President’s Message May 2022

I do hope that you have had a wonderful and enlightening Easter break.

With Ramadan, Passover and Easter all falling during the same month, it has been a
month for deep reflection, devotion, and worship. It is also a time where friends and family gather to eat, pray, and be together in community. This is even more important while the world seems to be in a state of flux, especially with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The FIWAL Executive has been keeping itself busy, planning and organising our own community gathering on 7th June – a Platinum Jubilee High Tea at the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers’ Hall. This will be a very special event to mark the Queen’s Jubilee as well as FIWAL’s 36th AGM. We have lots planned – music, poetry, a delicious English afternoon tea, a special Jubilee raffle. We will also have the privilege of welcoming Alderman Emma Edhem as the Guest of Honour, only the 5th woman to be elected an Alderman in its history reaching back to the 12th century. As an Alderman, she will also have the opportunity to be elected Lord Mayor. What is an Alderman? What is a Worshipful Company? How is the Lord Mayor elected? You will get all these questions answered and more. Emma will speak to us about these ancient traditions of the City of London, also known as “The Square Mile”, the oldest part of London. She will also give us an insight into her role as part of the oldest governing body in the UK (its origin pre-dates Parliament!)

We launched this event on the 19th April with an Early bird offer, so do not delay and booksoon, as the offer ends on 9th May!

Just click here for more details.

Please do encourage your fellow members and guests to attend as it will be our biggest event in over two years so a wonderful opportunity to meet and find out more about all FIWAL’s members associations. It will be a chance to celebrate, dress up in the theme of “red, blue and white” with or without a hat and toast the Queen!

As our activities increase and we leave the pandemic behind, I am looking ahead to 2023 and the return of the FIWAL Biennial conference after 5 years! Our last one was in 2018, Women’s Voices Heard. If you have ideas or are interested in getting involved with FIWAL then please do email me at: president@fiwal.org.uk.

Wishing everyone a very joyful Eid Mubarak!

Zehan Albakri 
President of FIWAL

president@fiwal.org.uk
fiwal.org.uk

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President’s Message April 2022

Dear FIWAL Friends

I hope you have all been enjoying the early warm Spring weather, perfectly timed for all the Spring celebrations of Holi, Nowruz, Passover and of course Easter this month. Over the years, March has developed into a month of events around International Women’s Day (IWD) so I have had a very full and inspiring month! 

FIWAL started off the IWD celebrations with an uplifting concert – “A Celebration of Women in Music” – with wonderful performances by the Barcarolle Choir and Alla Sirenko. FIWAL was delighted to play a role in raising awareness of the situation in Ukraine with coverage of Alla Sirenko, UCA-UK and the concert on Channel 4 news. We raised £2220 on the night including a £522 donation from FIWAL for humanitarian aid in Ukraine. The donations were very well utilised with funds going directly to Lviv for the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate Monastery who hosted refugees from the East of Ukraine. One of the Sisters is a doctor in a local hospital; much needed medicine and medical equipment was sent there. UCA-UK will continue to work with volunteers to send food and medical supplies directly to Ukraine.

On IWD itself, the Australian Women’s Club hosted a most enjoyable and interesting event at Australia House.  We were treated not only to their delicious cakes but also toexcellent talks by the Deputy High Commissioner, Julie Heckscher and business leader, Samantha Barber. Eachgave us insights into their experience in male dominated work environments. That week I was also invited to join two international Zoom events by WOW Founder, Jude Kelly and a book launch hosted by Malala Yousafzai for the book,“Empowered”, by Vee Kativhu. I would highly recommend this book for young women everywhere. With Zoom allowing input from across the world, it was a truly global experience.

The 17th March was a busy day which started with the FIWAL Member reps Zoom where the topic discussed was Events – these sessions have proved to be very valuable as they encourage a useful exchange of ideas and concerns that can be shared and discussed between the Member reps and FIWAL. Looking forward to many more!

This was immediately followed by a most uplifting and inspiring IWD event by ASAHCA on “Breaking the Bias” at the Ghanian High Commission – all three speakers were exceptional women from the fields of medicine, civil service and corporates. We were also treated to a delicious lunch of African delicacies. Congratulations to ASAHCA President, Tina Owusu-Ankomah on organising a very special afternoon. 

Finally, PAWA had their IWD event at The Nehru Centre, on “Fabulous Foodpreneurs” – a discussion by threeenterprising Asian women in the F&B industry. It was enlightening to hear that despite the obstacles they faced and the bias they experienced, they had all achieved success within that industry.

