Celebrating local people who are inspirational to women this International Women’s Day

In celebration of International Women's Day on Monday 8 March 2021, an online event hosted by Southampton City Council will give a platform to local guest speakers who have contributed to our city and are inspirational to women.

International Women's Day logoOn Monday 8 March 2021 19:00-20:00 a free virtual event via Microsoft teams’ will see talks from local people who have achieved success and made a real contribution to our city and female community, from industries such as; health, sport, journalism, transgender & non-binary support, community support and the arts.

Guest speakers are listed below:

Dr Nisreen Alwan

Dr Nisreen Alwan

Associate Professor in Public Health, University of Southampton, and Honorary Consultant in Public Health, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
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“It is very important for me to strive towards equality and always highlight any bias in the system as I believe awareness is the first step towards positive change."

Dr Nisreen Alwan qualified in Medicine and obtained the membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP UK). Dr Alwan has been in her current role for almost 6 years and has a particular interest in the area of the health and wellbeing of women and children, focusing on pregnancy. She has a passion for addressing research questions around how to optimise the health and wellbeing of women before and during pregnancy leading to better long-term health for them and their children.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Alwan has contributed to the public health response by coordinating and leading several collective outputs from senior UK public health academics, and more recently by focusing on the recognition and the quantification of morbidity from COVID-19, having initiated the call to Count ‘Long COVID’. She was awarded an MBE for services to Medicine and Public Health during the COVID19 pandemic in the Queen’s New Year Honours 2021. She was also named amongst other inspiring and influential women from around the world in the BBC 100 Women 2020 list.

What do you like most about your role?

Mentoring, research, teaching, public engagement of science.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in your role?

I am very proud to be a woman scientist and public health expert. It is very important for me to strive towards equality and always highlight any bias in the system as I believe awareness is the first step towards positive change.

If you could tell your younger self anything now – what would it be?

You can’t please everyone, just be true to yourself. Be the woman that you would have looked up to as a little girl.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #ChoosetoChallenge – what do you pledge to challenge this year?

All forms of misogyny and bias against women, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Twitter: @unisouthampton @Dr2NisreenAlwan

Maria Zaccaro

Maria Zaccaro

Local Democracy Reporter for Southampton and Hampshire, Daily Echo and BBC
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“I think everyone should pursue their dreams without letting anything discourage them and they should also speak up when they see any injustice. I choose to challenge bias."

Maria Zaccaro has been based at the Southern Daily Echo for almost two years as part of the BBC Local Democracy Reporting Service a network of 150 journalists across the country who are funded by the BBC and placed at local media outlets, as part of its latest Charter commitment to local democracy journalism.

Maria’s main role is to cover council meetings, hold local councils and other public bodies to account and reporting on the decisions made in the public's name.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in your role? 

I have always felt respected and never seen the fact that I am a woman as an issue. I think everyone should pursue their dreams without letting anything discourage them and they should also speak up when they see any injustice.

If you could tell your younger self anything now – what would it be?

Don’t let criticism get you down. Work hard, have faith and keep believing in yourself even when people around you don’t.

Twitter: @MariaG_Zaccaro

Andi Maratos

Andi Maratos

Chief Executive Officer, Chrysalis
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“I am here to speak as a person who supports women and International Women’s Day, a person who knows that we have as a society a long way to go before we reach equality and that is why days like International Women’s Day are important. I am here to speak on behalf of all the transfeminine people Chrysalis supports. Those women and transwomen who are still finding their space in our world, those who are empowered every time another woman makes a space beside her for them to sit down, to join in, to be included.”

With passion, vision and flair is how Andi leads Chrysalis, a local charity which provides counselling and emotional support to the transgender community. Never content with sitting still, Andi is an innovator, blending knowledge of management and the experience of being gender diverse to create an organisation that is flexible, inclusive and ever developing to help deliver high quality support to trans and non-binary people and to questioning people, their families and friends across the South Coast and beyond.

Under Andi’s leadership Chrysalis has grown into a nationally recognised organisation with a mission to create a world where every gender diverse person can be their authentic self and “free to be me!”

