International Women’s Day Lunch
We are delighted to invite you to celebrate with us at our International Women’s Day Lunch for 2023 –what a treat we have in store for you this year!
The IWD 2023 campaign theme is #EmbraceEquity as we strive towards a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive, where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #EmbraceEquity.
This year’s venue is the extraordinary Manchester Hall in the heart of our great city – a fitting venue to welcome a sensational line up of speakers, and when we say sensational - they really are fab-u-lous!
Our event will kick off with a song from special guest Rowetta before moving on to our speaker panels.
From a range of backgrounds and walks of life, each and every one of our speakers has an incredible story to tell - I for one can’t wait to hear their lived experiences, insights and the ways in which they have overcome adversity to achieve such incredible things - Queen’s Honours awards, medical innovation, astounding business success and incredible work to improve local community to name a few - these ladies have each in their own way made a difference. Come along to celebrate and be inspired by these wonderful women.
About the Speakers:
Professor Erinma Bell MBE is a peace activist recognised for her work tackling gun crime in Moss Side and Longsight. Fourteen years ago Erinma and her husband Raymond witnessed a close friend being gunned down in front of them. Shocked by what they saw, they set up CARISMA (Community Alliance for Renewal, Inner South Manchester Area) to give young people positive alternatives to street and gun crime. At its peak in 2007/2008, gun crime in Greater Manchester reached a total of 146 shootings, many of which occurred in the Moss Side and Longsight areas of southern Manchester.
CARISMA has now become part of Chrysalis – a family support centre which helps migrant families. Erinma works as part of an inspirational network of community leaders and volunteers active across south Manchester, working towards a socially inclusive community.
Mum of eight, Erinma, who grew up in Moss Side was honoured in 2017 with a sculpture designed by Manchester-based artist Karen Lyons. The sculpture – a one and a half life-sized bust – is made out of 50 lethal firearms seized by police or surrendered during gun amnesty’s. The weapons, after being made safe, were melted down by Manchester-based artists’ collective ‘Guns to Goods’ and turned into the sculpture. It now takes pride of place inside Manchester town hall’s sculpture hall – the first-ever sculpture of a woman in the building.
Dr Nighat Awan OBE is CEO of restaurant group, Shere Khan, and recently appointed chair of Cheadle-based Symphony Textiles UK.
Her entrepreneurial journey spans five decades having launched and sold a floristry business to Inteflora and later co-founded restaurant chain Shere Khan.
Dr Awan is currently a patron of ‘Levelling Up: Women & Entrepreneurship’ group and has recently been appointed charity ambassador for Radiotherapy UK.
She has previously acted as trustee for Kingfisher in Business and Community, was an ambassador for Cancer Research UK as well as Oxfam and is also Chair of Asia for the Cherie Blair Foundation.
Dr Awan is a lifelong philanthropist who has helped to raise hundreds and thousands of pounds for various charities over the years.
Christy Foster is the MD of Online4baby, a family business she founded with her younger sister Cheryl.
The girls were brought up by a single mother who had three jobs to try to make ends meet.
Christy’s route to entrepreneurial success began at the age of 12, working on a market stall before and after school each day to earn enough money for a decent lunch.
In her teens she embarked on several money-making ventures, including selling jewellery and gift boxes at factories, mills, and hairdressing salons, earning enough in the run-up to one Christmas to buy her mum a car.
Realising her strength was buying and selling, Christy – who is highly dyslexic, slightly autistic and has just three GCSEs to her name – later began buying bric-a-brac, furniture and antiques and selling them on markets around Greater Manchester, working seven days a week for up to 16 hours a day.
Nursery items proved great sellers and Christy decided to concentrate on these as well as maternity wear. As it grew, her husband Darren and Cheryl joined her business and they branched out to markets in Yorkshire and into wholesaling, buying seconds from big brands and catalogue retailers.
Soon afterwards, as eBay took off, Christy switched her focus to this platform and her business became the largest eBay baby store in Europe. She became one of the first eBay millionaires, but realised she could have her own website, and Online4baby was born in 2011.
Under Christy’s leadership, the pure-play ecommerce business has grown exponentially.
Amy is the 36-year old co-founder and CEO of Collctiv, which makes it easy for groups to come together and do the things they love. Since launching in 2019, Collctiv has helped Organisers in
97 countries collect over $22m of group payments in 73 different currencies.
Prior to Collctiv, Amy was COO of an EdTech company, responsible for the digital production, international growth, operational teams and 600 staff. Amy sold her first business at 28, has been a business consultant and worked in the legal profession. Amy also founded a microfinancing charity, which provided small business loans to ex-offenders after providing them with business training.
Most importantly, Amy is mother to the funniest little guy – Alfred – who is eight years old and
keeps her thoroughly entertained and amused. She also plays piano, writes her own music and
spoken word pieces, and plays rugby and basketball regularly.
We are honoured to be joined by Rowetta who will open the our event with a song. Rowetta is the original female singer with recently reformed Madchester band, Happy Mondays, singing on all their hits, and touring the world. She has worked and performed with a plethora of artists including The Black Eyed Peas, New Order, Gorillaz and many more. She played herself in the Michael Winterbottom film 24 Hour Party People and was Simon Cowell’s favourite and the last lady standing in the UK’s very first X Factor in 2004.
Rowetta is involved with and ambassador of many charities and is passionate about Manchester.
She fronted the ‘End The Fear’ campaign with Greater Manchester Police and continues to work with domestic violence support groups. Rowetta has spoken on behalf of campaigns tackling the issue since 2004, when details of her own experiences of domestic abuse were published in a national newspaper.
Despite her achievements Rowetta has a humble approach and tells that she is a mother first and that is her proudest achievement. Then she is a singer/songwriter. Her message is ‘Live in hope. Don’t give up on what makes you happy. Live and love’