After all these events, I certainly feel that women are “Breaking the Bias” across all fields and I feel very positive about the future for women. Nevertheless, we must not forget the women in conflict zones across the world in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and many more who are struggling to survive each day. Every little bit does help,so as well as fundraising, all our efforts to raise awareness by giving women a voice will make a huge difference to our place in the world as well as future generations of girls.

Looking ahead we have some exciting plans to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee so keep the 7th of June free!

Wishing everyone a very special Easter!

Zehan Albakri 
President of FIWAL

president@fiwal.org.uk
fiwal.org.uk 

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President’s Message March 2022

Dear FIWAL Friends

It is with a heavy heart that I write this message with the news of an on going war in Ukraine. I never thought I would ever have to write about a war in Europe. Like everyone, I have followed the news from Ukraine with shock, incredulity and concern.

FIWAL was founded 36 years ago this month in 1986 from the strong belief that if women of different races, religions and cultures from national associations could meet in a strictly non-political but structured and relaxed manner, they would find common ground through shared interests which would benefit their organisations and individual membership. FIWAL’s members grow in understanding and from that understanding, mutual support and strength flourish.

The Ukrainian community needs our support and friendship more than ever now – especially FIWAL’s own member, the Ukrainian Cultural Association (UCA-UK). The FIWAL concert “A Celebration of Women in Music” this Friday 4th March is to mark International Women’s Day but with the participation of the UCA-UK and its talented President Alla Sirenko, it is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the importance of shared interests such as music and friendship during these worrying and stressful times. There will be a collection that evening in support of humanitarian aid for Ukraine. The concert is open to all, including men, and it includes a drinks reception with international nibbles, some kindly donated by the Indonesian Embassy. If you have not booked your tickets for this concert, than please do support it by going to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-celebration-of-women-in-music-tickets-223023227477

This year the UN theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) is, Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”.  We need to recognise the contribution of women and girls around the world who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response in order to build a more sustainable future for all. #BreakTheBias

Imagine a gender equal world.

A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together we can forge women’s equality.

Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

All our member associations will be marking IWD in their own special ways but I was very interested to see KCWC’s IWD event celebrating Women Textile Designers with a Zoom talk by specialist Ashley Gray of Gray M.C.A.  This is a fascinating look at women’s role in this field. Details have been sent out in our e-newsletter to Member Representatives.

We must not forget the ever popular Australian Women’s Club, IWD event on March 8th which after missing a year is back again at Australia House. With all Covid restrictions lifted in England, I do hope we will all be able to see more of each other in the months ahead.

Wishing all of you a Happy International Women’s Day.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Ukraine.

Warm wishes
Zehan Albakri 
President of FIWAL

president@fiwal.org.uk
fiwal.org.uk

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President’s Message February 2022

Dear FIWAL Friends,

I trust that you have had a good start to 2022. With Covid restrictions lifted, we can now plan, organize and attend events again.  

Hopefully, Dateline will again fill up with exciting events for 2022. Lynn Assadi, who heads the FIWAL Events team, has been hard at work rescheduling FIWAL’s event for this coming year. We have had to adjust some dates to accommodate these changes. The FIWAL concert, “A Celebration of Women in Music”, is now scheduled for 4thMarch 2022 to mark International Women’s Day. This will be such a special occasion and we are thrilled to be working with FIWAL members, the Ukrainian Cultural Association and the Barcarolle Choir.  This event is open to all FIWAL Member associations and their guests so do bring your family and friends as it will be a fun evening with plenty to celebrate.

We have also decided to combine the FIWAL Spring Lunch with our AGM which is on 7thJune 2022.  This will allow us, finally, to have a ‘face to face’ AGM after two years and give us the chance to socialize as well.  As usual, the AGM will be for invited FIWAL Member reps but the lunch will be open to all FIWAL Member associations.  We are anticipating a good turnout, so do Save the Date!

It was wonderful to see so many at our last Member rep Zoom get together.  Thanks to our Membership officer, Mary Jane Eckert, these sessions have been a great success and it is very useful to have your feedback and input.  We are learning so much more about each other’s associations and how we can support and help each other. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to seeing you again at the FIWAL Board meeting on 8thFebruary.

The good news is that travel is slowly getting easier which hopefully will mean that more of us can make long awaited journeys across the world to see loved ones.  I was delighted to read about the achievement of nineteen year old Zara Rutherford who became the youngest woman to fly solo around the world.  One of her main aims was to ensure greater visibility for women in aviation as only 5.1% of airline pilots are women.  She was also raising funds for ‘Girls who Code’ and ‘Dreams Soar’ – two charities that help girls enter computer and STEM fields. What a wonderful role model for young girls everywhere!