Tell me a bit about your role

I lead a team of incredible people delivering a service that is second to none. Working for Chrysalis is much more than a job, it is a passion and a privilege. My role is to provide the focus, drive and clarity for the charity, making sure that we continue to deliver lifesaving support to people in Southampton, across Hampshire and Dorset and now even more widely. Counselling and confidential support are key to the service Chrysalis delivers and part of my role is to lead the team of 19 counsellors, ensuring that every one of them is skilled in providing support to transgender people and their loved ones, providing training and development and increasing understanding of the impacts of gender diversity both within the organisation and more widely.

If you could tell your younger self anything now – what would it be?

The gender binary is not for you, trying to subscribe to it will hold you back. Be your authentic self, don’t try to cover or hide or be ashamed.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #ChoosetoChallenge – what do you pledge to challenge this year?

I choose to continue to challenge inequality, to highlight when women are being discriminated against. To use my voice and my authenticity to respond from a place of knowing, of understanding that inequality hurts us all. I choose to challenge the fear that equality means one group has to step back while another takes priority, I choose to promote the understanding that equality is about bringing people up to stand alongside you, it’s mentoring, it’s looking around and caring for others, for changing the script to think about the whole of society not individual gain.

Website: www.chrysalisgim.org.uk

Twitter: @ChrysalisGIM @AndiMaratos

Shannon Sievwright

Shannon Sievwright

Southampton FC Women’s Captain and Female Inclusion Officer at Saints Foundation
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“I choose to challenge myself to act as a role model, to empower females to believe in themselves and embrace opportunities.”

Shannon has been the Female Inclusion Officer at Saints Foundation for 18 months. Saints Foundation bring Southampton FC to the heart of the local community, using the power of the club and their passionate team to help fulfil individual potential and make Southampton a better place to live for all.

Working in partnership with Southampton FC, Saints Foundation engage fans, participants and the wider community to effectively communicate their work and grow awareness, advocacy and support.

Passionate about engaging with different people she gets tointeract with and the impact the foundation has on people’s lives, Shannon works across all of the foundations projects supporting staff to develop programmes and deliver projects which consider the needs of females. Ultimately, her role seeks to create gender equity within the Foundation, whether this is through assessing barriers and adapting projects to eliminate these barriers or understanding what encourages and discourages females to participate.

Shannon’s work paves the way and will help to create a legacy for the Women’s EURO 2022 tournament that will be played in Southampton next year. Three group stage games will be played in Southampton on 8, 11 and 15 July 2022.

What does it mean to be a female in your chosen role?

I would like to think that I am a positive role model, being female seeking to engage with females, I would hope that this makes me more relatable, seeing another women working for Saints Foundation could inspire others to seek careers within this industry.

If you could tell your younger self anything now – what would it be?

Be proud of yourself, always work hard, embrace opportunities and be the best version of you. Dream big and be enthusiastic with your pursuit of those dreams! You are doing very well, probably better than you thought you might be doing. Enjoy playing football with your mates… and work on your right foot!

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #ChoosetoChallenge – what do you pledge to challenge this year?

I choose to challenge myself to act as a role model, to empower females to believe in themselves and embrace opportunities.

Website: www.southamptonfc.com/saints-foundation

Twitter: @SFC_Foundation @ShanSievwright

Dr Ronda Gowland-Pryde

Dr Ronda Gowland-Pryde

Freelance learning, engagement and research practitioner in arts and culture and Senior Engagement Fellow / Civic University Lead, University of Southampton
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“For me, being a woman in my role further highlights the necessity for culture change, particularly within education and senior leadership.”

With a PhD from the Southampton Education School, Dr Gowland-Pryde has over twenty years of experience working in civic, community and university related engagement in a multidisciplinary context as an engagement, learning and research professional within the arts and cultural sector. Formerly Head of Engagement and Research at John Hansard Gallery (2000-2018), in 2014, Ronda received a MARSH Award from the National Association of Gallery Education (Engage) for excellence and innovation in gallery education.

Passionate about holistic approaches to engaged-research and community-university engagement, Ronda is currently a member of the City of Culture Bid 25 Research Group and Community Sub Group. Commissioned by Arts and Culture at the University of Southampton, the research was recently awarded funding from Arts Council England, Ronda is a lead researcher for the ambitious Connecting Culture research programme, exploring the impact of Southampton’s Culture Quarter on the lives of children and young people.

