Inspiring young Hackney women to be bold for change


Be bold for change, that’s what the UN is asking, to help turn the tide on gender inequality on International Women’s Day, which took place on Wednesday 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 only 29 per cent of parliamentarians are women, and out of all of the FTSE 100 companies only seven are led by women.

That is why Hackney Council brought together over 65 schoolgirls from across the borough to meet with 27 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.

“You have the potential to be even more than us, so please go there.” That was the message from Luke Lucas, Spacecraft Engineer - and the only woman in her department - at the European Space Agency, who was speaking on a panel at Hackney’s Inspiring Young Women’s event.

Five panellists spoke altogether including Luke, they were; Deputy Mayor of Hackney Anntionette Bramble; A&E doctor Ronke Ikharia (Dr Ronx); DJ Anne Frankenstein; and Entrepreneur Nefateri Asantewa. The women got the audience thinking - and laughing - with presentations on their lives and work.

Nefateri Asantewa, an awarding-winning entrepreneur and mother-of-five, said: “I am here today to hopefully empower and inspire the young ladies of today, especially the young girls growing up in Hackney. International Woman’s Day is a beautiful thing, it is a wonderful opportunity to come together and celebrate our greatness.”

At the event, held at Young Hackney’s Forest Road Youth Hub, students from Petchey Academy, Urswick, Our Lady’s, Clapton Girls, Skinners Academy and Storemont School 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.

Gabriella Gretkowska, Year 10 at Petchey Academy, said: “I think it was very brave for the women to share their stories, and even though some of them have gone through a hard time, they showed resilience and they showed that no matter what you believe you can do it and you can be successful.

“After listening to them it makes me feel like whatever I believe I can do now I can do, no matter how hard things may be or might be in the future, and I can do it and be who I want to be.”

The event, aimed to encourage the borough’s younger women to broaden their horizons and aspirations, smash glass ceilings, and think outside the career box.

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor of Hackney
It was fantastic to see so many young women speaking with the inspirational panel about their own lives and the journeys they want to take to best demonstrate women can be successful in all fields. The event showed 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.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor of Hackney

Kiah Peter, Year 10, from Urswick School said after the event: “They taught us that women can be what they want to be, and it’s not that men have all of the good jobs, and that if you want to be something in life then do what you want to do and don’t let anything stop you.”

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 email.