Women Leaders South West Advisors
Sabeena Akhtar is a Writer/Editor and an Arts and Culture programmer working across a variety of literary festivals. She is the Festival Coordinator of Bare Lit, the U.K’s principal festival celebrating remarkable writers in the diaspora. A co-founder of the Primadonna Festival which spotlights the work of women writers, the Primadonna Prize for writing and Bare Lit Kids, the UK’s first children’s festival showcasing the work of writers of colour.
She is also Senior Programmer at the WOW Foundation. A keen advocate for Partition commemoration, in 2017 she partook in the BBC’s coverage of the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and alongside her daughter, filmed a programme on the Partition of India for children. She has since been invited to discuss the subject on various media outlets. She has published a wide variety of work including a children’s book on Islamophobia published by Hachette and a forthcoming Anthology by British Muslim women entitled Cut From the Same Cloth? She was a contributor to Saqi Books, Smashing It: Working Class Artists on Life, Art and Making it Happen and is currently working on her debut novel.
Maricka Oglesby is the Director of the Women’s Leadership Institute of Baltimore at Notre Dame of Maryland University, an historic institution educating women and girls for the past 125 years. She also serves as the Producer of the Women of the World Festival – Baltimore USA and since 2015. Maricka curates and executes engaging, and impactful events focused on the advancement of gender equity in collaboration with global and local partners including the WOW Foundation in London. As a convener of women of all ages including 30+ organizations and leaders who are committed to gender equity, Maricka works to expand authentic conversations, actions, and connections.
Maricka is committed to proactive women’s issues, operational excellence, and inspirational leadership. Maricka studied journalism at the University of Maryland at College Park and has held positions at many nonprofit and educational organizations including the National Women’s Law Center, the National Committee on Pay Equity, and the WOW Foundation in addition to other corporate experience in conjunction with her personal mission for gender and racial justice.
Maricka is the single parent of a 10-year-old son who she is proud to be raising as a feminist.
“…An unapologetically Black, African AND Caribbean, British, Disabled, Woman, with a wheelchair-ish case of Multiple Sclerosis…".
Kym, is dedicated to illuminating their ‘lived experience’ with a long-term condition. Examining its psychological, emotional, practical, social, cultural, structural and interpersonal effects, in order to create a blueprint for a more equitable future. She is determined to be the change she wishes to see.
Kym is a Writer (gal-dem, Spotify, AAIHS), Speaker (SOAS, LSE, Omnicom), Expert Lecturer (University of Oxford, Cambridge, KCL), Sex & Dating aficionado (Inner Hoe Uprising, Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy, Decolonising Contraception, SH:24), ‘Peer-reviewed Vegan Food Critic’ (Virgin Media) , Professional Cackler and the 'Official Goddess’ for The Triple Cripples (BBC, Metro, Black Ballad, Vogue, AJ+) - a platform dedicated to highlighting the narratives and increasing the visibility of People of Colour, living with Disability.
A multifaceted creative, deep lover of Anime and UX design student, Kym spends umpteen hours staring at a screen talking to an invisible, future audience. Ironically, she also happens to be a qualified Personal Trainer & Integrative Health Coach, who spends most of their days lying in bed, feeling poorly and promising themselves that “tomorrow” will be the day that they “eat better & go to the gym”…
Shobana Jeyasingh CBE is an internationally recognised artistic director and choreographer who founded Shobana Jeyasingh Dance 30 years ago. It is an organisation that produces both multidisciplinary works and creative learning and participation programmes locally and nationally.
Shobana has created over 60 critically acclaimed works for diverse platforms including stage, screen and public spaces. Her work is noted for both its intellectual rigour and its visceral physicality. Over the course of a distinguished career, she has collaborated with scientists, gallery curators, composers, film makers, digital creatives as well as dancers and designers.
Her experience as a female South Asian artist in Britain has shaped her many contributions as writer, presenter and mentor. The dynamics of the relationship of margin to centre is a key concept in many of her works. "Material Men Redux" (2018) explored the history of indentured labour and the Asian diaspora. "Bayadere The Ninth Life" (2016) interrogated the portrayal of the "orient" in European art through the prism of the ballet La Bayadere. "Contagion" (2019) was a work for public spaces that celebrated the often-unacknowledged role of women as care givers during the Spanish Flu pandemic.
She was named Asian Women of Achievement for her contributions to the arts in Britain. She holds an honorary MA from the University of Surrey and honorary doctorates from the university of De Montford Leicester and the University of Chichester. She was the recipient of a Lifetime award in the Creative Industries awarded by Women Of the World (WOW).