I was honoured to be invited by the Universal Peace Federation to be on the international speaker panel at the House of Lords this month. Hosted by Rt Hon Baroness Verma and in aid of International Women’s Day, the topic was ‘how can we inspire change’ and tackle the issues that are facing women and young girls around the world.
As I scanned the room, I was struck by the diverse representation of cultures, age, religion – all brought together in one room to share a mutual passion and goal; to achieve gender equality and basic universal human rights. Topics from FGM (female genital mutilation), human trafficking, accessible education for all, rape used as a weapon of war, economic participation and many more; I was both humbled and moved by the power and emotion of the room.
I also noted in a room of 115 people, I could count the number of men on one hand. From my experience of these events, this is also the norm. As many of you who know me, will know that I do not see myself as a fervent feminist. Instead I believe in being a humanist. We know from research that the issues we face in our societies are deeply cultural and deeply rooted in our history, therefore, we need to shift the imbalance.