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Dignitaries from Uganda, Vietnam and the UK join Berkshire students to debate Equality and Women’s Leadership, and to challenge unconscious bias

#EmbraceEquality and #WomensLeadership were the hotly debated topics at Heathfield School’s Leadership and Equality Symposium.

In celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, featuring politicians, diplomats, multi-million pound business leaders and heads of charities from Uganda, Vietnam and the UK.

Commenting on the event, organiser Rushi Millns, Director of Careers and Outreach at Heathfield School, said, “We welcomed students from Garth Hill, Bracknell; Newlands Girls’ School, Maidenhead; Ditton Park Academy, Slough; King’s Academy, Binfield; Windsor Girls’ School, Windsor; Edgbarrow School, Crowthorne and Herschel Grammar School, Slough, alongside our own Heathfield students. They gathered to explore where we are in terms of equality and how much further we have yet to go. They discussed how we measure equality; most modern countries feel pretty equal, yet only 35% of the UK parliament is made up of women MPs, in Uganda and Vietnam it is similar (34% and 30%, respectively). Business fares worse, only 8% of the FTSE100 and 10% of the Fortune500 companies have female CEOs. Students discussed why equity isn't just a nice-to-have, it's a must-have because better representations means more effective policies and practices, which benefit the whole of society and the economy. 

Representing Uganda was Florence Natumanya, Member of Parliament and former businesswoman, Marion Etiang-Busingye, Marion is Founder and CEO of MOHCA Beauty & Skincare and runs the family multimillion dollar land and property company, and Sheba Sogol, Head of the Sheba Sogol Foundation.

Representing the United Kingdom was Fleur Butler, President of the National Conservative Convention business leaders: Khami Alexander, Founder of the Foreign Investment Network, Reena Ranger, Founder of Women Empowered, and Emma Boryer, a Former Major in the British Army and Chief of Staff of Helmand Reconstruction Team (PRT), Afghanistan.

And for Vietnam Dr Thu, Deputy Chief of Mission (Deputy Ambassador) at the Vietnamese Embassy, and Bao Ha Pham, Director, Associate General Counsel, Head of EMEA Legal for Strategic Equity Transaction Group, Deutsche Bank.

“Celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, the event provided students with the opportunity to collaborate, meet a wide range of women leaders and educate themselves about other cultures, races, and religions.  It also provided them with an opportunity to consider women’s equality in three countries across three continents, and challenge unconscious bias”, said Rushi.

“Six students from each school were put into three mixed groups to listen to and engage in conversation with leaders from each country - Uganda, Vietnam and the UK.  The three groups were then split into two smaller groups in order to collaborate on an answer to the overarching question: Women’s Equality, Are We There Yet?  After lunch, each group presented the dignitaries with their thoughts and responses to the question.

“The event was a great success. It highlighted the different views and attitudes and delved into questions surrounding what equality for women really means to our young people, and helped uncover the levels of unconscious bias within today's world. The students collaborated, shared thoughtful ideas, practised public speaking and at the end of the event, were given the opportunity to network with our esteemed panel of speakers.”