Photo: Phil Poynter
Sophie Walker is the leader of the Women’s Equality Party, a new collaborative force in British politics uniting people of all genders, diverse ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, beliefs and experiences in the shared determination to see women enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men so that all can flourish.
She worked as an international news agency journalist for nearly twenty years and is also an ambassador for the National Autistic Society, campaigning for better support and understanding of autism, particularly in women and girls.
Rachel Moran was prostituted for seven years in Dublin and other Irish cities, beginning when she was fifteen-years-old. She managed to extricate herself from prostitution in 1998, at the age of 22. In the millennium year she returned to education and completed a degree in Journalism from Dublin City University. She has been involved in the political push for the Nordic Model in Ireland since she first addressed the crowd gathered at the launch of the Turn Off The Red Light campaign in February, 2011. She has spoken at numerous international locations, including the United Nations Plaza in New York and Boston’s Harvard University. She works in conjunction with the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and the European Women’s Lobby. Her memoir ‘Paid For’ has just been published by Gill and Macmillan.
Rebecca Beegan works for the The Men's Development Network and is the campaign coordinator for Turn Off The Red Light | End Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in Ireland. She works with survivors of prostitution and sexual exploitation, groups, policy makers, and international organisations, challenging men's violence against women within communities. She holds a BA(h) in Applied Studies in Social Care and MA in Research.
Lydia is a gender, conflict and peacebuilding expert with over twelve years’ experience working on fragile and conflict affected states. She has particular expertise in South Sudan where she lived for seven years advising on a range of programmes at grassroots and policy level, latterly serving as a Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare. Lydia has also advised the UK and Danish governments on issues of security sector reform and gender. She seeks to go beyond textbook recommendations and find locally applicable solutions to gender and security challenges.
Lydia is the author of several peer-reviewed publications on the subjects of gender and security in South Sudan and currently works for the London-based consultancy Social Development Direct where she recently led an evaluation of the UK’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
Wendi Momen holds a BSc in Economics and a Ph.D. in International Relations, both from the London School of Economics where she is a Governor and works as a book editor. She was awarded the MBE in 2014 for services to the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and to the community in Bedfordshire.
Her passions are:
- the advancement of women
- sustainable development
- business ethics
- service to the community
- combating social injustice, poverty and inequality
She has been a magistrate since 1982 and is chair of the family lay judges. She co-founded ebbf in 1990 (Ethical Business Building the Future www.ebbf.org) and is currently chair. She is a member of a number of boards, including the International Environment Forum, National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the UK, the Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation, and the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations.
She is a founder of Advance, which promotes justice, education and empowerment for women, and Naserian, which empowers Maasai widows in Tanzania.
She is the multi-faith chaplain at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon.
Dr. Mrs. Nemata Majeks-Walker started her career in education in Sierra Leone and later the USA and UK. She is currently a dynamic international consultant and an experienced facilitator/trainer, campaigner and lobbyist, who has travelled the world to share her expertise in gender, leadership, advocacy and politics since 1999. She has worked with aspiring women politicians, civil society activists, youths, members of the media, and various international organizations.
In 2001, she founded the 50/50 Group of Sierra Leone, which is similar to the “300 Group” that had been set up in England by Lesley Abdela. Her Group is a non-partisan campaign for equal representation of women and men in politics and public life through training and advocacy. The Group encourages and empowers women to participate in politics.
Her work with the 50/50 Group saw the organisation become the first African group and the third globally to win the coveted Madeleine Albright Award in 2007. The Award was created to honour annually, an organization that exhibits exceptional promise in creating a greater role for women in political and civic life.
In one of her consultancies, she helped to produce a women’s manifesto in Liberia; trained prospective women candidates in the October 2005 general election, which ushered in the first female president in West Africa. In 2010, she worked with UNIFEM as a Senior Gender & Elections Advisor in Juba (Southern Sudan) and Tanzania and educated women on their civic rights and responsibilities in the electoral process and the general public on the role that women can play in the public domain.
