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International Women's Day 2022 - #BreakTheBias Stories

March 9th, 2022

This month we celebrate and champion women who make an impact in our communities every day. We bring you stories of women who are passionate about exposing racially marginalised women to a variety of leisure and sports activities; empowering and engaging children and young people in STEAM opportunities; celebrating culture and heritage; seeing equity in education. They #BreakTheBias in their communities, workplaces through the commitment to equity, justice and inclusion.  

Meet Ayisatu, Paulette, Tracey and Paulette – four incredible women who became a part of Ubele community and are a true inspiration to us all. 

Meet Ayisatu Emore. 

I’m the founder of Idaraya Life C.I.C, an inclusive health coaching organisation that empowers racially marginalised women to lead active lives. 

I'm a person with many interests. Now, my primary focus is on encouraging women to engage in physical activity through cycling, hiking, and walking. 

Why did you start your project?  

I'm very interested in exposing our racially marginalised women to a variety of leisure and sports activities. We're often told that we can't do these things, that we shouldn't be involved in them, or that they're not relevant for our lifestyle. I think that's absolute nonsense. 

What are you currently working on?   

At Idaraya, we are currently running dance workshops, healthy eating workshops, craft for health sessions, and other opportunities to encourage people to look at their lives holistically and take care of their health in various dimensions. 

As a freelancer, I'm working on a number of projects. One of them is a resource geared toward men called ‘Don't be scary guys’ to eliminate gender-based violence. 

The International Women’s Day 2022 Campaign theme is #BreakTheBias, what bias have you had to overcome?  

When I consider the biases, I've had to overcome, I believe the most significant is that I am statistically overweight, if not obese. 

When you talk about being someone who promotes physical activity, there's an assumption that I must look a certain way in order to speak with authority on the subject, as if I'm not able to support people because I don't look a certain way or have a certain capacity. 

I've overcome that simply by doing what I can do with zeal and showing people that I'm doing something because many people talk but few do in this world. 

What can we all do to create a more diverse leadership? 

I'm fighting that bias every day by ensuring that we keep creating programmes and turning up to support the women in our community do their best. 


Connect with Ayisatu: 

Meet Paulette Watson. 


I’m a global tech disruptor. 

Why did you start your project? 

I got into Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) about 20 years ago. It’s been a journey of me doing Robotics, STEM, computer science. I founded Academy Achievers to empower and engage children and young people nationally using STEAM opportunities. Academy Achievers is a place where young people from diverse backgrounds come to socialize, learn, have fun, and meet new friends.  

What are you currently working on?   

I am currently championing the #BeMe digital inclusion of raising one million females' aspirations in Science Technology engineering math related careers. 


The International Women’s Day 2022 Campaign theme is #BreakTheBias, what bias have you had to overcome?  

To be honest we are still dealing with misogynoir. This term was first coined by Moya Bailey where she defined it as the ways anti- black and misogynistic representation shape broader ideas about black women, particularly in visual culture and digital spaces.   

I am currently writing my book on #BeMe digital inclusion and I touch on briefly on Black women’s digital resistance to anti-Black misogyny on digital platforms and spaces. 

At a time when Black women are depicted as more ugly, deficient, hypersexual, and unhealthy than our non-Black counterparts, I am particularly interested in how we have bravely used social-media platforms to confront misogynoir in several courageous—and, most importantly, effective—ways. 

We are #BreakingTheBias to ensure that our #BeMe females are the ones who create the algorithms so we can rid the unconscious and unrealistic biases that plague our community.   


What can we all do to create a more diverse leadership? 

#BeMe digital inclusion program is working with industries, schools, community leaders, parents, and females to democratise the tech scene and making more girls and women have a voice.  We are creating a pipeline of tech women leaders where they will be role models, and help to empower the next generation of women leaders. 

Connect with Paulette: 
General Inquiries: 

Meet Tracey Sage FRSA.

I work in the Culture, Tourism and Heritage sector as a Cultural Strategist and Creative Producer.   I am passionate about celebrating my culture and heritage and finding ways to encourage people to do the same with theirs. 

