Lectures and debates – raising awareness and finding the answers.
Our alumni of extraordinary women, allows us to bring together not only representative groups of people, but exceptional minds and visionary individuals – this combination is both unique and powerful.
The 2013 lecture was given by influential human rights activist Sister Helen Prejean, a leading advocate for the abolition of the death penalty. Sister Helen was joined in conversation by journalist and ITV broadcaster Julie Etchingham. Sister Helen was introduced by Women of the Year President Baroness Helena Kennedy, who said that “the opportunity of hearing from this incredible woman was too good to miss.” Sister Helen recounted her first experiences of working with prisoners on death row in the United States – and of witnessing an execution – and how this determined her life’s work and helped cement her belief in the dignity of human life.
In April 2012, the human rights campaigner and Women of the Year President Baroness Helena Kennedy QC led a distinguished panel to discuss the problem of human trafficking in our cities. Baroness Kennedy spoke about her experiences of working with trafficked women and called for a disintegration of the taboos of shame and dishonour that blight the investigation of sexual crime, before stressing the need for a public awareness campaign to incite a collective fight against trafficking. She then called on members of the panel, which included Juliet Singer of STOP UK, ITV’s London Tonight correspondent Ronke Phillips and Martin Houghton-Brown of Missing People, to speak about their expertise and provide insights into the issue.
In March 2011, world-class scientist and fertility and women’s reproduction expert Professor Nava Dekel, of the Weizmann Institute in Israel, gave a lecture on her ground-breaking work in IVF treatment. Professor Dekel talked about her recent breakthrough in the laboratory, where she has found a way to improve the success rate of embryo implantation in IVF treatment, as well as discussing how science engages with women’s issues. She also addressed the serendipity of discovery, the ethical issues of scientific research and the social pressures on women, even today, to reproduce. The event succeeded in putting the subject in the wider frame of how fast our world is changing due to scientific and technological advancements.
In April 2010, The Rt Hon Tessa Jowell led a lively debate after addressing the Alumni on ‘What will the Olympics really do for us?’ and the legacy it will leave for future generations March 2011, the world-class scientist Professor Nava Dekel of the Weizmann Institute in Israel, an expert on fertility and women’s reproduction presented her latest research which has led to an amazing breakthrough, improving the success of implantation of embryos in IVF treatment. She also addressed the serendipity of discovery, the ethical issues of scientific research and the social pressures on women, even today, to reproduce. Professor Robert Winston joined her on the panel following the Lecture.
In April 2009, Baroness Susan Greenfield, scientist, debated the question “The Future of the Brain in the 21st Century”, which centred on the quest for identity in the new technological age. She asked the question as to how the new and sophisticated technologies affect us and our families.
In February 2008, our vision to build a programme of annual lectures/debates was fulfilled. Women of the Year held their Inaugural Lecture which was given by Mrs Mary Robinson the first woman President of Ireland, more recently the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and current President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalisation Initiative. In the lecture Mrs Robinson provided her perspective on New Ideas in Women’s Leadership. She highlighted a new method that women are currently developing and embracing called Collective Leadership. Ultimately she hopes to create awareness about this concept among women from all walks of life, to inspire and build confidence to embrace this method in the future.