UNA-Luton Conference on Commonwealth women celebrating International Women’s Day

On 26th March 2018, I was privileged to be part of an amazing gathering of civil society organisations and social activists in Luton, Bedfordshire. United Nations Association-Luton under the leadership of the very dedicated and inspiring Dr.Nazia Khanum OBE invited the Luton and Bedfordshire community members and social leaders to add their voice to the agenda for women empowerment to be discussed at the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London.

The event was organised in partnership with UNA-Harpenden and University of Bedfordshire. Although a weeknight, the attendance numbers surpassed the expectations with almost ninety participants from all walks of life. The event was well attended by dignitaries including the Lord Mayor Cllr G. Ayub and Cllr Naseem Ayub, representatives from the local authority, grass root community organisations, other professionals and academicians.


Group photo of organisers with dignitaries
From Left to Right: Shaista Khan, Dr. Violet Cuffy , Dr. Nazia Khanum, Prof.Gurch Randhawa, Mayor Luton Cllr G.Ayub, Cllr Naseem Ayub, Mr. Vinod Tailor, Dr.Diana Pritchard

The audience reflected the cultural diversity and dynamic community of Luton. The biggest success was the significant attendance and active involvement of women from ethnically diverse communities. In the words of Dr.Nazia , Chair UNA-Luton

” This was a tremendously exciting and successful conference, where in my experience it is the first time so many women from traditional backgrounds attended an event based at the University and felt part of women-power.”

The conference addressed the challenges faced by women particularly from the Commonwealth countries in dealing with issues related to Climate change and Migration. The presenters gave some food for thought to the audience by highlighting the impact of the above and encouraging participants to think of ways for addressing these in the group sessions. During the group sessions, participants were invited to share their perspectives and add recommendations to be put forward as a Draft resolution at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting next month in London.

Some glimpses of the exciting event can be seen below.

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