Presenters & Speakers

Presenters & Speakers


Lee ChalmersLee_chalmers.JPG
WE Candidate for the Scottish Parliament in May 2016 and Leadership Consultant

Lee is a leadership consultant, gender researcher and campaigner. She has been involved in gender equality efforts for a decade, started a women's network, made a film about the future for women and spent three years on the board of The Fawcett Society.

Lee has an MSc in Gender from the London School of Economics and is currently researching a PhD on the connection between online trolling and women's participation in public life at the University of Edinburgh.

In 2015 Lee founded The Parliament Project, to train, mentor and inspire women to run for political office. She stood for election to the Scottish Parliament in May 2016 for the Women's Equality Party.

Role at Party Conference
Lee will speak on the Parliament Project in the Topical Discussion Sessions.


Anila Dhami Alina_Dhami.jpg
GLA Candidate May 2016, TV Presenter and Campaigner

Anila stood as a WE candidate for the Greater London Assembly in May 2016.

A presenter and journalist, Anila is passionate about ending violence against women and girls, seeing equal treatment of women in media, and changing the landscape and conversation we have about women in order to see equality worldwide.

Role at Party Conference

Anila will be participating in the session on Being a WE candidate.


Stella DuffyStella_circle.jpg
Writer, actor, Fun Palaces Director and theatremaker

Stella Duffy is a founding member of the Women’s Equality Party. She has published thirteen novels, over fifty short stories, and eleven plays. She has twice won Stonewall Writer of the Year and twice won the CWA Short Story Dagger. She adapted her novel State of Happiness for film with Zentropa/Fiesta, and HBO have optioned both of her Theodora novels for a TV mini-series. Her story collection, Everything is Moving, Everything is Joined, and her Doctor Who novella Anti-Hero were both published in 2014. Her fourteenth novel London Lies Beneath was published in October 2016, her fifteenth The Hidden Room will be published in 2017. She blogs at

Stella is also a theatremaker, workshop facilitator, and an Associate Artist with Improbable. She is the founder and Co-Director of Fun Palaces, the campaign for culture for all, created by and for local communities, with an annual weekend of action every October.

Stella is enormously proud to have been involved with WE since its inception, supporting the first public meetings and the party’s earliest outreach to women across the UK and beyond. From those frenetic and exhausting beginnings it is a privilege to now take part in the first ever WE conference.

She was born in London, grew up in Aotearoa/New Zealand and has lived back in London for thirty years.

Role at Party Conference

Stella will facilitate What are WE Missing?, an Open Space event to discuss whatever YOU think WE need to do and host an Open Space breakout debate.


Jayne-Anne Gadhia BA, FCA, FCIBS, CBE Jayne_circle.jpg
Chief Executive, Virgin Money 

Jayne-Anne has significant finance and banking experience, built up over a period of almost 30 years. Jayne-Anne’s drive and commitment to customers and to building a better bank, along with her proven ability to build businesses and lead strong management teams, brings significant value to all stakeholders of Virgin Money.

Jayne-Anne is a Non-Executive Director of Business in the Community, and has roles on a number of advisory groups including the Financial Services Advisory Board, the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group, and the FCA Practitioner Panel Advisory Group. Jayne-Anne led a review into the representation of women in senior managerial roles in the financial services industry and published her report in March 2016.

Jayne-Anne trained as an accountant with Ernst & Young (formerly Ernst & Whinney) in 1982, before moving to Norwich Union in 1987, where she was marketing director of Norwich Union’s Unit Trust business. In 1995 she became one of the founders of Virgin Direct before launching the market-leading Virgin One account in 1998. That business was acquired by RBS in 2001, after which Jayne-Anne went on to lead a number of RBS business units, ultimately joining the RBS Retail Executive Board where she was responsible for the RBS Group’s mortgage business. Jayne-Anne rejoined Virgin Money in March 2007.

Role at Party Conference

Jayne-Anne will be addressing Party Conference in the Speak Out for Women session.