Today, as Chair of the Group’s Fundraising Committee, she is involved in raising funds to see the Group’s headquarters and Gender and Women’s Leadership Training Institute building completed at Tower Hill, strategically situated only a few hundred yards from the nation’s Parliament building.
Houzan Mahmoud is a Kurdish women’s rights campaigner, writer and representative of the Organisations of Women's Freedom in Iraq. She was born in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1973 and currently residing in London. Her articles on gender based violence and women’s rights, were published in UK and international publications. Houzan led many campaigns internationally, including campaigns against the rape and abduction of women in Iraq, and against the imposition of Islamic sharia law in Kurdistan and Iraqi constitution. She led many other campaigns around the world against so-called honour killings, and against violation of freedom of expression. She has an MA in Gender Studies from London University. Her blog can be found here.
Silvia Cormaci is currently the Women and Girls Programme Coordinator at Antislavery International. She is responsible for the management of different projects supporting women and girls victims of slavery, in particular migrant domestic workers, in Latin America, Africa, South Asia and the Middle East.
Before joining Antislavery International, she worked for 6 years as a Gender Specialist for the International Labour Organization (ILO) in the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok and afterwards in Timor Leste, where she focused her work on the promotion of gender equality in the labour market and on women's economic empowerment, with particular attention to victims of trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation, child labourers, migrants and rural women.
She holds a master degree from La Sapienza University of Rome in International Protection of Human Rights with a specialisation in Women, Conflicts and Peace Processes. She has been working for over ten years with UN agencies (ILO- FAO), NGOs and international organisations (Red Cross) on issues related to gender, development and human rights, focusing in particular on the empowerment and promotion of the rights of discriminated categories of women such as migrant women, domestic workers, victims of trafficking and forced labour. Silvia is regularly invited to present at conferences and seminars on the topic of gender, modern slavery and labour exploitation.
Dr Polly Russell works as a curator of Contemporary Politics and Public Life at the British Library. Polly’s research interests include women’s history, twentieth century women’s movements and feminism. Polly was the British Library project manager for Sisterhood & After: An Oral History of the Women’s Liberation Movement and for the recently launched digitised Spare Rib magazine resource. In addition to working at the British Library, Polly works as a freelance food historian, consultant and writer. Polly was co-presenter on the BBC2’s 2015 living history series, ‘Back in Time for Dinner’ and has a regular column in the FT Weekend magazine, (‘The History Cook’).
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Rahila Gupta is a freelance journalist, writer and activist. In 1989, she joined the management committee of Southall Black Sisters, an advocacy and campaigning women's group set up in 1979 for women escaping domestic violence and, in 2004, she founded the Nihal Armstrong Trust which funds families of children with cerebral palsy to buy cutting-edge equipment and services.
With Kiranjit Ahluwalia she wrote Provoked, the story of a battered woman who killed her violent husband and co-wrote the screenplay based on the book and released as a film in 2007. Her last book, Enslaved, on immigration controls, published in 2007, was said to be ‘one of the most vital books of the new century’. Her verse play Don't Wake Me: The Ballad of Nihal Armstrong was nominated for three awards and was selected by the British Council as part of their showcase in Edinburgh 2013 and went on tour to USA and India in 2014. Her articles are published in the Guardian, New Humanist, New Internationalist and openDemocracy among other magazines, journals and websites. She and Bea Campbell are collaborating on a book, Why Doesn't Patriarchy Die? which will investigate how patriarchy fits with diverse political systems.
Alice Wroe created and runs Herstory, a project that uses feminist art to engage young people with the women’s history not in the curriculum. Using artworks like Judy Chicago’s ‘Dinner Party’ and Margaret Harrison’s ‘Good Enough to Eat’ students journey through women’s history and in their words ‘do’ feminism rather than talk about it. The project aims to promote a critical way of thinking, develop confidence, and provide young people of all genders with an alternative history and framework through which to negotiate the world. Alice is also part of the collective that runs London’s Feminist Library. To find out more about the project see @herstory_uk
Jennifer Hall Lee is a filmmaker, speaker and writer. Her latest film, “Feminist: Stories from Women's Liberation” is an independent film about the women's liberation movement in the United States.She has worked for many years in Hollywood as a visual effects producer and editor on many films including, FORREST GUMP, GHOST, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 2, BEOWULF and more.