Gong XI Fa Cai to everyone that celebrates the Lunar New Year – wishing you and your family good fortune and health in the Year of the Tiger!

Warm wishes,
Zehan Albakri
President of FIWAL

president@fiwal.org.uk
fiwal.org.uk

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President’s Message January 2022

Dear FIWAL Friends

As another historic year ends, I hope that you have had some quality time with your family this Festive season as well as a restful and relaxing break. Hopefully you have managed to dodge the Omicron variant but if not and your symptoms are mild than the old remedies for colds seem to work well – lots of lemon and honey drinks, rest, fresh air and stay warm. Of course, if you have any serious concerns then do seek medical advice.

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for your support of FIWAL these past twelve months. It has been another tough year and I realise how challenging it has been for all our Member Associations and their communities. However, do take a moment to reflect on everything that you have achieved this last year; in these difficult circumstances, it is easy to dwell on the negatives so do think about all the positives and how you have made a real difference in 2021. 

This last month, I had the honour of attending the Royal Thai Embassy’s National Day celebrations on the 9th December with FIWAL Honorary Secretary, Ameeta. It was such a treat to spend time with the Thai Ambassador and his charming wife, Mrs Thipayasuda Suvanajata who has always been a big supporter of FIWAL. She organised the wonderful Thai Suanplu Choir concert at St Luke’s Chelsea in 2019 and raised funds for FIWAL, PAWA and the Women’s Council. It was lovely to see Rajni Rijal and Lady Butterworth from The Women’s Council there, too.

Looking forward to 2022, we need to stay optimistic that the pandemic is just making us stronger and more resilient, and helping us focus on what really matters like the importance of friendship and support networks. This was so clearly demonstrated at FIWAL’s Festive Tea where women from most of FIWAL’s member associations were represented. We were from all across the world yet we were united by an amazing spirit of understanding, compassion and celebration. I, personally thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you “face to face” and I look forward to more of these special occasions. A big thank you to our gracious and generous host, Mina Alhaidary who organised an excellent afternoon of festivities and raised £1925 for FIWAL and PAWA (Pan Asian Women’s Association) whose main aim is to support teenage girls education in Asia. The funds raised were in honour of Mina’s mother, Nabila Ahmad who passed away last month. Education is a cause close to Mina’s heart as her mother started the Alreshad School in Baghdad that educated children from all levels of society regardless of religion.

Unfortunately our next event, a FIWAL concert, jointly organised with the Barcarolle Choir and the Ukrainian Cultural Association, planned for the 28th January, will now be postponed due to the increase in Covid cases. Such a pity but do look out for the new date which we will announce soon. In the meantime, please join us on Zoom for the Member reps meeting and our next Board meeting on 8th February 2022.

Wishing you and your loved ones peace and joy and a wonderful start to 2022!

Warm wishes,
Zehan Albakri 
President of FIWAL

president@fiwal.org.uk
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President’s Message November 2021

Dear FIWAL Friends,

It has been a busy active month for FIWAL as more activities are starting up again, meanwhile, I’m hoping I do hope that this recent rise in cases will not stop this progress. I feel we all have to do our bit to be that little bit more vigilant about wearing masks and taking lateral flow tests when needed. We really do not want to have to face another lockdown this winter!

With travel restrictions easing, quite a few members of FIWAL’s Executive are taking this opportunity to travel but fortunately with Zoom we are able to continue to our work despite being in several continents!  It was good to see some of you on our Zoom FIWAL Board Meeting on 5th October – hopefully our next Board meeting in February might be a (real) live one or at least a hybrid one. I had the good fortune of meeting up with some FIWAL Member associations in October. 

I attended a KCWC “Foodies” evening on 5th October hosted by Maria Puleio – a lovely Champagne evening with food supplied from Green Caviar and Brik Chocolate, plus guest speakers Queena Wong and Simon Stockton. I thoroughly enjoyed all the treats but most of all getting to know more members of KCWC.