Fiona Vera Gray Fiona_circle.jpg
Research Fellow and Co-founder of the Centre for Gender Equality

Fiona is a Research Fellow in the School of Law at Durham University, co-founder of the Centre for Gender Equal Media, and convener of the International Network on Public Sexual Harassment.

She is author of the first academic book on street harassment in England, 'Men's Intrusion, Women's Embodiment: A critical analysis of street harassment' (Routledge, 2016), and has extensive front line and research experience in sexual violence prevention.

Role at Party Conference

Fiona will be leading a workshop on Street Harassment with Jashmin Patel and Lia Latchford.


Melanie Howard Melanie_Howard.JPG
GLA Candidate May 2016 and Entrepreneur and Charity Trustee

Melanie stood as a WE candidate for the Greater London Assembly in May 2016.

Following a first career in advertising, and a second as a social trends forecaster and founder of the global trends consultancy the Future Foundation, Melanie is on sabbatical considering her next moves.

She is a Trustee of a number of charities including Women in Sport which works to improve accessibility and participation in sport for women and girls, and is acting Chair of Pause, which works with women who are at risk of having multiple children removed from their care. Melanie is also a member of the Information Rights Tribunal for the Freedom of Information Act and has been advising Timeless - a project looking at the Future of Egg Freezing - as well as participating in workshops with a group called the Age of No Retirement.

Role at Party Conference

Melanie will be leading the session on Being a WE candidate.


Harini Iyengar Harini_Iyngar.JPG
GLA Candidate May 2016 and Barrister

Harini stood as a WE candidate for the Greater London Assembly in May 2016.

She is a British-Indian, a second-generation immigrant, and has been the lone parent of three children for many years.

Harini has practised as a barrister since 1999 and her specialisms include sex discrimination, sexual harassment and equal pay. She frequently appears as a legal expert on Sky, was recently interviewed on the BBC, and gave legal evidence to the House of Commons inquiry into high heels at work. She is on the steering group of the Temple Women’s Forum, a mentor with Cityparents, an external trustee of Oxford University Student Union, and a Governor of London Metropolitan University.

Role at Party Conference

Harini will be participating in the session on Being a WE candidate.


Julia KingJulia_circle.jpg

Julia is a Venezuelan-British architect and an urban researcher at LSE Cities. 

Her work is currently part of a group show in the British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale that proposes new designs for homes in response to contemporary live-work scenarios.

Julia's research is concerned with housing, sanitation infrastructure, urban planning, and participatory design processes. At LSE Cities she has contributed to ‘Super-diverse streets: Economies and spaces of urban migration in UK cities’ and is currently working on initiatives in India.

She has won numerous awards, including a Holcim Award (2011), SEED Award for Excellence in Public Interest Design (2014); Emerging Woman Architect of the Year (2014) and was short-listed for the World Design Impact Prize (2013) and the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award (2014).lanning, and participatory design processes. At LSE Cities she has contributed to ‘Super-diverse streets: Economies and spaces of urban migration in UK cities’ and is currently working on initiatives in India.

Julia has taught at the Bartlett School of Architecture, the Architectural Association and the CASS Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, where she recently completed her PhD-by-practice entitled ‘Incremental Cities: Discovering the sweet spot for making town-within-a-city’ which looked at resettlement colonies in Delhi, India.

Role at Party Conference

Julia will speak at the Festival of Ideas on ‘Future traditions: Women in the built environment’.


Rebecca Manson Jones Rebecca_Manson.JPG
GLA Candidate May 2016, Theatre Maker and Artistic Director

Rebecca stood as a WE candidate for the Greater London Assembly in May 2016, and is standing to become a councilor in the Brockley by-election on 13th October 2016.

Rebecca is founder and artistic director of 'Just Jones &'. In 2012 she was the first UK recipient of the Ibsen Scholarship from the Norwegian Ministry of Arts for her innovative staging and adaptation of An Enemy of the People which toured nationally in 2013 in the UK and involved over 200 participants writing parts for and performing the roles of local residents (which they were). The performance involved a vote involving cast, community performers and audience so that there were two endings each, one for each possible outcome and performed according to the weight of opinion.

