Female speakers inspire students to #BreakTheBias on International Women’s Day

Female speakers inspire students to #BreakTheBias on International Women’s Day

Students and staff celebrated International Women’s Day at New City College with a host of influential female speakers, who shared uplifting stories of their lives and the challenges they have faced.

The speakers included two New City College Principals, an aspiring politician, a police officer, health and well-being advocates and a disabled actress.

To recognise this globally important day, there was also a live DJ, t-shirt making, affirmation writing, singers and an enrichment fair across NCC campuses – all with the theme #BreakTheBias

Guest speakers at Havering Sixth Form campus included Sonia Kumar, Labour candidate for Kings Norton South; Timeka B, a DJ and Youth Worker; Natasha Gayle, a Self-Development Blogger; Keisha Osmond-Joseph, a Lead Nurse and member of the Sickle Cell Society; Olivia Cherkas and Alexandra Tran, who are health advocates for young women; and Ellie Mason, an award-winning disabled actress.

They each gave accounts of how they are working to fight inequality and create a world where difference is valued and celebrated.

At Epping Forest campus mental health practitioner Shirina Carstens and a female police officer gave similar messages to encourage students, as did speakers at Redbridge, Hackney and Tower Hamlets campuses.

At the Ardleigh Green campus there was a Q&A session with a panel of three powerful female role models – NCC Principals Janet Smith and Narzny Khan and NCC Group Inclusion and Progression Manager Miranda Gay. The session was hosted by Gracie Edgerton and Sheree Fuller, who are both members of the Student Union.

The panel was asked a range of questions about the barriers they face as women, both in their personal and professional lives.

The three shared stories of how they became who they are today, who inspired them and the challenges they still see present in today’s society. They gave advice and motivational words to the students, who found the session uplifting and engaging.

Narzny Khan, Principal of Epping Forest and Redbridge campuses, said: “I’m lucky that we work in an inclusive environment where we have female members of our leadership team, but we do face assumptions, maybe because we look a certain way or maybe because we are not a man in a suit – I don’t know.  Even now there are still parts of our society that we need to work on.”

Miranda Gay, based at Hackney campus, said: “I don’t take any offence to assumptions, but you do have to challenge it. Be your authentic self at all cost and change people’s perceptions of you as a woman.  I am very grateful for the powerful women around me. I would say to you, try and place yourself around like-minded people. The barriers for women do still exist, but we are beginning to break those down. You are our future and you need to continue to create that change.”

Janet Smith, Principal of Ardleigh Green and Havering Sixth Form campuses, said: “I have had some amazing women that have inspired me, and I’m proud of how far we have come. There are so many strong female role models in the world today. If you are curious and ambitious there isn’t anything you can’t do. My message to you all is that you don’t know what you have inside you until you question it, and you have all got the capacity to be absolutely fantastic. Just believe in yourself – we’re all here to help you believe in yourself and achieve the best you possibly can in your lives.”