Jennifer was invited to screen “Feminist: Stories from Women's Liberation” at the International Islamic University in Islamabad, Pakistan. She has since broadened her feminist work internationally.She also speaks about the importance of including the women's liberation movement in school curriculum’s and to honor the women's movement through including it in the cultural memory of the United States; statues, monuments, parks, holidays. Her monthly column in the online magazine The Broad Side includes global feminist cultural issues. She believes that feminism is for all people no matter what political persuasion and loves to strategize with people about how to best pass down the stories of the women's movement.
She was named as one of the Global Ambassadors for the Global Media Monitoring Project. The GMMP is the oldest media monitoring project in the world.Feminist Stories won “Best of the Fest” at the Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival and is distributed by Women Make Movies. Jennifer screens and speaks for universities, organizations, schools, museums and feminist groups.
Jennifer is one of the essayists in the upcoming anthology "Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox."
Emma Rees is Professor of Literature and Gender Studies at the University of Chester. She has written extensively in the field of gender and representation, and her most recent book, The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History (Bloomsbury) came out in paperback earlier this year. Emma considers the often surprising origins of how we talk about vaginas, and why people have such a problem doing so in a candid way; she maps how advertising, film-making and art have profited from the taboo of the vagina, and how they even perpetuate ideas of ‘shame’. If we confront the taboo, she argues, we can also confront the real-world abuses it currently masks.
Jean Norman has been involved in education for many years, as an NCT teacher, primary school teacher, home educator and NQT mentor. She has just retired as a primary school teacher having taught ages from reception to Year 6. She has a particular interest in history which she brings to the children's workshop at FIL2015.
Pragna Patel is a founding member of the Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism. She worked as a co-ordinator and senior case worker for SBS from 1982 to 1993 when she left to train and practice as a solicitor. In 2009 she returned to SBS as its Director. She has been centrally involved in some of SBS’ most important cases and campaigns around domestic violence, immigration and religious fundamentalism. She has also written extensively on race, gender and religion.
Maryam Namazie is a political activist, campaigner and blogger.
She is the Spokesperson for Fitnah - Movement for Women's Liberation, Equal Rights Now, One Law for All Campaign against Sharia Law in Britain and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.
Maryam is an inveterate commentator and broadcaster on rights, cultural relativism, secularism, religion, political Islam and many other related topics.
She is producer and host of Bread and Roses TV broadcast in English and Persian via New Channel TV and deemed ‘immoral’ and ‘corrupt’ by the Islamic regime of Iran.
Gita Sahgal is the executive director of the Centre for Secular Space. She is also a writer and documentary film maker, and the co-editor of Refusing Holy Orders: Women and Fundamentalism in Britain. She has written on gender, fundamentalism, and human rights for the American Society of International Law, Women Living Under Muslim Laws, and openDemocracy, and has made documentary films on forced marriage and human rights violations during the Bangladeshi war of liberation. She was a member of Southall Black Sisters and a founder of Women Against Fundamentalism and Awaaz: South Asia Watch. She was the inaugural Head of the Gender Unit at Amnesty International, leaving after 'irreconcilable differences' over its relationship with a salafi-jihadi defence group in the UK.
Nikki is an independent consultant who works on gender in development, with a particular focus on girls and on men and gender equality. She has recently co-authored the first State of the World’s Fathers http://sowf.men-care.org Her latest book is Feminism and men http://zedbooks.co.uk/paperback/feminism-and-men (Zed Press, 2014). She has also authored The No-Nonsense Guide to Women’s Rights New Internationalist/Verso 2008, and six State of the World’s Girls reports for Plan International, including one on boys and gender equality. She is a member of the International Advisory Board for Young Lives, an Oxford University study on child poverty, Director of Just Change UK, and an advisory trustee of the Great Men Initiative and New Internationalist magazine.