“It’s best to aim high as a woman” – Princess Bukky Awofeso is a Virago Woman!

inspirational woman


By Abigail Opiah


“If things aren’t going very well… then we’re not at the end yet”- Waithera Sebatindira is a Virago Woman

Photograph of Waithera Sebatindira the first black woman to ever have held the position of CUSU (Cambridge university students union) women’s Officer. She looks directly and the camera and smiles

Waithera Sebatindira – activist, student, first black woman to become Cambridge Student Union’s women’s officer.

Waithera made history when she became the first woman of colour to have ever held the role of Women’s Officer at Cambridge University’s students’ union in 2016.

10420173_299166523626826_7567189947063491757_nAs Women’s Officer, she campaigned on feminist and anti-racist issues on campus and lobbied for women and non-binary students on university committees.

Nominated by Rose Nugee:
” I nominated Waithera for a Virago blue plaque because I think she embodies what Virago is about. I am constantly inspired by her determination to make the world a better place, and by the passion and sheer competency with which she sets about achieving that goal.”

In the two videos below Waithera talks about the difficulties she’s faced personally and how she overcame them.  She also shares her advice for young women and  what her life motto is.

“The biggest difficulty that I’ve ever faced relates to my mental health. During the year that I was the student unions women’s officer, I was also experiencing some relatively severe anxiety and depression…”

Click the video below to hear how she got through it, and to find out what advice she’d give to young women struggling themselves.

Here is Waithera’s life’s motto:

Waithera is currently enrolled in the MPhil in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies at Cambridge.

Article by Rose Nugee

“Never look back!” – Penny Akinde is a Virago Woman!

Penny Akinde says that her strength comes from within!

“Coming from a broken home, you never really know how much it effects you until you reach a certain stage in your life!”

“You start seeing that you don’t value love the way you should and that’s because my dad broke my heart first before any man got the chance to.”

“It took my husband years to break down the wall I built as a defence mechanism, in order to protect myself.”

“But that wall came down, eventually!”

“Becoming a mother is an indescribable feeling! He is my perfect mini-me!”


Hear her story and the advice she has for us all!

By Abigail Opiah

“Kindness helps the world go round!” – Victoria Neumark Jones is a Virago Woman!

Victoria Neumark Jones is an Associate Professor of Journalism at London Metropolitan University. She writes features, reviews and columns for newspapers, magazines and websites, such as the Guardian, Fostercare Network and Slightly Foxed. She also contributes to and copy-edits academic reviews, PR materials and books; as well as contributing to the Association for Journalism Education journal.

She has three important pieces of advice for us all!

The first piece of advice:

“You must put your family first, but putting your family first means providing for your family, so it’s an endless juggling act.”

The second:

“I’m not any wiser than anybody else, but I would say, be kind to your friends, because you need them to be kind to you.” 

And lastly:

3) “At work, don’t make your condition an excuse. Do everything so that people think you’re as competent as you are; make them believe it! It’s terrible if people give you things because they feel sorry for you, it just makes you feel worst about yourself.”

Hear Professor Victoria Neumark Jones sharing the biggest obstacle she’s had to face and her life philosophy:

By Abigail Opiah

“Be the best you can be at whatever you do!” – a VIRAGO Mother told us.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the strong and beautiful Mothers out there !

One of these Virago Mums, Loxie Francis, gave us some advice on this Special Day. She believes it is fundamental to be the best version of ourselves, whatever we do in life, and to always use our negative experiences as something positive.

Watch her interview to find out more tips from this Virago Mum!

By Justine Chalabi  

“I feel like I’m constantly trying to prove people wrong. It can get a bit exhausting.” – Haleema Akhtar is a Virago Woman

Haleema works as a project coordinator at the Muslim Council for Britain, as a charity worker, and as a vocal supporter of Muslim women’s representation.

My religion is something that really influences me, so my life motto is about always being good to people and not expecting anything in return. I think that’s like a core religious belief.

A Still from the video of inspirational woman Haleema Aktar a Muslim headscarf wearing young woman “We see it in the media, this narrative that Muslim women are victims, and Muslim women are really weak, and I’m the opposite of that.”

The biggest difficulty in my life comes from that, from seeing this representation of myself that’s just not true. It’s really hard because it influences the way other people perceive who I am in my day to day tasks.

“I feel like I’m constantly trying to prove people wrong. It can get a bit exhausting.”

 Hear Haleema’s life motto, and her advice for young women going through difficulties:

By Rose Nugee

“Your tomorrow will always be better than your yesterday” – Pastor Lydia Khalil is a Virago Woman


We nominated Pastor Lydia Khalil for a Virago blue plaque! She is a qualified integrative counsellor with many years of practice and a member of British Association of Counselling & Psychology. She is an ordained minister who is a vocal supporter of equality for women in all aspects of life and believes in the old adage that says “educate a woman you educate a nation”.

A page from the book ‘Unique Insights’ which Pastor Lydia Khalil was a contributor

She is also the Honorary Treasurer and volunteer representative of Brent Bereavement Services, a charity occasion which provides counselling for bereavement adults and children and also provided support and counselling for the victims and families of the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London.

She runs a successful private counselling practice. She has also gained a wide range of experience working in Social Housing for several years across diverse boroughs in London. She started and ran a lone parent group in her local church which opened up opportunities for her to work with other church groups as well as charitable organisations.

Hear the biggest obstacle Pastor Lydia Khalil had to face. Are you a single mum? She has some advice for you…

By Abigail Opiah

“You will have to face people not liking you if you’re a successful woman”- Professor Lis Howell is a Virago Woman


We nominated Professor Lis Howell for a Virago blue plaque. She is the director of broadcasting at City, University of London, she runs the broadcasting and television journalism programmes, and she’s also a Virago woman!

We caught up with Lis Howell to hear her story.

“…they weren’t use to having women in power”

“The biggest obstacle I faced was when I was programme controller of a news station that was starting called GMTV and things did not go well. The advertising revenue was lower than predicted, the ITC authorities allowed Channel 4 to start an entertainment programme in competition with us which we weren’t expecting. It was all very nasty and very difficult and I ended up getting fired.

“Looking back, it’s fair to say that I was the only woman at that level in ITV at that time and I think the men found me to be a frightening element.”

They weren’t use to having women in power so I had been a bit of a risky hire.  It’s women and children overboard when panic arises and it was a really terrible time in my life.

“…it’s women and children overboard when panic arises… it was a really terrible time in my life.”

I then got another job as a programme director of a new channel called UK Living. It is now the Living channel on Sky which is hugely successful, and GMTV is no more.

It’s been an interesting turn of events.

“People use to ask me whether I’ve suffered from any sort of sexism in my career, and I use to say ‘well no I don’t think so’, but I’ve realised that was really stupid.

Sexism is so endemic, it’s there all the time. It was hard for women, and it still is hard for women, and that’s very sad.”

There is hope! I’m 67 next month and I’ve seen incredible changes in my lifetime. My first job was in a school. When I started working, there was no chance of going into journalism or media unless you were from London or of a certain class. I saw all that change which is great.

“…I’ve seen incredible changes in my lifetime…when I first went to work it was very much “your husband is the breadwinner”

When I first went to work, women weren’t allowed to wear trousers and you had to be called Mrs or Miss and it was very much ‘your husband is the breadwinner’ and you were the secondary person in the workplace.”

Are you a young woman? Professor Lis Howell has some advice for you…

By Abigail Opiah