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Women’s Empowerment Month

Women’s Empowerment Month 2020

This year we celebrate the sixth year of Women’s Empowerment Month and Women’s Empowerment Month Awards 2020.

Women’s Empowerment Month will see a wide variety of events and activities taking place across the borough by partners, community groups and others.

Women’s Empowerment Month Awards

The Women’s Empowerment Month Awards celebrates and pays tribute to the inspirational women of Barking and Dagenham. Building on the borough’s rich heritage of women who stood for women’s rights and equality the awards mark the diverse achievements across a range of categories. Last year’s ceremony saw 16 women and three community groups nominated, with eight winners in total. The ceremony will take place in April 2020 at the Broadway Theatre.

See further information about the award categories and how to nominate (PDF, 2MB).

Nominate someone for the Women's Empowerment Month Awards 2020

You can also download the Women's Empowerment Month Awards nomination form (PDF, 2MB) and return it to us in the post. 

Gender Equality Charter

Barking and Dagenham became the first council in the country to adopt a Gender Equality Charter in March 2016. It sets out our ongoing commitment to creating a society where a person’s life choices, opportunities and agency are not limited by gender.

We want Barking and Dagenham to be a place where everyone is valued and respected, and has the opportunity to fulfil their potential, however they identify in terms of gender. So far, over 160 organisations and residents have pledged their support to the charter. 

Sign up and support the Gender Equality Charter

Women’s Empowerment Month events

Women’s Empowerment Month 2019 events Toggle accordion

Street Dance Classes

Every Saturday: 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 March. 1.30pm to 2.30pm.

Abbey Leisure Centre, Bobby Moore Way, Barking, IG11 7LX

Studio 2, first floor.

To celebrate Women’s Empowerment Month Barking and Dagenham Youth Dance (BDYD) and Mums Can Dance Too are offering free dance classes for women every Saturday during March. No pre-booking required.

Get Inspired

Thursday 7 March. 11.30am to 3pm. BEC, 50 Cambridge Road, Barking, IG11 8FG

Join the Barking Enterprise Centre (BEC) to celebrate International Women’s Day with speakers, lunch and networking. To register your attendance please email

This event is free to attend.

International Women’s Day Launch and Celebration

Friday 8 March. 12pm to 6pm.

Lunch and networking

12pm to 2pm. Excel Women’s Centre, 13 London Road, Barking, London IG11 8AA

Join the Excel Women’s Centre for inspirational speakers, traditional dances, pampering and food from around the world. To register your attendance please email

This event is free to attend.

The Radium Girls - book talk and signing 

Friday 8 March. 1.30pm to 3.30pm. Dagenham Library.

Author Kate Moore will be talking about and signing copies of her book The Radium Girls at Dagenham Library. The Radium Girls: the American women from the Roaring Twenties who were poisoned by their work and courageously fought for justice, and who inspired the multi-award-winning and New York Times bestselling book The Radium Girls by Kate Moore.

Journal Creation Workshops with Wumi Oyewole 

4 workshops: 

  • Saturday 2 March 
  • Saturday 9 March
  • Saturday 16 March
  • Saturday 23 March

1pm to 3pm. Barking Learning Centre.

These workshops are primarily for young girls of secondary age (13 to 18 yrs old) who have or want to develop an interest in writing or creative writing. Secondarily, it is for adult women who have or want to develop an interest in writing and/or gain a useful creative skill. Each attendee will produce a 50-page journal that will include personal questions and quotes to facilitate thoughtful writing and help them improve the quality of their life especially in the areas of self-esteem, well-being, inner beauty and body image confidence.

J9 Domestic violence training session

11 March. 1.30pm to 4pm.

Barking Learning Centre - Room 116.

A free domestic violence awareness session for the community and voluntary sector. The council is running a J9 domestic violence session specifically for our community and voluntary sector in Barking and Dagenham. We hope that by encouraging local people to start difficult conversations we will also be able to improve the confidence of women to come forwards and seek support, and to feel reconnected with their own sense of personal power.

Spaces are limited.

Book your place online now at Eventbrite 

HerStory exhibition 

On display all month Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm. 

Valence House Museum.

A small display celebrating local women’s contribution to the fight for equal rights: 

  • Mary Wollstonecraft’s fight for equal education
  • Annie Clara Huggett’s fight for an equal vote
  • the Ford sewing machinist’s fight for equal pay

Entry is free. 

Historical urban walk

Sunday 24 March. 10am to 12.30pm.

Meeting point: The Broadway Theatre, Broadway, Barking IG11 7LS

Lunch 12.30 pm at The Boat House cafe.

