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Trailblazers: Women Leading the Way

The first of a series of events produced in partnership with gal-dem, an award-winning media platform that spotlights the creative work of women of colour and non-binary people of colour.

In partnership with

This event is the first of a series of events produced in partnership with gal-dem, an award-winning media platform that spotlights the creative work of women of colour and non-binary people of colour.

You are young and ambitious. You have a vision. But how do you pursue your dream role when no one at the top of your industry looks like you?

Women of colour have to navigate a world of work where they are often discriminated against because of their race as well as their gender. Prejudice in recruitment, opportunities for promotion, pay gaps, microaggressions – the list goes on. Moments that seemed like major turning points can fizzle out: Diane Abbott made history when she became the first black woman elected to Parliament in 1987 but it wasn’t until 2010 that Britain elected its first female Asian MPs. Halle Berry became the first black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress in 2001 but since then we’ve seen 18 white actresses in a row pick up the award. Gender diversity in FTSE 100 companies is improving but today, out of the six female CEOs, not one is a woman of colour.

Still, it’s not all bad news. Despite the challenges, women of colour are increasingly making their way to the top and carving out a new ‘normal’ for younger generations. To celebrate their success and share how they got there, Intelligence Squared and gal-dem are partnering to bring together pioneers from the worlds of media, politics and culture.

Our panel includes Diane Abbott, Shadow Home Secretary and the UK’s first black female MP; Mishal Husain, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today programme; Corinne Bailey Rae, award-winning singer-songwriter, Yomi Adegoke, co-author of Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, and Bernardine Evaristo, an author shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize with her novel Girl, Woman, Other. The conversation will be chaired by journalist and political activist Ash Sarkar.

Join us for an evening of discussion, inspiration and celebration.



Diane Abbott

Shadow Home Secretary and Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington

Shadow Home Secretary and Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington. She was Britain’s first black female MP and is the longest-serving black politician in the House of Commons. Her political posts have included being on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Treasury Select Committee and National Executive of the Labour Party. She is a prominent figure on the left of the Labour Party.

Yomi Adegoke

Award-winning journalist

Award-winning journalist and co-author of Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, a visionary guide to navigating life as a black woman in Britain today. The book includes interviews with several trailblazing black women including Malorie Blackman, Clara Amfo, Afua Hirsch and Denise Lewis. She has written for The Guardian, The Independent and the Pool.

Corinne Bailey Rae

Award-winning singer-songwriter and musician

Award-winning singer-songwriter and musician who first made her mark on the global music scene in 2006 with her self-titled debut album. She is a double award-winning Grammy artist and Brit and BET nominee, whose most notable hits include Put Your Records On and Like a Star. She has collaborated with the likes of John Legend and Tyler the Creator.

Bernardine Evaristo

Author and Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University

Anglo-Nigerian award-winning author of several books of fiction and verse fiction that explore aspects of the African diaspora: past, present, real, imagined. Her novel Girl, Woman, Other was joint winner of the Booker Prize in 2019. Her writing also spans short fiction, reviews, essays, drama and writing for BBC radio. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University, London, and Vice Chair of the Royal Society of Literature. She was made an MBE in 2009. As a literary activist for inclusion, Bernardine has founded a number of successful initiatives, including Spread the Word writer development agency (1995-ongoing); the Complete Works mentoring scheme for poets of colour (2007-2017) and the Brunel International African Poetry Prize (2012-ongoing).

Mishal Husain

Presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme

Presenter of BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today programme as well as the television news on BBC One. Over twenty years in journalism she has worked on big domestic and international stories. She has reported from numerous regions around the world and has interviewed world leaders and prominent public figures, from Boris Johnson and Aung San Suu Kyi to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Ash Sarkar

Writer, journalist and broadcaster

Writer, journalist and broadcaster. She is Senior Editor at Novara Media, a left-leaning online news outlet, where her work focuses on race, gender, class and power. She lectures in political theory at the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam.


Speakers are subject to change.