Hughes Hall’s fantastic, inspiring and supportive community came together in different ways earlier this month to celebrate International Women’s Day.
First IWD Formal Hall
We held our first ever International Women’s Day (IWD) Formal Hall. Organised by Swati Keshri, MCR Equality and BAME Officer and Georgie Windsor, MCR Female and Non-Binary Officer, the Hughes Dining Hall was transformed; decorated beautifully in purple to signify dignity and justice; two vital components of gender equality. There was a special menu (with purple blueberry cheesecake!) to reflect the theme and it with badged with the IWD logo.
Dr Tori McKee, Senior Tutor, welcomed guests – and welcomed this very important addition to College’s annual calendar of Formal Halls. Swati spoke during the evening of the importance and relevance of this year’s theme, “breaking the bias”, and stressed the wider need for taking responsibility for our thoughts and actions – breaking the bias on IWD and beyond.
The event was predominantly attended by women of our College, many dressed in purple, all of whom enjoyed the food, atmosphere and significance of the event. It was also the first Formal attended by new Bursar, Jonathan Newby, who was inspired and impressed by the effort and gthought that went into the event, as well as the inclusiveness and sense of community if engendered amongst so many different people in and around Hughes: “Thank you to all those present for making me so welcome. What a great first Formal experience!”
Proud to have helped realise such a significant and poignant evening, Swati reflected: “The IWD Formal was my last event as the MCR Equality and BAME Officer, and the response was wonderful. I want to thank, Georgie, for all her help and a special thankyou to the whole conferencing team, catering staff and the porters for making this event such a success. It is very rewarding to see that Hughes Hall has added IWD Formal Hall to their events calendar, and that it will be an annual event.”
“We were especially pleased to welcome Ms Omnia Gadalla, current LLM student, who spoke of the successful initiative she led in her native Egypt where she spearheaded the demand for access to female candidates to serve in office as judge and prosecutor. In a separate event the same day, she discussed female career prospects in law: her speech was awe-inspiring and received a standing ovation from all our attendees at the Formal. The energy in the Hall was breath-taking.”
Academic events address challenges faced by women
Two further events on 8th March underlined key issues for women, as well as focussing on academic strengths at the College. We celebrated Hughes Hall women in STEM, with an online event organised by our Postdoc community, during which a number of college senior members and alumni discussed their careers, research and personal journeys in their chosen field.
This was followed in College, by The Tip of the Iceberg which explored and confronted the challenges facing women in professional environments, particularly the legal field and policy. Such arenas, which are traditionally male-dominated, bring specific challenges; and barriers to women’s progression and fulfilment differ significantly around the world. This was an opportunity for women working and researching in law in many different environments in various jurisdictions, to share experiences, learn from each other and show solidarity. Discussants included:
- J. Jarpa Dawuni: Associate Professor of Political Science at Howard University, Washington D.C and founder of the Institute for African Women in Law.
- Mahnaz Malik: Hughes Hall Senior Member, Barrister and Arbitrator at Twenty Essex Chambers in the UK.
- Omnia Gadalla: Hughes Hall LLM student, Assistant Lecturer at the Faculty of Law and Shari’a- Al-Azhar University and founder of Her Honor Setting The Bar Initiative in Egypt.
- Vinamrata Shrivastava: LLM student and former Principal Associate at a leading law firm of India, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas.Fyon Reilly is a barrister. She is the Assistant Dean (Clinical Legal Education) at City Law School. She is also at the Self Employed Bar and current L.LM student at Cambridge.
- Amita Riksen is a counsel in international investments, portfolio strategy and innovation in the energy and natural resources sector in different jurisdictions.
- Jameson Fisher is an American attorney and LL.M. candidate at the University of Cambridge. She is a student lecturer in corporate law in the US.
- Elizabeth Paradis is a Cambridge LL.M. candidate and a member of the Québec Bar (Canada).
Thank you to all those who took part in such an inspiring range of activities and made the day so inclusive, stimulating, challenging and fun. IWD is here to stay at Hughes!