North West Migrants Forum

Choose To Challenge Event 6th March 2021

4th Day Seminar – Saturday 6th March – Choose To Challenge.

Choose to challenge; BME women Call to Action Conference hosted by Mary-Funmi Abayomi

Reclaiming Our Voice in Civic and public Spaces

Programme Commencing 12.05pm

Saturday 6th March, 2021

12:05 – 12:10pm Opening Remarks
Mary-Funmi Abayomi
Women in Politics

12.10 -12:30pm

Borders and Communities after Brexit – an opportunity for leadership

Katy Hayward

12.30 -12:45pm

My experience – Young women in politics

Cara Hunter

12:45 – 1:00pm My experience – Young mothers in politics

Racheal Ferguson

1.00- 1.10pm Discussion/ Q&A

Katy Hayward, Cara Hunter and Racheal Ferguson


1:10 – 1:25pm Break


BME women Call to Action

1:25– 2:40pm Panel Discussion
Lilian Seenoi-Barr
Ivanka Antova
Sipho Sibanda
Naomi Green
Coumilah Manjoo
Hosted by Mary-Funmi Abayomi

2:40 – 3:00 pm

Closing remarks and vote of thanks

Hannah Davies


❖ Keynote speaker:
Katy Hayward
Katy Hayward is a Professor of Political Sociology at Queen’s University Belfast and Senior Fellow in the UK in a Changing Europe think-tank. The author of over 300 publications, she has (co)authored/edited several books and reports, including three reports for the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) on the impact of Brexit in the border region. Katy has presented evidence on Brexit and Ireland/ Northern Ireland before several parliamentary committees, policy groups and officials in the UK, Ireland, EU, and USA, and regularly contributes
to media and civic discussions on the topic. In 2020, she received a special Ewart-Biggs Memorial Award for the commentary provided by her Twitter account @hayward_katy.

❖ Guest speakers:
Cara Hunter MLA
Cara Hunter joined the SDLP in 2017 and later became a Councillor in 2019. She later co-opted in 2020 as MLA for the East Derry constituency. Cara is now the SDLP Health Spokesperson and sits on the Health Committee in Stormont. She set up the Dual Diagnosis APG to create more accessible support and improved harm reduction models for those struggling with addiction and mental illness. She also has a keen interest in climate change, student concerns, improving and enhancing diversity in elected representatives, and creating
affordable, sustainable childcare in Northern Ireland.
Cllr Rachael Ferguson
Rachael is an Alliance Councillor on Derry City and Strabane District Council, elected in May’s local government election. Rachael is a mother of two; She is director of the Tiny Tots community group and a board member of Strathfoyle Women’s Activity Group, Rachael is also co-founder of an online support group for mothers.

❖ Panel Members:
Hannah Davies
Hannah Davies is a researcher at Ulster University looking at diversity and representation in international peace operations. Previously an international civil servant, she worked for over 10 years with the United Nations, including as Deputy Head of the UN Democracy Fund and Policy Advisor in the UN Mission in Liberia. She also volunteers with NWMF, working on policy and strategic planning, and campaigns for integrated education in Northern Ireland.
Lilian Seenoi Barr
Lilian Seenoi-Barr has over 20 years’ experience of working in the community sector and is the director of the North West Migrant Forum. A former chair of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) for Derry City and Strabane, she holds degrees in Community Development and Social Policy, and Community and Youth Work Studies. In both Kenya and Northern Ireland, Lilian’s work has focussed on human rights and social justice. In the Northern Ireland context, Lilian has sought to build trust and understanding between minority ethnic communities and traditional communities. Lilian has a specific interest in the participation of minority groups in public life, the ways that government and communities deal with cultural diversity, and the role available to minority groups in policy-making. “We are not an addition to society. We are part of society. “I want a vibrant and open society without discrimination where we all accept and respect each other’s human rights.”

Dr Ivanka Antova
Ivanka is the convenor of the United Against Racism (UAR) branch in Belfast. UAR is an all-Ireland, anti-racism, membership-led organisation with branches across the island. Ivanka works as a researcher in the fields of human rights and disability law’.
Sipho Sibanda
She is a human rights activist from Zimbabwe. Sipho is a founding member of Housing4All who campaigns for the rights of people seeking asylum in Northern Ireland. Current Chairperson of Refugee’s Welcome NI, and organisation who match destitute asylum seekers with local host families who can provide accommodation, Sipho has a keen interest in social policy particularly as a tool for social justice, Sipho is also a mother, and in her spare time she enjoys relaxing with a cup of coffee and catching up with friends.
Coumilah Manjoo
Coumilah is originally from Mauritius. As an EU citizen, she has lived in United Kingdom for over a decade. She has also lived in Ireland and France, and Northern Ireland has been home for the last 12 years. She has studied various fields of social sciences as an undergrad and holds an LLM in Human Rights. She has a keen interest in intercultural dialogue and currently works extensively in the voluntary sector with grassroots organizations. She is a daughter, a sister, and a mother of three children.
Naomi Green
Naomi graduated from QUB with a BSc in Zoology and MPhil in Entomology, specialising in genetics. She worked for the NHS in Medical Genetics for many years before leaving to start a PhD and focus on community work following years of volunteering with Belfast Islamic Centre (BIC). She is currently in the second year of her PhD with the University of Ulster focusing on the inclusion and integration of Muslims in Northern Ireland. Her experience with BIC ranges from board membership, governance, advocacy, public relations, interfaith and pastoral care. She is an advocate for social and racial Justice and currently sits on the Racial Equality Subgroup, the Joint Commission Faith Roundtable (Human Rights Commission and Equality Commission), PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) Independent Advisory group and Junior Ministers Faith Roundtable as well as other community ventures. She sits on the National council for the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and was recently re-elected for a second term. Naomi juggles her role as a researcher and volunteer alongside being a mother to four children.

❖ Host
Mary Funmi Abayomi
Funmi Abayomi is a Nigerian. She has lived in Belfast, Northern Ireland since 2013. She holds a degree in Biology Education from a Prestigious University in Nigeria and a degree in Law from the Queens University Belfast. She is currently a key volunteer with a community-based minority led organisation.