Approaches to Inequalities: Whose Business is it? – Speaker Biographies

Keynote Speakers: Ahlam Akdram

Ahlam Akram – Humanitarian and Activist for Implementation of Universal Women Rights

Ahlam Akram is the founder of BASIRA, British Arabs Supporting Universal Women’s Rights, a not-for-profit organization that holds screenings of thought-provoking films dealing with current social issues that stand as an obstacle in social progress and justice for women, which is the essence of democracy, in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

She is a peace and human rights campaigner, writer, and broadcaster. Ahlam is a British citizen of Palestinian origin who has lived in London since 1979. Her highly acclaimed articles have appeared in Arabic newspapers Al-Quds, Al Hayat and Al Sharq al Awsat. Her work has also been published in Elaph, the most popular online Arabic magazine.

Ahlam is a powerful advocate for women’s rights. She is regularly interviewed on Arabic TV channels and supports the role of women in peace building. She has appeared on Sky TV, Channel 5 and the BBC (on both their UK and Arabic channels) – most recently debating with a Sheikh about the French niqab ban and her idea of Muslim women voluntarily opting to stop wearing it. In another interview, she was debating with an Egyptian Salafist on the topic of conjugal rape. Ahlam has spoken widely about underage marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), and honor killings perpetrated against women due to a complex combination of patriarchal religious interpretations, and social and cultural norms.

Her areas of expertise involves the family status law which is widely implemented in the MENA region, and challenging the legislative systems that support the oppression of women.

She is an active member of Women Without Borders and she is on the executive committee of Women Against Fundamentalism. She is a London Member of the UN Women NC UK, where she was invited to give a talk to UNIFM in London on 15 September 2012. She is well known in the Arab intellectual circles as a courageous female voice for women’s rights.


Adrienne Dixson – Associate Professor, Education Policy, Organisation and Leadership at the University of Illinois

Adrienne Dixson Adrienne’s primary research interest focuses on how issues of race, class and gender intersect and impact educational equity in urban schooling contexts. She locates her research within two theoretical frameworks: Critical Race Theory and Black feminist theories. Herself and a colleague, Celia K. Rousseau-Anderson edited CRT in Education: All God’s Children Got a Song (2006, Routledge) one of the first book-length texts on CRT in education. Most recently, Adrienne is interested in how educational equity is mediated by school reform policies in the urban south. Specifically, she is interested  in school reform in post-Katrina New Orleans, how local actors make sense and experience those reform policies and how those policies become or are ‘racialised’.

Panel Chair: Professor Chantal Davies, Visiting Professor in Law, University of Northampton

Chantel DaviesAfter graduating with a Law degree from Oxford University, Chantal qualified as a solicitor with Eversheds in Cardiff specialising in Employment, Human Rights and Discrimination Law. She then moved on to practice as a Senior Solicitor in Davies Wallis Foyster in Manchester before setting up a unit within the Equal Opportunities Commission (now merged into the Equality and Human Rights Commission) focusing on the wider strategic enforcement of the equality legislation. Chantal is the founder and Director of the Forum for Research into Equality and Diversity which is hosted by the Law School at the University of Chester.

Chantal is now a Senior Lecturer in Human Rights Law and Discrimination Law in the School of Law at the University of Chester.  She is also a member of the University of Chester Diversity and Equality Committee, a diversity Advocate and Disability Link Tutor demonstrating her continuing commitment and experience of equality issues in the HE context.

Chantal has recently completed a 12 month funded project considering the experiences of Black, Minority and Ethnic undergraduate students within the University of Chester. Chantal is currently undertaking research following up on some of the key findings of the BME experience project in relation to the perceptions of BME students within Higher Education towards employability as well as looking at the implications of the positive action provisions of the Equality Act 2010.

Panel Members:

Professor Nick Rumens – Professor of Human Resource Management at the University of Portsmouth

Nick Rumens

Professor Nick Rumens joined the University of Portsmouth in 2016. He is currently Visiting Professor at Oxford Brookes University. Previously, he was Professor of Organisation Behaviour/ Head of Department at Middlesex University, London and Reader in Management and Organization/Deputy Head of Department of Management at the University of Bristol. He has also worked at University of Surrey, Keele University and Southampton Solent University. Internationally recognized as a scholar in the area of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) sexualities and genders in the workplace, he has published widely on topics such as gay and bi men’s workplace friendships, sexuality and professionalism, queer theory and organisation studies, the working lives of older LGBT employees and gay men employed in higher education, the police and performing arts. He is an Academic Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Before entering academia, he enjoyed a career as a senior HR practitioner in the public sector.

Razia Aziz – The Equality Academy

Razia AzizIn a life-long pursuit of learning and professional excellence, Razia’s career and qualifications defy the usual boundaries and definitions. Seeking to get to the heart of what really helps people learn and be all they can be, her work and study span the fields of counselling, coaching, voice and bodywork, performing arts and interfaith ministry.

Following five years of higher education, Razia held a range of positions in the academic, voluntary and public sectors, finally establishing her own successful training consultancy business. She formed the Equality Academy with Jonathan Heath fourteen years later. Razia’s style is distinctive, balancing the quest for truth with the power of compassion and a sense of humour.

Sarah Winship – Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Manager – Shoosmiths LLP

Sarah Winship

Sarah Winship is Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Manager at Shoosmiths LLP, where she holds responsibility at a national level for implementing the firm’s diversity, inclusion and wellbeing strategy. She joined Shoosmiths in May 2016 from Durham University where she had been responsible for developing, promoting and implementing the University’s Equality and Diversity Strategy and for developing and embedding the equality and diversity agenda across the institution while also ensuring the university met its statutory commitments. While at Durham she helped the university gain an Athena Swan bronze level award as well as working with a number of departments to obtain bronze and silver Athena Swan awards. Prior to Durham, she had enjoyed a successful career at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, where she ensured the Trust met the requirements of discrimination legislation, and in so doing, raised the profile of, and developed a coordinated approach to equality and diversity across both health service delivery and development and employment issues.

Dr Wanda Wyporska, FRSA – Executive Director at The Equality Trust

Wanda WyporskaDr Wanda Wyporska is responsible to the Board of Trustees for leading the work of the organisation in its mission to improve the quality of life in the UK by reducing social and economic inequality. In her previous post, she established a vibrant equalities function at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, founded the Safer Schools Network and led the union’s work on anti-bullying, child poverty, social mobility and violence against women and girls. Between 2006-2012, she worked with business and trade unions at unionlearn, the TUC’s learning project, funded by governments of all hues.

Wanda was a Starun Senior Scholar at Hertford College, Oxford, where she was awarded a doctorate in European History and subsequently published her first book, Witchcraft in Early Modern Poland 1500-1800 in 2013. It was shortlisted for the Katharine Brigs Folklore Award. She has spoken at various literary events, conferences and seminars and regularly comments in the media, having appeared on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze and on BBC 1’s The Big Questions.


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