The Chair of Barcarolle Choir, Antonella Harrison, invited me to their weekly session at St Cuthbert’s and I met their members plus their Musical director, Samuel Evans. I enjoyed hearing them sing in such an inspiring venue. I would highly recommend joining them for some excellent musical music therapy! It was also good to see that the Embassy Induction Seminar, organised by Elizabeth Stewart from Embassy Magazine, was able to hold their annual event to bring together members of the diplomatic community in London on 15th October. Unfortunately, I was away but Immediate Past President, Siobhan was able to do the powerpoint presentation that had been prepared by Jennie Parish. FIWAL Diplomatic Liaison Officer, Hulya Kolcu and Susan Jahanshahi representing KCWC were also able to attend. This was a great opportunity for FIWAL to highlight our role at connecting women and women’s groups and helping to build friendship and understanding amongst the International community.

I am looking forward to all the wonderful festive events organised by our member associations in the next few months. Diwali, the festival of lights, is just around the corner so special wishes to all who that celebrate this. The name is derived from the Sanskrit term ‘dipavali’, meaning ‘row of lights’. The festival generally symbolizes the spiritual ‘victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance’ and is widely associated with Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity. 

To avoid a clash of events in December, FIWAL has decided to hold our festive event in late January to welcome in 2022 – do look out for full details. Until then, do keep well and enjoy this special time,


Warm wishes 
Zehan Albakri
President of FIWAL

president@fiwal.org.uk
fiwal.org.uk

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President’s Message August 2021


Dear FIWAL Friends,

With the high success rate of the vaccination programme in the UK and as restrictions lift, it is good to hear that Member Clubs are starting to plan some live physical events. One of the first, live events was held on the 2nd July by the Ukrainian Cultural Association UK. It was a concert at St.John’s Notting Hill Church in London. UCA-UK President, Alla Sirenko performed with the Ukrainian vocal ensemble Vivo and violinist, Orpheus Leander (see photo below) All in aid of Ukrainian orphans. It was a great success and memorable evening for both the performers and audience to finally perform live! You can find out more from their website : www.ucauk.com

Lovely to also hear from FIWAL Past President, Caroline Muir, of the success of The Women’s Council online events. On 14th July, they held another of their regular Zoom drop-in coffee and quiz events. Jenny Habib produced yet another masterpiece of a Fine Arts Quiz, aided by the wonderful photographs show-cased by Rajni Rijal’s tech expertise. A very successful morning, where attendees enjoyed testing their knowledge and adding to it.

The pandemic has highlighted to us the pros and cons of online virtual events and meetings. Most of FIWAL’s MemberClubs have embraced online technology and have been very successful at engaging their membership during this difficult time. Although it has meant that meetings are easier to organise and it has allowed more involvement from all over UK and the world, we have missed meeting ‘face to face” and the advantages of personal connections. Do you plan to continue to do online events?  Looking to the future, the FIWAL executive will be considering how we can combine both online and real events into our schedule. If you do have any thoughts on this, please do email me at : president@fiwal.org.uk.

We are very excited to be organising FIWAL’s first live physical event in nearly 18 months, the Autumn Lunch on 21st September 2021 hosted kindly by Mrs Maha Ben Khedher spouse of the Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia and President of the Association of the Spouses of African High Commissioners and Ambassadors in UK (ASAHCA-UK). It will be an afternoon of Tunisian delights – food, music and crafts. Full booking details will be sent out soon so do book early as places are limited.

Until we can meet again in September, I am sure you will be enjoying the rest of the summer with your family and friends, lots of travel and visits to museums, galleries and theatres !

Warm wishes from all of us at FIWAL,

Zehan Albakri
President 

president@fiwal.org.uk
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President’s Message July 2021

Dear FIWAL Friends,

It was particularly lovely to see so many of you at the FIWAL AGM followed by the 35thAnniversary celebration on the 8th June. The highlight of the celebration was the inspirational film that Laura Schapira had put together featuring FIWAL’s Past Presidents.  The whole event came to life with the wonderful musical contributions by two of our member clubs. The Ukrainian Cultural Association in London and our newest member, the Barcarolle Choir. I hope to continue our Past President Siobhan’s focus and interest in music as a way to connect cultures.

I greatly look forward to my two years as President of FIWAL and hope that I can continue the outstanding effort and commitment of Siobhan and the other Past Presidents. I have already met with the Executive committee and am pleased that we are moving forward with our first physically attended event in September. Do look out for full details in the near future either in The Dateline or on our website. We also agreed to hold the FIWAL Spring lunch in March 2022 in celebration of International Women’s Day.

We are looking to create a Communications team working with Susan (Dateline editor) and Barbara (Webmaster) to help develop our online activities so do get in touch if you have any technical experience of social media, websites, Zoom or Mailchimp and would like to join the team. Just email me at president@fiwal.org.uk.

