Business and professional women
Hilarie Tucknott, from Bedlington, National President of BPW UK welcomed delegates to conference at the Station Hotel in Newcastle.
Furthest travelled was International President Jasmin Darwich, from Mexico, followed by Vice President Amany Asfour, from Egypt.
Amany hoped everyone would meet in October at BPW’s international conference in Cairo. For 5,000 years, Egyptian women had traded as successful businesswomen.
Jasmin brought news from the Committee on the Status of Women discussion held at the United Nations in New York, where BPW has consultative status.
Hazel Stephenson, Lord Mayor of Newcastle, welcomed everyone to her city. She spoke of the many women of influence, such as Kathleen Brown, to whom she had dedicated a blue plaque to show where Suffragettes welcomed her on release from prison. Another influential woman was Dame Allen, who gave funds to set up a school.
This linked well to the first speaker Hilary French, Head of Newcastle High School for Girls, who delivered an inspiring talk on her role and the initiatives she had introduced to encourage students to make good choices. Staff and girls had raised funds to support education in less fortunate parts of the world, particularly Uganda.
Young women aged 18 to 24 traditionally don’t vote. Lynne Hobson aims to inspire them to take an interest in Parliament as its outreach officer. The election will take place on the anniversary of the death of Suffragette Emily Davison.
Nikki Gott spoke of the ups and downs of her company before its success delivering conferences and events. Nikki received an OBE for her work inspiring business people.
Sarah Miller, from the Millin Centre, talked of the difficulties faced by women when setting up businesses, particularly when their first language isn’t English, while Jo Curry highlighted the services of Changing Lives.
Emily Cox, from Virgin Money, spoke of research that shows women in business face not only the glass ceiling, but a perma frost level, where many jump off before achieving their full potential.
The founder of BPW in the UK thought women should rise as far as possible up the career ladder so they achieved the best salary and retired on the best pension, thus avoiding poverty in old age.
The highlight of the day was the lecture by Dr Manisha Hadi, from Kabul, who spoke of the challenges facing Afghan women. Given an average family of six and average death at 45, they are often prevented from receiving medical help due to cultural barriers.
Already a qualified doctor, she has received a second degree from Durham University and is continuing research into the health issues of Afghan women.
Sue Ashmore, from Morpeth, Regional President, thanked her for her lecture, given in memory of BPW’s founder Beatrice Gordon Holmes, saying it was the best memorial lecture she had heard.
Marina Leal-Freitas, originally from Brazil, brought greetings from Rome, where Young BPW are meeting.
Members were then entertained by Morpeth member Penni Blythe, who spoke of the women she had met across the world.
To end, the Sea Glass Singers sang traditional tunes.