The Women’s Group, based at The Hedgecock Community Centre, invites women, men and families to join us to explore the borough’s fascinating history. The walk will be led by a historian. Lunch, if required, can be purchased at The Boat House café with a special 10% discount. No pre-booking required.

Mother’s Day afternoon tea

Sunday 31 March. 2pm to 5pm.

Eastbury Manor House, Eastbury Square, Barking IG11 8SN

Celebrate Mother’s Day with a traditional afternoon tea in the stunning surroundings of this Grade I listed house.

The afternoon tea will feature delicate finger sandwiches, delicious cakes and freshly made scones.

Tea is served at 2pm, additional times may be available depending on demand.

Eastbury Manor House is open between 11am and 4pm if you wish to explore the building before your afternoon tea.

£22 to £26.

Book your tickets on Eventbrite

Celebrating Young Women 

Thursday 4 April. 

Broadway Theatre. 

Show time 6pm. Reception follows. 

Tickets £10.

The Mayor in conjunction with Arc theatre and Eastbury Community school presents songs of empowerment. Proceeds will go to the Arc Theatre and the Mayor’s charities.

Working for Equality exhibition - The fight for fair pay and equal rights

Barking Town Hall 4 to 6 March.

Barking Learning Centre 12 to 20 March.

Dagenham library 21 to 28 March.

Focusing on 50 years in the struggle for working women’s rights in Britain, 1918 to 1968, the East End Women's Museum produced an exhibition exploring changing ideas about the ‘proper place’ for a woman in the 20th century. Beginning with suffragette equal pay campaigns during the First World War and ending with the Ford Dagenham sewing machinist’s strike that inspired the Equal Pay Act, women factory workers are at the heart of the story. Developed and delivered in partnership with Eastside Community Heritage, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.

Women into I.T.

Barking Learning Centre

Women into I.T. is a unique two-day free training course, spread over three weeks, delivered exclusively by Digital Skills Solutions for women only. Building knowledge and practical training around core I.T. skills, as well as essential employability skills with a CV masterclass and skills audit.

Week 1 - Tuesday 26 March and Friday 29 March.

Week 2 - Tuesday 2 April and Friday 5 March.

Week 3 - Tuesday 9 April and Friday 12 April.

The sessions will be from 10am to 2pm.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course attendees should be able to:

  • improve keyboarding and touch-typing skills
  • identify personal employability skills and marketing strategies
  • use Microsoft Word/Excel functions: Formatting, Mail Merge, Design, Charts
  • build a strong and personalised CV
  • define Safeguarding, Cyber Security and I.T Infrastructure
  • review interview skills and job search strategies

This course is for Barking and Dagenham residents only.

Please note that spaces are limited. 

Book your free place on Eventbrite

This Girl Can Festival

Thursday 28 March. 3pm to 4.30pm.

Barking and Dagenham College Fitness Centre

Rush Green Campus Dagenham Road, Romford, Essex RM7 0XU

This free event is open to all women.

To book, contact the BDC Fitness Centre Team on 0203 667 0172.

An event to inspire more women to find an activity that’s right for them. Take your first steps to a more active you, This Girl Can and so can you! There will be a variety of exciting activities to try for people of all abilities. 

This Girl Can celebrates active women who are doing their thing no matter how they do it, how they look or even how sweaty they get.

Launched in 2015, we have successfully persuaded nearly three million women to get more active - but our work isn’t done yet.

Women come in all shapes and sizes with all abilities and from all backgrounds. Some of us are expert sportswomen, some of us are a bit rubbish. It doesn’t matter. We’re just happy that you’re getting active. And if you’re still not sure that you can, we’re here to help you to figure out the way of getting active that’s right for you.

Our research shows that many women are put off taking part in physical activity due to a fear of judgement - this might be about the way the look when they exercise, that they’re not good enough to join in or they should be spending more time on their families, studies or other priorities.

This Girl Can seeks to tell the real stories of women who get active or play sport in the way that’s right for them using images that show what activity really looks like in all its sweaty, red-faced, jiggly glory. We never judge and we don’t care what other people think.

This Girl Can video

International Women's Day Employment and Skills Conference

Friday 29 March. 10am to 1.30pm.

Barking Town Hall.

To celebrate International Women's day, All Women's Network have partnered with Women of Substance,  RAAWB & Help Handz to support women into employment and start home-based business. Job Opportunities are also available for men too.

