Hackney women inspire the next generation

Press for progress, that is what the UN is asking of the next generation of young women, to help turn the tide on gender inequality this International Women’s Day, on Thursday 8 March.

Across the globe women face an uphill struggle for gender equality, whether it’s in regard to pay, education, access to healthcare or safety. In Britain today startling figures show out of all the FTSE 100 companies, only 7 are led by women and at the other end of the scale only 6% of start-ups are women led.

That is why Hackney Council, for the third year running, hosted it’s ‘inspiring young women day’ at the Young Hackney Forest Road Youth Hub in Dalston. Bringing together over 80 schoolgirls from across the borough to meet with 26 inspiring and successful women, who all volunteered their time to support this event, to galvanise, empower and inspire the younger women and show them that they could and should be able make it in a man’s world.

Dr Ronx, Emergency Medicine Doctor at Homerton Hospital encouraged the young audience by giving an inspirational speech on her life and difficulties she had experienced growing up, she said: "There will always be challenges in your life, things that you can't change. If you have a dream, regardless of what it is, you can always find someone to support you on that journey; either your favourite teacher, a mentor, a family member or a youth worker. I am a living example of someone who worked hard and achieved my dream, it was a struggle and I nearly gave up and had many setbacks, but I made it and every failure was fuel to my fire. Regardless of your background, gender, sexuality, wealth, health, with the right attitude, the right people around you and ultimate belief in yourself, whatever you do, you will always be winning.”

Five panellists spoke altogether including Dr Ronx, they were; Deputy Mayor of Hackney Anntionette Bramble; Spurs Ladies Footballer Renee Hector; Firefighter Victoria Archer-Lee; with the panel chaired by Hackney Council Apprentice Akina Okoye. The women got the audience thinking - and laughing - with presentations on their lives and work.

Only 7% of Firefighters in London are women, but that never stopped Victoria and she wanted to encourage more young women to think about the emergency services as a career, she said: “Though I am always in the minority, it never stopped me, at the London Fire Brigade we always work as a team, it doesn’t matter about your gender. As long as you are a good communicator and empathetic, our job is about helping people and we always work together to do that.”

Renee Hector, Footballer for Spurs Ladies talked about the gender pay gap between female footballers and men, she said: "You play because you love it, you love being part of a team, obviously I'm not in it for the money! Women footballers get paid a lot less than men, but you've got to push for your passion and do what you love no matter what."

At the event, held on Tuesday 6 March, students from Our Lady’s, Clapton Girls, Stoke Newington School, New Regents, Skinners Academy, Cardinal Pole and the borough’s pre-employment programme were able to speak to all of the women in small discussion groups. The speakers gave valuable insights into their chosen career paths, talking about their real life experiences, successes and failures, which all helped them grow and achieve.

Lavinia Sacker, Year 10 from Clapton Girls Academy who aims to work in the creative industries one day said: “The whole of the day was very inspirational, I especially liked the advice and tips and I think all of the speakers really motivated us to go for our dreams.”

Hackney Council’s Deputy Mayor, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, said: “It was fantastic to see so many of Hackney’s successful women giving up their time and sharing their expertise to inspire the next generation. The event demonstrated that although traditional paths to success, such as through college and university, can be hugely productive, there are many other ways to reach a dream career.”

Rinesa Neziri, 14 years old and in Year 10 at Stoke Newington School said: “It was really interesting to hear from people with different backgrounds and how they got through their different problems and overcame obstacles in life.”

If you are a school that would like to hold its own inspiring careers event, you can contact Young Hackney for more information on: 020 8356 7404 or via: info@hackney.gov.uk.