Our member clubs are starting to hold their own physically attended events so I do hope that I might meet you at one of them in the near future. In the meantime, you can read my incoming speech as President below.

Best wishes from all of us at FIWAL.


Zehan Albakri

President 

president@fiwal.org.uk
fiwal.org.uk

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Zehan’s Incoming President’s Speech :

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Siobhan on her time as President during such a difficult period in history.  She did an amazing job at keeping FIWAL relevant during this time and even increased our membership.  I hope I can keep up the pace.

It is a real honour to be appointed to the role of President of FIWAL.  For those of you who do not know me, I am a Founding charter member of PAWA, the Pan Asian Women’s Association which has been a FIWAL member since 2014 when we were proposed by Fatimah Gammage, a fellow Malaysian.  As a Malaysian in London, I was delighted to find an organization such as FIWAL which gave me the opportunity to meet with so many women from all over the world.

Looking to the future during my presidency, it seems strange to try to plan or formulate any ideas when there is still a level of uncertainty but I will be working closely with our amazingly dedicated Executive committee to keep focused on what really matters at FIWAL.

FIWAL’s mission is clearly stated as providing a forum for the exchange of information, ideas and expertise amongst member clubs.  With the belief that, when women of different races, religions and cultures meet up and find common ground through shared interests, this will lead to a better understanding, mutual support and friendship.  We will hear more about this from our Past Presidents.

With the world becoming increasingly polarized, I think it is this aspect of FIWAL’s founding principles that we will highlight – our cross-cultural exchange as well as being a safe and neutral place to meet, share and discuss without prejudice.  We will look at global topical issues which affect all women – health, technology, education, families and gender equality.

I will continue with Mary Jane on the work that we started this year on FIWAL’s branding and Identity to better reflect this.  I would love to have more interaction with our member clubs and work on joint shared initiatives.  So, if you have ideas, do get in touch.  I would love to hear from you.

I feel confident with the support of a great Executive committee, an experienced Advisory council and our diverse Member clubs, we will adapt and continue to build on FIWAL’s excellent reputation.

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President’s Message June 2021

Dear Ladies,

May started with a Bank Holiday which was hardly noticed as it seemed there was very little difference to lockdown with a strict, and necessary curb on our social gatherings. We are now just past the second May Bank Holiday and the weather is wonderful. It is so lovely having later sunsets bringing us nearer to brighter days and hopefully brighter times.

The number of online events available is staggering and our member clubs have made sterling efforts to provide us will a wide range of advice and entertainment. I expect that all of us watch a high number of Zooms according to our preferences. Naturally, for me FIWAL events and our member clubs events take priority. This month’s events have been very rewarding.

May 4th Women’s Clubs International (WCI) celebrated their 35th Anniversary. A splendid occasion which marked their impressive successful history. I greatly enjoyed their celebratory Zoom showing highlights of special events and occasions from all over the world. 

May12th Caroline Muir of The Women’s Council (TWC) presented an “Architectural” Quiz to test our knowledge of famous buildings and geography. This was both a very clever and fun event and stretched our knowledge to give us the ‘feel good’ factor when we knew or correctly guessed the answer.

TWC also held their AGM May 19th This was followed by a video on the wonderful woman’s Training and Scholarship Programme organised in Mumbai by ADAPT.  These courses have far reaching effects in the benefits to individuals, their children and the wider communities and the countries they come from. Unfortunately the pandemic is having heartbreakingly negative impact on the attendance of women internationally. You can read more on this and the Pan Arabic course organised by SETI on www.womenscouncil.org.uk

The CCL on May 19th held a Commonwealth Quiz designed and compiled by Elizabeth Mullings. This was a great success and for amusement I will share three questions with you: 

1. In what year was Marmite invented? a) 1902  b)1929  c)1899
2. What country has had the greatest number of volcanoes? 
3. ‘Nollywood’ Nigeria’s movie industry is ranked in what position globally (from 1-10)?

On May 23rd Alla Sirenko, President of The Ukrainian Cultural Association in the UK  (UCA UK)  presented a very enjoyable and rare harp concert given by established professionals and students from the Guildhall School of Music. The music chosen was very interesting and involved a variety of harps played.  UCA UK are well established for the quality of their concerts on Zoom, I look forward to their live events, already at the planning stage, where the enjoyment will once again include a mingling of guests over delicious food and an opportunity to meet the talented musicians who perform to raise money for charity. Alla will be playing her own piano composition at our 35th anniversary celebration.

Please mark the date 8th June 2:00pm for FIWAL AGM and 35th Anniversary Celebration. Have a celebratory glass of your favourite ‘tipple’ on standby.