What do you like most about your role?

I am fortunate that my role/s enable me to work with people, is creative and helps make a contribution in some way to the local area. I am always learning new things too!

What does it mean to you to be a woman in your role?

It is really important. For me, being a woman in my role further highlights the necessity for culture change, particularly within education and senior leadership. Moreover, having come from a working-class background and being the first (and only) family member to go to University and then achieve a Masters, PGCE and PhD, is also and even more hugely meaningful. The representation of women from working class backgrounds within education, research, academia and indeed arts and culture still has a long way to go in ensuring those voices are heard. Likewise, I hope that in my role/s my lived experience continues to be translated through the people that I work with.

If you could tell your younger self anything now – what would it be?

Keep learning and don’t worry! You’ll get there.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #ChoosetoChallenge – what do you pledge to challenge this year?

I pledge to challenge societal expectations of disabled women from disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds. Having been a long-standing ally of disabled people and disability rights and living with long term conditions (more recently, diagnosed with Dystonia).

Twitter: @PrydeRonda

Victoria Ugwoeme

Victoria Ugwoeme

Freelance learning, engagement and research practitioner in arts and culture and Senior Engagement Fellow / Civic University Lead, University of Southampton
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“I love seeing the faces of my daughters when I share my achievements with them. They get to ask me questions like ‘so mum you mean I can pursue any career I want’? My response is always yes definitely. Dream big, don't accept no. If what you are looking for doesn't exist then find a way to create it!”

Feed the Community Project is solely and not limited to supporting the fight against hunger and food waste. They strive to reduce the amount of food that gets dumped in land fill to reduce damage to our environment.

As a resident of Southampton, Victoria took on the Feed the Community initiative in June 2020 to support local people struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic after seeing first-hand the lack or little interaction children had with fruits and vegetables when she worked as a Teaching Assistant at a local primary school.

Her and her team of local supporters were able to provide fruits, vegetables and other food items to compliment a healthy balance diet to people via weekly deliveries from a team of dedicated volunteers.

Feed the Community Project has been able to reach out to a variety of different community groups, as well as families that were isolating, on furlough, on Universal Credit, as well as single parents, single adults on a low income and older persons who struggle with mobility.

Victoria is passionate about reducing inequality, insecurity and isolation as the team expand on how best to support and empower local residents, with the aim to provide accessible support throughout the pandemic and beyond.

Tell me a bit about your role

As a community volunteer, I look for ways to procure, present and provide services that our community needs to thrive.

What do you like most about your role?

It's an opportunity to encourage my fellow women that we have what it takes to contribute positively in our various communities.

Most importantly seeing the faces of my daughters when I share my achievements with them. They get to ask me questions like "so mum you mean I can pursue any career I want"? My response is yes definitely - Dream big, don't accept no. If what you are looking for doesn't exist then find a way to create it! I constantly remind them that anything is possible with consistent determination, diligence and daring to succeed.

If you could tell your younger self anything now – what would it be?

My Dad was right. When he told me, you may not be a boy child, but you are the first fruit of my loins. "Sit down and let me tell you how important you are to me. I will support you as though you were a boy." He made me aware I could do anything and it's not about my gender but about what I want as a person.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #ChoosetoChallenge – what do you pledge to challenge this year?

I choose to challenge the obstacles of inequality and insecurity.

Twitter: @feedsoton @Ugwoeme4Labour

There will be an opportunity to ask the speakers questions via a moderated chat feature at the event.

The International Women's Day theme for 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge. On International Women’s Day (Monday 8 March) Southampton City Council will be sharing the stories of the inspirational guest speakers on its social media pages and website, highlighting what they choose to challenge for women. 

Councillor Satvir Kaur, Cabinet Member for Homes and Culture, said: “This pandemic has shown that the fight for women’s equalities isn’t over, with women being far more disproportionately impacted, both economically and socially. This International Women’s Day we want to celebrate local Southampton people inspirational to women who have made our city the great place it is. This event will be your opportunity to hear the inspiring stories of a few of our incredible Southampton people, who are making a difference in all sectors, from health, sport, media, the arts and our community.” 

The event will take place on Monday 8 March 2021, 19:00-20:00. 

Register to receive a link to the event