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International Women's Day 2020

Each year, on 8th March, Milton Keynes Community Foundation, working together with local organisations, hold an event to celebrate International Women’s Day and invite local women to think about and honour the women in their lives who have made a positive impact and inspired them.

This year, the day fell on a Sunday and started at Milton Keynes Rose where the day kicked off with Debbie Brock, Vice President of Milton Keynes Community Foundation and Chair of Cenotaph Trust at the Parks Trust, introduced everyone to the Rose and explained the significance behind the pillars and International Women’s Day.

Debbie took us around a little tour of the Rose, explaining how different inspirational women were involved in the commemorative days that the Rose celebrates amongst its pillars, including local women from Milton Keynes who had been influential in seeing these days come to be celebrated. 

As everyone was invited to tie their pledges to the pillar, that encouraged everyone to think about the International Women’s Day theme this year of #EachForEqual and how they can contribute to an equal and enabled world, Sheniah Asiamah sang some inspirational songs that really drove home the powerful message of the day.

The ceremony finished with everyone being asked to make their way down to The Parks Trust pavilion, where a wonderful selection of delicious cakes from MK Snap were being served with tea and coffee in an array of beautiful mismatched china tea cups and saucers, provided by Annie Allen of MK College. 

On display also were Parks Trust and Fawcett Society Milton Keynes boards telling us about how local women have influenced Milton Keynes and the important role that women have played in the growth of the city.

Our speeches started with an empowered speech from the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, Julia Upton MBE who encouraged everyone to: ‘Look behind to the women who are following and help them up the ladder, instead of blocking them and stopping them from achieving.”

The speeches that followed, facilitated by Kurshida Mirza, Trustee from Milton Keynes Community Foundation, started with two keynote speakers. Former Paralympian, Val Williamson and local business owner, Naseem Khan.

Val told us about some of the struggles and discrimination that she faced growing up with a disability and how that affected her in her sport and Naseem talked about starting her business against hardships that she faced and how her restaurant Namji, in Wolverton, offers the opportunity for a group of women to learn how to cook. Through her restaurant, Naseem also works to help people in need and anyone who is in need of food, are able to go in and have a freshly cooked meal.

The keynote speakers were followed by a panel, facilitated by MK Soroptimists Chair, Amanda Carter-Philpott who spoke to students from MK College, Evie, the first female apprentice at Niftylift and a Syrian refugee woman who told us about the hardships she faced when leaving her country with her family and the opportunities that are now available to her children in this country.

The over-riding message of the day of creating an equal world where everyone is treated with the same respect and everyone has the same opportunities, was something that resonated with everyone who attended.

Milton Keynes Community Foundation would like to thank The Parks Trust, MK College, MK Fawcett Society and MK Soroptimists for working in partnership with us this year to deliver the celebration.

Milton Keynes Community Foundation Women’s Fund supports projects that have a positive impact on the lives of women in Milton Keynes. If you are interested in supporting this fund, please get in touch via