International Women’s Day was proudly celebrated in the Houses of Parliament last week with a historic debate to commemorate the global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
The unique Parliamentary debate which is now in its third year, is an initiative started by Lord Dolar Popat who came up with the idea to give non-Parliamentarians a platform to speak in the Mother of Parliaments to voice the major issues facing women across the world.
Speaking after the oversubscribed debate Lord Popat said, “the idea of the debate is to empower not just women, but also men, to speak out on issues that negatively impact women. Whether it be domestic abuse, gender inequality in the workplace or climate change, what better platform is there to address these issues, then the home of democracy.”
The debate was co-hosted and organised by Rupa Ganatra Popat and Rupal Sachdev Kantaria and consisted of 20 esteemed and renowned speakers mainly from the BAME community to commemorate International Women’s Day under this year’s theme “Each for Equal”. All the speakers took to the floor to share the biggest challenges they face not just in the UK but globally, and their tangible solutions for change.
Gina Miller, the world-famous activist who took the British Government to court over Brexit was the guest speaker at the afternoon tea reception preceding the debate.
Gina said, “There are dark clouds gathering in society in many way. Mentally, emotionally, mental health, increasing violence in society. I believe everyone has the power to speak up. Without speaking out, in the darkness, poison will grow and infect.”
Speakers included international fashion designer Diipa Khosla who has a social media following of over 1.6 million, ITV Presenter Nina Nanner, and dynamic social changer Sonal Sachdev Patel, CEO of the GMSP Foundation. Other speakers included human trafficking and modern slavery activist Meenal Sachdev and Anila Chowdhry is an Award-winning Presenter & Producer.
The debate also included men such as Shaun Bailey the Conservative Party’s Mayoral Candidate and long-standing inner-city London youth worker and Ishaan Shah, a 16 year old young and upcoming Human Rights activist. Ishaan spoke on the negative impact of gender bias, “In the workplace, if a man is outspoken, aggressive and passionate he is a motivated, go-getter. But when a woman voices her opinion, is outspoken, aggressive or passionate she is labelled as a frustrated, man-hater.”
The speakers tackled a vast range of topics including artificial intelligence, black feminism, mental health, modern slavery, philanthropy, spirituality, food, fashion, transgender rights, innovation, venture capital and entrepreneurship.
The debate was chaired by Baroness Usha Prashar CBE- a great champion of women’s rights. Other speakers included former Lord Speaker of the House of Lords, Baroness D’Souza, who has actively participated in the spheres of human rights and development, House of Lords reform and gender equality also took part in the debate.
Rupal Sachdev Kantaria opened the debate covering major global trends across geopolitics, climate and industry disruption and how they will make gender equality even more challenging. She referenced her work with the Oliver Wyman Forum which is building a community of influencers to collaborate and cocreate tangible solutions to global complex challenges such as gender equality and climate change.
The debate was concluded by Rupa Ganatra Popatwho summed up the two debate, “The power sits with each one of us to make a difference. We ask each of you to make a leap and be a part of this journey towards equality and inclusion. Whether it’s in your home - in your workplace - in your social circle - we urge each one of you to commit to make a pledge and to be the change we all want to see in our future.”
The 150-strong audience of parliamentarians, charities, schools and private sector leaders, were invited to take the conversation forward through sharing their own International Women’s Day pledge for change.