Women in the 21st century British Parliament

p1120207Parliament Week 2016

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Josephine Amankwah reading: Maya Angelou – Still I Rise
Rabindranath Tagore – Where the Mind is Without Fear

This event explores the position of women in Parliament and their responsibilities towards their voting communities. It looks at how women have changed British democracy, increased equality and diversity, and improved community representations to create a fairer and more suitable governing system for the 21st century. The event compares the historical efforts of women and their achievements to the present efforts of modern women in Parliament, from both Houses, to bring timely and satisfactory changes in representation.


Baroness Shreela Flather — Chair
Baroness Flather was educated at University College London (LLB), she went on to the Bench in 1971 and in 1976 was elected the first ethnic minority woman councillor in the UK. Then she became the first Asian woman Mayor in the country of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in 1986. She was elevated to the House of Lords in 1990 being the only Asian in the House. She sat on the Conservative benches until April 2008 but now sits on the cross benches. Immediately prior to her elevation to the House of Lords she was a UK delegate to The Consultative Assembly of the European Community being the only ethnic minority delegate from any member state. Her passion now is for the poor women in Africa and Indian Sub-continent and with that in mind she has written a book in 2010 “Woman – Acceptable Exploitation for Profit” to show how extreme poverty can be changed by bringing these women into paid work.

Dr Mari Takayanagi
Dr Mari Takayanagi is currently Joint Project Manager and Co-Curator for ‘Vote 100’, a project to celebrate 100 years of the vote for some women and all men in Parliament in 2018. www.parliament.uk/vote100. She was previously Senior Archivist at the Parliamentary Archives, where she has worked in various roles including public services, outreach, preservation and access, since 2000. Her doctoral thesis was on ‘Parliament and Women c.1900-1945’, and it examined legislation affecting women’s lives and gender equality after the First World War, the role of women in Parliamentary Select and Standing Committees in the interwar period, and women staff in Parliament in the early 20th century.

Merlene Emerson MBE
Merlene came to London from Singapore as a student. She graduated from King’s College, London and has a Master of Laws degree from Clare Hall, Cambridge University. In 2006, she co-founded the Chinese Liberal Democrats and is also one of the founding Trustees of the Chinese Welfare Trust, set up to assist Chinese elderly living in London with their housing needs. She is currently an elected member of the Liberal Democrat International Relations Committee and an executive member of Liberal International British Group. And she works part time at the House of Lords as a researcher for Baroness Susan Kramer, economic spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats.

Professor Emma Crewe
Professor Emma Crewe is a researcher at SOAS (University of London), a research supervisor at the Business School within University of Hertfordshire and the Chair of Health Poverty Action. An anthropologist by training, she has worked since the late 1980s as a social scientist, policy adviser, CEO and trustee in INGOs and grant-makers working in development.
She has been researching the UK Parliament since 1998 and is currently managing a research coalition studying the links between Parliament, civil society and public engagement in Bangladesh and Ethiopia (with the Hansard Society and funded by the ESRC/DFID). Her research focuses on the themes of culture, gender, politics and management of organisations.

Josephine Amankwah
Josephine is a Mezzo Soprano, and an accomplished professional in the creative arts, acclaimed performer in classical music recitals and musical theatre spheres. She trained at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama and also studied at the London Academy of Radio, Film and Television. In addition to her singing a successful acting career has won her a number of notable roles in television, film and theatre. Josephine’s career continues on a multidisciplinary route where she fuses her experiences both as a performer, a writer and director to challenge audience’s expectations and to enlighten new listeners to contemporary African classical music forms. She is passionate about Environmental issues, activism, social justice, arts, ethical living and women making a difference in the 21st Century.

Francesca Lewis
Francesca is a barrister, and an elected member of the Bar Council. As a tenant at 1 Chancery Lane, she has developed a busy practice with a focus on commercial, personal injury and professional negligence cases. She also has a particular expertise in equality law. Francesca is a specialist trial advocate with wide-ranging experience in representing all parties.
Francesca was a double Major Scholar at the Inner Temple during her legal training years, and won the Ashley Jackson Law Prize. Before coming to the Bar, Francesca read History at Cambridge where she was elected to a Senior Exhibition Scholarship, and also won a Royal Commonwealth Society Scholarship. She also completed an MSc at the London School of Economics.

Organiser: Vesna Petkovic Assistant organiser: Tian Lan