Harrow’s Mayor Celebrates International Women’s Day With College Students

The Worshipful The Mayor, Councillor Margaret Davine, was delighted to find herself back at Stanmore College in her capacity as the first citizen of the borough having formerly been a student at the College herself. The Mayor was one of a number of speakers who took time out of their busy schedules to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018 and inspire the next generation. She spoke of her time at Stanmore College saying “Stanmore is important to me”, and then of having progressed to undertake a degree, working life, involvement in Harrow Women’s Centre, becoming a Councillor and now Mayor; an encouraging example to today’s students of what can be achieved. The Mayor made a point of acknowledging that more men were encouraging of women being empowered and that aspirations were for everyone. She added the importance of support and parenting to foster ambition in today’s young people. 

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The Mayoress, Marilyn Devine, delivered inspiring words of encouragement as did Janice Brown, Clinical Scientist at Mount Vernon Hospital, Charlotte Carvalho, Actuarial Associate at Price Waterhouse Cooper, Vasu Krishnaswamy, Head of Technical and Statistical Intelligence at Pearson and Sarbdip Noonan, Principal at Stanmore College.   

Principal, Sarbdip Noonan, spoke about her background as an Asian female being brought up in east London, attending the local State schools, raising her three children and emphasising how her daughter was as equal as her boys. She spoke of famous female role models saying “women should overcome their fears, become emotionally strong, because inclusion, diversity and equality applies to everyone. Life will be hard at times, there will be turmoil and there will be trials, but we need to overcome these barriers and it’s this that makes us stronger, don’t give up, fight for what you believe in and get success. Looking at British politics, it was, as it still is, a very male dominated world, but things are beginning to change. We had a female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and now we have Theresa May – even the most patriarchal of societies, such as India and Pakistan, have had Indira Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto, as their leaders!”

Vasu Krishnaswamy of Pearson told how she had first undertaken a maths degree, subsequently researched engineering at universities; a subject very few women were involved in and noted how the proportion of boys to girls in engineering implied that girls were being held back in a developed country such as the UK, most likely. simply due to labelling and conceptions such as ‘girls don’t do this’. Vasu had been inspired by Kino MacGregor, life coach and Ph.D. holder who founded Miami Life Centre (yoga) and told how Kino MacGregor had inspirationally conveyed how yoga had given her emotional strength. 

Hearing the speakers at the event and celebrating achievements – from the political to the social - conveyed a strong message to students about just how far women have come from the roots of International Women’s day which were in movements campaigning for better pay and voting rights.

The event, organised by STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Maths) student ambassadors, concluded with student, Maria Pope, delivering an impressive rendition of a Romanian song which, translated into English, was called ‘Hats off to Women’.

Refreshments and celebratory balloons adorned the classroom and the speakers were presented with flowers from Stanmore’s students in appreciation for their involvement.

Head of School, Vik Seeborun, adopted the master of ceremonies role introducing the guests, engaging with the audience and expressing thanks to all at the end.

Principal, Sarbdip Noonan, expressed pride in the students for having organised such an uplifting celebration.