International Women’s Day: Celebrating Women of Colour

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Internationals Women’s Day 2023


Why not, “embrace equality”? Surely that phrase itself underpins the entire feminist movement?

In actuality the difference between words ‘equity’ and ‘equality’ leads us to opening an entirely new discussion on the intersectionality of feminism.

Simply put, to achieve equality, all genders and sexes should be given the exact same opportunities, support and resources to achieve their respective goals.

However, the term ‘equality’ doesn’t acknowledge the different needs, access and barriers faced by minority groups. Equality doesn’t do us any favors when we aren’t all starting on equal footing. The truth is, EQUITY is what’s needed to advance society. The principle that due to differences in circumstances, minority groups often need more support to achieve the same goals as others in their peer group. 

Keeping this theme in mind, as a woman of colour myself, I’ve decided to highlight the achievement of our own alumni, women of colour who are systematically dismantling barriers and making strides for the community.

Meera Syal (Image)

Degree: English and Drama

Year of Graduation: 1983

Meera has been making waves as one of the most prominent British South Asian personalities. She’s been vocal and outspoken about how the discrimination and racism she faced growing up  as a young South Asian in a majority white town has inspired and motivated her to continue to push boundaries for representation in the media. 

In fact, during her final year at the University of Manchester, she produced and starred in her own play “One of Us”, which was then awarded the National Student Drama Award and also received a 3 year contract from the Royal Court Theatre! This was also the beginning of a long and illustrious career which has included; starring in Emmy Award winning series “The Kumars at No. 42, writing and performing in Goodness Gracious Me as well as writing 2 novels, Anita and Me and Life isn’t all Ha Ha Hee Hee and also writing as a journalist for the Guardian!

Winifred Byanyima (Image

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering

Winifred is a prominent Ugandan politician, activist, engineer and diplomat. Infact, upon graduation from the University of Manchester, she was the first female Ugandan to graduate as an Aeronautical Engineer. Following the conflict in Uganda during the Ugandan Bush War, Winifred began her own political career, serving 11 years in parliament and led Uganda’s first parliamentary women’s caucus to push for gender equality post conflict.

Following this, Winifred has continued her work in campaigning for gender equality, leading the establishment and directed of the African Union Commission’s Directorate of Gender and Development and was later appointed as director of the United Nations Development Program. She also served as director of Oxfam for 7 years and is currently working as the executive director of UNAIDS. This initiative aims to advocate, support and spread awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic as well as preventing transmission and supporting vulnerable communities. 

Samia Suluhu Hassan (Image)

Degree: Economics

Year of Graduation: 1994

Samia made history in Tanzania by being elected as the first female president of the country and has been serving since 2021.This isn’t her only accolade in politics, Samia has been breaking glass ceilings since 2000, by being the only high ranking female minister in cabinet. Samia went on to be the first female Vice President of the country and was also the first female to be running mate during the elections.

Samia has also been praised for her decisive and proactive actions towards battling COVID 19 in Tanzania. Unlike her predecessors, Samia recognised the threat of the global pandemic and was instrumental in the drive for vaccination, set up an expert committee to tackle the pandemic and resumed communication with global health teams to share data surrounding the virus. Under her leadership, the government has been producing stimulus packages, aimed at lifting girls and women out of poverty.

#EmbraceEquity everyone!

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