It has been a great pleasure to have been your President for the last two years and I will have many happy memories of the people I have met who have enriched my life through friendship and sharing common interests and in particular through the pre Covid-19 live events in my first nine months of office. I would like to warmly thank my colleagues for the outstanding support throughout my Presidency and in particular the way in which they have risen to the occasion of maintaining and expanding FIWAL during the extraordinary challenges of the pandemic. 

I look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Warm wishes,

Siobhan

Siobhan Hamilton-Phillips
President 

president@fiwal.org.uk
fiwal.org.uk

Answers to Quiz questions 
1. Marmite invented? 1902  
2. Indonesia   
3. With output of over 1000 movies per year ‘Nollywood’ is 2nd between Bollywood and Hollywood

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President’s Message May 2021

Dear Ladies

The sunshine is streaming through my windows and the pastel coloured beach huts are being lowered onto the beach ready for the Summer. On Monday evening April 26th the super moon turned the sky pink, it’s the most impressive moon of  2021. If you missed it, the second of two super moons this year will appear on May 26th. 

The reason I mention this is to highlight the rapid acceleration of global warming we are witnessing. Just looking up at the sky at night reminds us we are mere guests on this planet. It’s up to each of us to play a part in repairing the damage we have caused. To engage in this in a meaningful way and to feel inspired about what we can achieve, there is helpful advice from Julia Hailes MBE, ‘The Environmental Pioneer’ who was our guest this month at our Zoom event Women for the Environment. Speaking on ‘My Green Life’, and in aid of Operation Future Hope, founded by Lesley Malpas, Julia spoke with wisdom and shared her dedication to finding workable solutions to slow down and eventually reverse our destruction. We were treated to practical, tried and tested ways to contribute to making a difference. This is one of the best programmes I have seen on both the destruction caused and how individually we can help slow the damage and save our environment. To read more about Julia, click here. For more information on Operation Future Hope, click here.  

The Ukrainian Cultural Association-UK presented ‘Spiritual Music in Memory of Chernobyl’s Victims of 26th April 1986’. President Alla Sirenko, FISM presented this very moving concert on Zoom. The programme featured traditional sacred Ukrainian music from the 15th century up to the present day. We heard the Ukrainian male ensemble, Kalophonia, along with the beautiful, harmonic choir and music from Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia. We were reminded of some heart rending facts about the Chernobyl disaster. Money raised went directly to help victims of the Chernobyl disaster with their ongoing medical treatments. Our ticket included an after concert drinks reception to talk and reflect on the performance and stories heard. This was a lovely gathering, full of shared memories and the fostering of friendships. The UCA Easter Celebration presented traditions in dance, and we were treated to song and craft from the Carpathian Mountains. Central to this entertainment was the very elegant traditional painting of Easter eggs, and dancing in the square which was elaborately decorated with giant Easter eggs. 

London Blue Plaques celebrate women (who were until recently vastly out numbered by 14% of the 950+ membership). English Heritage increased the number of Blue Plaques for women in 2020 and announced that in 2021 they are shortlisting more women than men. Here are some of the names from London 2020 and 2021: 

Christine Granville (1908-1952): Born Krystyna Skarbek, Granville was one of the most remarkable secret agents of the Second World War and was the first woman to work as a Special Operations Executive agent – two years before they officially recruited women. Kensington.

Noor Inayat Khan (1914-1944): Renowned for her service in the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, Khan was Britain’s first Muslim war heroine and the first female radio operator sent into Nazi-occupied France. Bloomsbury

Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan (1879-1967) is as much admired for her work during the First World War as one of the leading figures in the first women’s corps in the British military, as she is for her academic work as a botanist. Bloomsbury

Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975): One of the 20th century’s greatest artists, Hepworth was a ground-breaking sculptor. Her works are held in the collections of major institutions worldwide, including Tate and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. North London

National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (formed in 1897): The NUWSS was the largest of any women’s suffrage campaigning organisation. At its peak in 1913, it had nearly 500 affiliates and its total membership reached 50,000. The blue plaque will mark their headquarters in Westminster during the crucial eight years leading up to the Representation of the People Act 1918 – the legislation that gave some women the vote.Westminster.

You may not be surprised to hear that English Heritage’s Curatorial Director is a female, Anna Eavis. 

I wish you a safe and enjoyable Bank Holiday

Warm Regards, 
Siobhan 

Siobhan Hamilton-Phillips
President president@fiwal.org.uk

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