International Women Day

Harrow United Deaf Club’s International Women Day 2014: Inspiring Changes

At The Bridge, Christchurch Avenue, Harrow, HA3 5BD

Harrow United Deaf Club was buzzing with visitors who enjoyed the rare treats of being pampered and to meet some of the most inspirational women, in celebration of the International Women Day – Inspiring Changes, which took place on Saturday 1st March 2014 at The Bridge, Harrow.

Each year, International Women’s Day (IWD), is celebrated on March 8, across the world. In different regions, the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political and social achievements. Inspiring  Change is  the  2014  theme  for  the  global  hub  and encourages  advocacy  for  women’s  advancement  everywhere  in  every  way.  It  calls  for challenging the status quo for women’s equality and vigilance inspiring positive change.

The event was hosted by HUDC’s Patron, Margaret Purnell who welcomed everyone, extending the supports from women and their partners/ loved ones who came to support the event. The evening was opened by The Mayor of Harrow, Councillor Nana Asante; she shared her experiences of her positive role models who inspired her in her journey before she became the Mayor of Harrow. She spoke about the changes in tradition and culture which was male-dominated and gave example of the old days where women made a stand and fought to achieve a dream of their people. This inspired her to make a stand as a councillor and led to her current role as a Mayor.

Key note speakers of inspirational women has the audiences in awe and inspired, as the speakers shared their experiences and personal journey of how they achieved their goals including:

  • Mei Sim OBE DL, Deputy Lieutenant (DL) of Brent as the first Chinese woman as DL, she challenged the stereotypes of Chinese women and showed the world that Chinese women can achieve in politics and provided the leadership in community. She shared some insight of the Chinese Education in her days where the focus was very much on boys to achieve more and live in luxury and girls to live in hardship. She was fortunate that her father treated her and her siblings equally and invested in their education. From there, Mei was inspired to do more for her communities whilst focusing on her career as a Chartered Accountant, and as a result of her hard work, she was invited to be a DL and was privileged to meet and represent the Queen.
  • Councillor Susan Hall, Leader of Harrow Council as the first female leader of the Harrow Council. She shared her experience of how she started in her career as mechanic and own her garage in those days where female mechanic were unheard of. She explained of her career and being a mum, she took a career break to focus on bringing up her children before considering a career change to politics. She looked up as Margaret Thatcher as a positive leader who inspired Susan to follow in her footstep. Susan gave some key message to women; “work hard to achieve your dream, keep trying and not to give up!”
  • Sabina Iqbal, Chair/Founder of Deaf Parenting UK, the first charity run by deaf parents for deaf parents in UK and worldwide. Sabina shared her experience as a Deaf Muslim woman, challenging stereotype within Asian Communities to think positively about deafness and disability. With the right support and encouragement, they can achieve. Sabina broke through the glass ceiling in her work, as an author of the book Pregnancy and Birth: A Guide for Deaf Women which follows stories of deaf women who had encountered barriers while giving birth within the hospital/health services (the first book of its kind, in the world) and travelled internationally, gave presentation on Deaf Parenting UK and the voluntary work she does. In parallel, she works as Sensory Services Team Manager for a large local authority, managing 25 staff aswell as a mum of 3 young children (8, 6 and nearly 4yrs old). In recognition of her work, Sabina gave an insights of numerous awards for her pioneering efforts, including ‘Tesco Charitable Mum of the Year’ (February 2010); ‘Most Powerful Muslim Women in Britain; by Equality & Human Right Commission (March 2009); and ‘European Muslim Women of Influence’ (Oct 2010).
  • Emma Richards, Chief Inspector Operations Harrow Borough Police, she shared her inspiration in form of her father who was in the Police force that inspired her at the tender age of 2, that she developed her love for Police force. She also found her mum and her sister as an inspirational and it was for her love in the popular American TV serial Cagney and Lacey that Emma decided on a career in Police. She was trained in fire-arm, rare for women in her. She loves following the footsteps of Cagney and Lacey; she believes in women doing a good job and see herself as a positive role model. Here, she took part of the Police Security for the key events including the Royal wedding of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; manned the security for the Olympic Parade, Diamond Jubilee and even her daughter’s Olympic torch relay. She was honoured with an Police award, presented by her favourite star Cagney – real name is Sharon Gless.
  • Councillor Kareema Marikar, she shared her experience as the first Sri-Lankan Muslim woman as a Councillor and fought for the rights of women. She also believes in supporting communities and challenging stereotypes around mental health well-being. It was unheard for Sri-Lankan to have a female leader and Kareema have overcome so many obstacles to get where she is.

At the event, there were several stalls from Deaf women entrepreneurs, ranging from foods, jewellery, gifts, clothes, special scarf, fairtrade beauty products that many visitors enjoyed buying aswell as getting the treat of beauty treatments including nail painting, hairstyling, massage on offer from students of Harrow College and some handmade jewellery made by Deaf Resources Base, Hatch End High School.

Asif Iqbal MBE, President of HUDC, summed up the success of the event “I’m pleased to see the huge success of our first HUDC’s International Women Day, with fantastic ranges of pampering treatment, which is a boost for many women and girls. They loves the treat and being pampered and for some of them, it was their first time! We couldn’t have done it without the immense support from the student of Harrow College who provided the pampering treatment. Also the speakers were extremely powerful in their speech about their experiences, all of them came from different background and what is common among them is breaking the glass ceiling to get where they are now. They have fought hard to achieve their goals and by sharing their stories, they are positive role models and showed that if they can do it, all other women and girls can do it too. Many of our members came away, inspired with wealth of knowledge and confidences to aim higher.