Let us help you to kick start your options if you:

  • are looking for a new job or gain new skills
  • are struggling to find work after having your children
  • are lacking confidence and self esteem
  • want to find out about Universal credit or self employment or managing your finances

Supporting women to return to work

Tuesday 30 April 10am to 1pm

Dagenham Library, 1 Church Elm Lane, Dagenham RM10 9QQ 

Join us at Dagenham Library for a variety of different employers and supportive services that will help you to become ready for the workplace. This event is open to women of all ages. No matter where you are on your own personal journey back into work, we are here to support you:

  • build your confidence in taking steps closer to work
  • talk to different employers who will be understanding of your needs
  • get information and advice from different health and wellbeing services or organisations to support you to become work-ready

Barking and Dagenham council in partnership with Barking Job Centre Plus will be hosting various different employment, skills and wellbeing stalls on the day.

You are welcome to pop in throughout the day and have a friendly chat with our stall holders.

Supporting women to return to work event flyer (PDF, 1.4 MB)

Award results

Award results 2018 Toggle accordion

The fourth annual Women’s Empowerment Awards which celebrates and pays tribute to the inspirational women of Barking and Dagenham took place on Wednesday 7 November 2018 at the Broadway Theatre. 

The ceremony saw 16 women and three community groups nominated, with eight going on to become winners.

2018 winners

Female parent or carer of the year award

Winner - Dorothy Bell

Female volunteer of the year award

Winner - Victoria Berry

Leadership award in arts and culture

Winner - Laura Ana Maria Losifescu

Women’s community group of the year award

Winner - Triangoals

Young woman of the year award

Winner - Amber Hood

Business woman of the year award

Winner - Sarah Landragin

Anne Estlea lifetime achievement award

Winner - Anne Bristow

Overall woman of the year

Winner - Sarah Landragin

Award results 2017 Toggle accordion

Our third annual Women’s Empowerment Month Awards took place on Thursday 30 March, at an impressive ceremony held in The Broadway.

The evening marked the end of another successful Women’s Empowerment Month.

Thanks to everyone who made a nomination for these awards, and thanks also to all our sponsors Bouygues UK and The Broadway for helping make the evening so special.

Congratulations to all those nominated and of course to all the category winners.

Business woman of the year

Winner: Kemi Oloyede

Last year Kemi took a huge leap of faith to part ways with her secondary school teaching job to follow her dream to make and create wearable garments and set up the ‘Sew London Project’ in the heart of East London.

She is passionate about ethical fashion and her label Recyclothes offers courses on recycling items into gifts and objects of use.

Kemi’s designs were featured in the fashion show held at the Barking Learning Centre as part of the council’s Black History Month in October 2016.


Sarah Allman.

Abisola Christos-Wahab.

Kemi Oloyede.

Female parent or carer of the year

Winner: Toni Sheriff–Geary

Toni is a remarkable single parent who cares for her three sons of which two have additional needs.

Despite overcoming her own personal issues Toni continues to give to the community.

She tirelessly gives her time to Five Elms Primary school organising and participating in parent events, fund raising and trips.

Toni also counsels many parents and carers of children with additional needs at the Heathway centre and supports homeless individuals working closely with charitable organisations.

Even doing all this she organises her time well so she can spend quality time with her own family.


Rahat Ismail.

Donna Lumsden.

Toni Sheriff-Geary.

Female volunteer of the year

Winner: Val Shaw

Val is a super volunteer who has been working with the integration and commissioning team, events team, Barking library, neighbourhood watch, resident’s association and Barking hospital.

She is hardworking, caring and a selfless personality.

Val spends almost all her waking time as a volunteer and is not afraid of standing up for what she believes in and through her work is helping to create a better future for Barking and Dagenham.


Violet Charlton.

Val Shaw.

Heni Vyas.

Intergenerational award

Winner: Rosie Ross

Rosie produced the ‘Open Estate’, a Heritage Lottery Funded project that celebrated the domestic and social history of the Gascoigne estate during a time of much change and turbulence for the communities.

She designed and delivered an 18-month programme of intergenerational arts and heritage activities.

Rosie trained local people to become historians, hosted discussions, parties and workshops, bringing older residents in their 80s and 90s to collaborate with children as young as nine or 10 and ages in between.


Samantha Ashton.

Rosie Ross.

Women’s community group of the year

Winner: Treasured Memories (Positive Change)

Treasured Memories held a celebration tea party to unveil a wall hanging they had created from squares of material that families from William Bellamy Children’s Centre had decorated with drawings, and quotes.

Parents, children, staff, and volunteers had a chance to meet the ladies who had spent many hours creating their work into the masterpiece which is on display in the centre.