In 2014, Rebecca led a residency at Dartington to collaborate with award-winning writer David Lane on The Artist in the Happy City – part theatre, part cabaret, part game inspired by grassroots activism, her involvement with What Next and the rise of new political movements.

In 2015, Just Jones & won the Bentley commission to create new short plays in a former mining community. Bentley Max involved 100 people in fresh stories and images in pop up workshops held in a mobile shed.

Rebecca has been creative director of many productions for the Exeter Northcott, Vibrant Festival at the Finborough; Brockley; the Richmond & Twickenham Festival, and as founder director of Almeida Projects, for the Almeida Theatre. Her work fostering diversity at Exeter Northcott and the Almeida Projects roles has been cited as a model of good practice by ACE.

She has led many new writing programmes for theatres, as well as developing new work as a freelance and participatory projects for many West End theatres and the V&A. She is a trustee of Oily Cart Theatre. From 2014–16, she established the Wells Way Pop Up. She is co-convener of What’s Next Southwark, a regular attender of What Next Young Vic, and has been invited to be an assessor for Total Theatre 2016.

She is a skilled accredited action learning facilitator with ALA, funded by the Cultural Leadership Programme.

Role at Party Conference

Rebecca will be co-hosting the session on Being a WE candidate.


Pragna Patel Pragna_circle.jpg
Director, Southall Black Sisters 

Pragna Patel is a founding member of the Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism. She worked as a co-ordinator and senior case worker for Southall Black Sisters from 1982 to 1993 when she left to train and practice as a solicitor.

In 2009 she returned to Southall Black Sisters as its Director. Pragna has been centrally involved in some of Southall Black Sisters’ most important cases and campaigns around domestic violence, immigration and religious fundamentalism.

Pragna has also written extensively on race, gender and religion.

Role at Party Conference

Pragna will be leading a session in the Festival of Ideas on Immigration: what does it mean for women?


Chris Paouros Chris_Paorous.JPG
GLA Candidate May 2016, General Manager and LGBT rights campaigner

Chris Paouros stood as a WE candidate for the Greater London Assembly in May 2016.

She is a highly strategic General Manager, specialising in the growth of small businesses on a global scale.

Chris is also an ardent feminist and campaigner for women's rights and LGBT rights.

Role at Party Conference

Chris will be participating in the session on Being a WE candidate.


Dawn PurvisDawn_circle.jpg
Northern Ireland Programme Director, Marie Stopes International, former NI Assembly Member

Dawn was a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly from March 2007 – May 

2011, representing the East Belfast constituency, first as a member of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and subsequently as an independent. Born in Belfast, Dawn joined the P

UP in 1994 and first stood for the party in the elections to the Northern Ireland Forum in 1996. Dawn was involved in various rounds of the peace process negotiations before, during and after the Good Friday Agreement.

After the death of PUP Leader David Ervine in January 2007, Dawn was appointed his successor; following this, she was elected Party Leader and Assembly Member in her own right.

Dawn left politics in 2011 and became Northern Ireland Programme Director f

or Marie Stopes International 
(MSI). She opened the first integrated sexual and reproductive healthcare centre in Belfast, the first of its kind on the island of Ireland to offer a range of services which include advice on contraception, STI and HIV screening and early medical abortion within the law. She is currently a self-employed consultant working at home and abroad.

Dawn continues to devote much of her spare time to community and voluntary initiatives aimed at tackling socio-economic disadvantage and exclusion.

Role at Party Conference

Dawn will be speaking at the Festival of Ideas.


Jashmin Patel and Lia LatchfordJashmine_circle.jpgLia_circle.jpg
Purple Drum

Jashmin and Lia work at Purple Drum, the young women's team at Imkaan, a national black feminist organisation dedicated to addressing violence against women and girls.

They deliver a range of projects to challenge misrepresentation, promote equality and amplify the voices of young BME women in policy, research and services.

Role at Party Conference

Jashmin (right) and Lia (left) will be leading a workshop on Combating Street Harassment with Fiona Vera Grey.


