later she was published in The Guardian and 6 months later she had a job. Luck, audacity and a feeling that writing was something that she wanted to do led her to put pen to paper. The battle of “who do you think you are” was a hurdle she had to cross, and it was her resolve that her opinion counted just as much as anyone else’s helped her overcome that hurdle.
Yasmin stressed the importance of courage and speaking one’s mind, treating each other and understanding that we are all equals and our opinions are valid. She spoke of how many first generation immigrants, reluctant to cause trouble, felt like they had to suppress their voices and the next generation should break free from that way of thinking as they belonged and were equal to all others. She emphasised that she never sets out or intends to cause offence and we must be mindful on how we talk to and about each other. She told the audience, “be honest, truthful and courageous but don’t wound people or offend them just because you can.“
Detective Superintendent Shabnam Chaudri, is the Metropolitans Police’s detective at her rank. She spoke of her childhood, driving across six continents from Pakistan to East London. She grew up expressing racism first hand, her parents had forbidden retaliation and emphasised respect, a value she carries with her in life. At 18 marriage was on the forefront of her parents’ mind, but she had her own dreams, to be a police officer. It was a dream that she was to be seemingly unfulfilled as the uniform required a skirt and Shabnam was forbidden to wear them. Undeterred, after 7 years and 4 attempts she was finally accepted into the Metropolitan Police. Her parents accepted that she had the job but Shabnam had to lie to her parents saying that the Met had made an exception for her and she was the only female allowed to wear trousers in the force.
Shabnam spoke of the challenges working in the police force;she persevered and learnt from each lesson. Talking of many of the areas that she had worked in and career highlights she had experienced she passed on some nuggets of advice and emphasised the importance of networking and meeting people. She encouraged people to “let go of “baggage” as it only holds you back”. “Do things out of your comfort zone and take on challenges that are different” she urged. “I had a dream and I followed that dream, follow your dreams, if you got it, fight for it, you can do almost anything you want to do if you believe in yourself.”
Actor, Kulvinder Ghir, best known for his roles in Goodness Gracious Me, spoke candidly and emotionally about his story, of arriving in the UK at the age of seven years old and not speaking English. He spoke of the perceived adventure England would be and even the painful frost wind that welcomed him when he disembarked the plane was fun, because it was different and different was an adventure. He spoke of being received by family members, who lined Kulvinder and his brothers up and allocated football teams to each to support. Kulvinder was allocated Man United. “Man Unite”, he repeated. This became not only a football team to support but the subconscious thread of his life, “man united”. Growing up when he faced challenges and questioned his identity, African, Sikh man, Indian, East Ender, Immigrant, English, Culture his answer came from within “Man United”.
Openly speaking of the sacrifices his mother made, the hard work she endured, the unfailing support she and his father gave to him. Despite being a big family and facing hostility, he spoke of the humour that held the Ghir family together; it was something that was theirs and theirs alone and couldn’t be taken away from them by anyone.
“Wit”, he said was very important in getting him out of trouble against bullies. No one could touch his wit and his teacher asked if he was able to impersonate any famous people and not just the school staff”. That was the catalyst that took him to drama school. Learning about the great playwrights opened up a whole new world of characters he could be. He was on a new adventure, performing, writing sketches at the age of 14 years old. The thirst to know and learn more kept him going, entering competitions and persevering to pursuing drama in college. All the time, his mother was his support and encouragement. She gave him permission to simply be along with his father. He wanted to remember his mother and all she had done for him and remind the many mothers in the audience of what support they can provide and the importance of it. He closed by giving this advice, “if you have dreams and have something to say, within our work we can make a change. We unite, that’s how we make change”
WE is a social initiative which aims to empower women (and men) to make the best of their individual skills and talents and help them to achieve whatever personal and professional goals they have. We work at a grass roots level, trying to ensure we are easily accessible to all who would like to reach us.
WE is open to all, even men. Men are 50% of the population and need to be a part of the discussion so that we can effect change, to our own worlds and the larger one. WE always have a male speaker for a balanced discussion.
WE is open to all
WE aims to:
ENGAGE more into discussion;
ENCOURAGE fresh and varied thinking and perspective;
EMPOWER those present to find the inner confidence to take the next step;
ENABLE and support them through the journey by putting them in touch with organisations that can nurture their ideas and mentors who can assist in achieving those goals and to create a powerful and exciting network for collaboration, support and friendship
Photos from Left to Right
1. Reena Ranger welcoming guests to the event
2. Yasmin Alibhai- Brown addressing the guests
3. Shabnam Chaudhri addressing the guests
4. Kulvinder Ghir addressing the guests
5. Q&A Session
6. Q&A Session
7. Guests at the event
8. (Back row L to R) WE team members Neelu, Dee, Reena, Priti, Kajal
(Front row L to R) Yasmin Alibhai – Brown, Shabnam Chaudhri, Kulvinder Ghir
Disclaimer: Speakers may change without prior notice. All partners at the event are individual third parties and personal due diligence should be done.
Women Empowered shall not take any responsibilities for any transactions done with any third party organisation.
Please Note: Photos and video recordings may be taken at this event and used on social media sites. Anyone that do not want to be included please let the organisers know.