On the wall hanging the group embroidered the words: ‘When women work together, incredible things happen’.


East London Nepalese Women’s Association.

Treasured Memories (Positive Change).


Young woman of the year

Winner: Kelly-Louise Lamb

After her family were made homeless through no fault of their own Kelly-Louise went on to raise awareness about child poverty.

She appeared in a BBC documentary, and went to parliament as a guest speaker for the ‘Child in Poverty’ event and gave an honest and frank speech which included thought provoking questions, in front of a room full of politicians, business people and members of the public in which she openly challenged government policy.


Kelly-Louise Lamb.

Pelumi Oyewo.

Outstanding woman of the year

Winner: Toni Sheriff-Geary

Toni is an outstanding woman and who encapsulates this award.

Her unconditional work in the community supporting others is selfless, always putting the needs of others above her own.

She has faced challenges and adversity but still remains focused on serving others.

Toni is an advocate for all vulnerable groups and shows the most extraordinary courage and commitment to raising the aspirations of others.

Her voluntary work makes a real difference every day, touching the lives of students at Five Elms Primary school, parents and carers of children at Heathway centre and those who have no home to go to.

Toni offers a lifeline to those she helps, her voluntary work never stops and she always goes above and beyond the call of duty.

She is a shining example of a mother, counsellor, volunteer and a great ambassador of the voluntary sector in Barking and Dagenham.

Lifetime achievement award

Winner: Anne Estlea

Anne Estlea had a great passion for everything she did and never did anything by halves.

Her life was dedicated to her family.

Family for Anne extended to her friends of which she had many, her mothering instincts also saw her take many a volunteer or even a stranger under her caring wing.

She won Volunteer of Year in 2011 and again in 2012 during which time she worked as a Volunteer Coordinator on the Gateway to the Games Volunteer Programme and recruited a 200-strong army of volunteers for the Olympic Torch Relay.

Her volunteering work was impressive and also included the Youth Offending Panel and setting up the Chadwell Heath Community Centre, which would not have happened if it wasn’t for her drive, determination, vision and strong leadership.

Unfortunately, Anne’s lifetime was cut short but her remarkable legacy in Barking and Dagenham lives on.

Award results 2016 Toggle accordion

Our second annual Women’s Empowerment Month Awards took place at a glittering ceremony at Castle Green’s Boothroyd Hall on 30 March.

Building on the borough’s rich heritage of strong and determined women who stood for women’s rights, the awards celebrate the borough’s inspirational women and marks their diverse achievements across nine different categories.

The evening marked the end of another successful Women’s Empowerment Month.

Throughout the month, along with our partners, we helped deliver a packed programme of events across the borough as well as the launch of our pioneering Gender Equality Charter.

Congratulations go to the winners on the evening.

Award winners

Unsung Heroine

Samantha Ashton.

Adult Learner

Reena Brown-Prempeh.

Young Achiever

Kayleigh Summers.

Female Volunteer

Gill Turner.


Donna Pike.

Community Group

Future M.O.L.D.S. Communities.

Woman of Courage

Nusrat Zamir.


Karen Brown.

Young Woman

Abigail Hall.

Overall winner of Woman of the Year

Nusrat Zamir.

Event sponsored by Bouygues UK

Award results 2015 Toggle accordion

These public awards recognised the diverse achievements of Barking and Dagenham’s women across nine different categories, with an overall ‘Woman of the Year’ selected from the category winners.

Well done to all finalists and congratulations to the winners in each category.

Award winners and presenters

Female Volunteer

Meenakshi Krishnaprasad.

Presented by Janet Curtis-Broni from Barking and Dagenham College.

Young Achiever

Vaisaly Gnanapandithan.

Presented by Angelica Olawepo (Young Mayor).

Businesswoman of the Year

Elena Cristina Bumbac.

Presented by Mary Clements from Barking and Dagenham Chamber of Commerce.

Women’s Community Group

Raised Voices singing group.

Presented by Erika Jenkins from Barking and Dagenham BDCVS.

Young Woman of the Year

Chloe Kent.

Presented by Robyn Keeble, MBE.

Adult Learner

Karen Perry.

Presented by Helen Jenner, Director of Children’s Services.

Woman of Courage

Karla Felicianne.

Presented by Cllr Ashraf, Deputy Leader of the council.

Mum of the Year

Marcia Young.

Presented by Cllr Bright.

Unsung Heroine

Audrey Deal.

Presented by Cllr Carpenter.

Woman of the Year

Karla Felicianne.

Presented by Margaret Hodge, MP, accompanied by Barking Rotary Club, sponsor of the crystal award.