Why did you start your project?
I’ve always loved the arts but my career really started over 30 years ago working in banking & finance.  Almost by coincidence I started supporting creatives to manage their finances & I was hooked.  Talking to creatives about their business, passions and projects made me realise that I could do more.  

Working for a local authority, managing a regeneration grant fund made me realise the importance of collaborating with larger organisations  whilst enabling individuals & community groups from all backgrounds to develop their own projects that were meaningful & beneficial for them, but most of all sustainable.  This is at the heart of my practise today. 

What are you currently working on?
I am working with a number of organisations to think about how they involve local people and creatives in their planning processes, in really practical ways.  Writing realistic strategies, but also having conversations and making ‘things happen’.   

I'm passionate about people claiming and owning space & thinking about what that really means for the Sectors that I work in and the people that they serve.  I’m an Advisor for PemPeople who are developing the Livesey Exchange on Old Kent Road; the Museum of Youth Culture who have a pop-up shop on Regents Street and Second Floor Studios an affordable Studio provider for artists and creatives.  All of them are interested in creating accessible, democratic spaces for their communities in different and important ways. 

As a Creative Producer with Emergency Exit Arts I’m working to diversify the Outdoor Arts Sector. I love the freedom & democracy that the public realm provides.  Seeing more people from diverse backgrounds involved in the making and leadership of the work is vital; from theatre in outdoor spaces, public art installations to light festival commissions.  I’m really proud that key players across the sector are offering their support in this.  

The International Women’s Day 2022 Campaign theme is #BreakTheBias, what bias have you had to overcome?
I’ve experienced bias as a black woman in a leadership roles; often as the only woman of colour in the room.  I’m also an introvert, and so in many situations I felt my voice wasn’t heard; or if heard it was mis-interpreted.  

Over the past few years my confidence has grown.  Being compassionate with myself and others means that I am willing to be brave enough to question people’s assumptions and not take anything personally in these environments.  I also choose which environments I go in to and set my boundaries where I can.  Now I’m seeking out and helping to create more conducive environments for other.  

What can we all do to create a more diverse leadership?
The advice I give to people now is: find mentors, find coaches, find people in senior positions that you can talk to and trust and that are happy to share their experience and wisdom with you at each step of your journey. 

I'm doing a lot of work with people at  a Senior Leadership level now, helping them to understand and appreciate the real value different voices can bring; not only to a Board Room, but at all levels within organisations - with real agency.

Organisations need to find ways to create opportunities for people to be truly involved & invested in what they are doing: and as Black people we need to find ways to create and build opportunities for ourselves. 

Connect with Tracey: 

Meet Paulette Williams. 

I work in education. I’m passionate about seeing equity in education - particularly for Black students.  

Why did you start your project? 

I started Leading Routes after seeing the low numbers of Black students at university, particularly at elite institutions and the barriers that students face once they are at university. Leading Routes aims to prepare the next generation of Black academics. We are exploring new ways to strengthen the academic pipeline for black students, from a black-led perspective. 

My motivation is really that students are able to enjoy their time at university and leave with a grade they are deserving of. 


What are you currently working on?   

We are currently delivering a lot of consultancy and training work with universities to enable staff to create more inclusive cultures at their institutions. 


The International Women’s Day 2022 Campaign theme is #BreakTheBias, what bias have you had to overcome?  

Being a Black, working class woman in higher education, I've had to overcome many barriers both during my education and career - particularly working in an elitist environment. I think my ignorance helped me early on in my education and career but now being more aware of the barriers - just persevering, challenging when I feel strong enough and resting and looking after myself as much as possible, have helped me to overcome a lot. 


What can we all do to create a more diverse leadership?  

Active mentoring doesn't always need to take place in a formal programme and can be done in very small ways. Just looking out for others, being willing to work collaboratively and understanding that our work towards inclusion is bigger than any individual is important. 


Connect with Paulette: 

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