Heidy Rehman, BSc (Hons), FCCAHeidy_circle.jpg
Founder and Managing Director, Rose & Willard

Heidy Rehman founded and manages Rose & Willard, a fashion-forward, ethically conscious business making fashion-forward and wearable clothes for women, with the emphasis on body confidence. She launched Rose & Willard in September 2014. It took over a year to get going.

Prior to that Heidy spent almost 14 years in the City as an equity research analyst at Citi (previously known as Citigroup), covering such diverse fields as construction, homebuilding, industrials, materials, consumer, leisure, chemicals and others. She worked for the most part in London but spent the last 4.5 years of her career in Dubai.

For the last years of her career, Heidy was top ranked by Extel and Institutional Investor in two sectors – Chemicals and Construction /Industrials. To her knowledge, she is the only person to have been top-ranked in two surveys in two disparate sectors.

Prior to the City Heidy worked in the Civil Service and for the Medical Defence Union.
She did not go to public school. She grew up in a small town in the North East and went to a Comprehensive – hers was the only non-white family there.

Heidy has honours degrees in Maths and Applied Accounting, and is a fully qualified Chartered and Certified Accountant and is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants.

Role at Party Conference

Heidy will be leading a series of workshops at Party Conference on The Act of Photoshopping session in The Festival of Ideas.


Gudrun SchymanGudrun_circle.jpg
Founder and Co-Leader, Feministiskt Initiativ

Gudrun Schyman is a founder and joint Leader of Feministiskt Initiativ, the ideologically independent, feminist Swedish political party.

Feministiskt Initiativ has a vision of a different society. Its ideological starting point is anti-racist feminism. Its members believe in politics being more than just money, and that the division between left and right is not irrelevant, but that discrimination, racism and sexism is present on both sides and doesn't necessarily disappear with socialism; nor does liberalism, with a focus on individual rights, solve the structural inequality in society. They believe that's why an ideologically independent feminist party is important. Feministiskt Initiativ is that party in Sweden. 

Feministiskt Initiativ was started officially in 2005 and has since then developed into a feminist and antiracist movement that in the last election gained seats in 13 municipalities in Sweden and a seat in the European Parliament. 

Gudrun is an educator and lecturer in the area of gender equality and non-discrimination. Her professional background is as a social-worker, and she has been active in both the anti-nuclear movement and the national and international peace movement.

Gudrun was previously a member of the Left Party in Sweden, representing the party as a member of parliament in the Riksdag, Sweden's national parliament, from 1988-2003. She was Leader of the Left Party from 1993-2003, resigning from the post and the party in 2003.

Since 2010, Gudrun Schyman has been a local politician in Simrishamn (her home town), a member of the national board of Feministiskt Initiativ and one of Feministiskt Initiativ's two party leaders.  

Role at Party Conference

Gudrun will address Party Conference as part of the Speak Out for Women session.


TV personality, singer and actor

Sinitta is best known as a TV personality and for her hit records in the 1980s including “So Macho”, “Toy Boy”, “Cross My Broken Heart” and “Right Back Where WE started From”. Altogether Sinitta has 14 international hit singles and 2 international hit albums. She has filled many stadiums, including Wembley, Tokyo Dome and the O2 Arena. She still performs regularly in music festivals around Europe, including Pride in London in 2016.

Sinitta has also acted in a number of West End shows and has been a mentor on The X Factor, as well as appearing in several reality TV shows. 


Ruth WilliamsRuth_Williams.JPG
WE Welsh Assembly Candidate May 2016 and University Team Leader

Ruth works as a Team Leader at Cardiff University and is Data Manager of the Cardiff & Valleys Branch of the Women's Equality Party.

Before joining WE, Ruth had no interest in politics and found that she had little in common with her MP, her Assembly Members, or her local Councillors. This inspired her to stand as a candidate in the National Assembly for Wales elections in May 2016, particularly to give LGBT+ people a voice. She is hoping to stand as a Councillor in the May 2017 elections in Cardiff.

Ruth is passionate about equality and video games.

Role at Party Conference

Ruth will be participating in the session on Being a WE candidate.