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    International Women's Day 2015: Goldsmiths Women Who Made It Happen

    At Goldsmiths, University of London we’re proud of the way our female students, staff, alumnae and honorands have a rich history of affecting real changes in economic, political and social spheres. As we approach International Women’s Day on 8 March 2015, we take a moment to reflect on the achievements of some of the great women who have passed through the Goldsmiths halls and the ways they fit with this year's theme - Make It Happen.

    Angela Davis, Activist, scholar and author

    Angela Davis is an American political activist, scholar, and author. She has been deeply involved in movements for economic, racial, and gender justice since the sixties.

    In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the social problems associated with criminalisation and imprisonment. She is a founding member of Critical Resistance, which is dedicated to the dismantling of the prison industrial complex.

    Her research interests include feminism, critical theory, Marxism and the philosophy and history of punishment and prisons. She was awarded an honorary degree from Goldsmiths in 2013 and has returned to the University since for a number of events, including the Professor Stuart Hall Conference.

    Laura Coryton, Campaigner for ending the tax on tampons

    Goldsmiths student Laura Coryton has launched a campaign to end the tax on tampons and female sanitary products, which are classed as non-essential luxury items and have been subject to VAT since 1973.

    So far over 190,000 people have signed the petition which will be presented to Chancellor George Osborne. As a result of Laura's campiagn, Goldsmiths Students' Union are now selling sanitary products tax-free in the SU shop.

    Laura said: "Goldmiths has given me the confidence to stand up for what is important to me. It has inspired me to think big and to view this issue for what it is; a global issue disadvantaging millions of people around the world and trivialising the marginalisation of issues traditionally associated with women. Most importantly, studying here has made me realise that anything is possible, despite various EU-related legislative hoops!."

    Heidi Mirza, Professor of Race, Faith & Culture

    Heidi Safia Mirza became one of the UK's first black female professors in the 1990s. She completed a PhD at Goldsmiths, investigating the 'maintenance of inequality' of young black women.

    She's an expert in equality studies in education and is internationally renowned for her research on ethnicity, gender, and human rights.

    Heidi is Professor of Race, Faith and Culture in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, and is also a member of the Centre for Feminist Research, which acts as a hub for feminist work at Goldsmiths . Last year she was one of eight winners at the 2014 Media Diversified Eight Women awards, which celebrates the achievements of women of colour across the UK.

    Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre

    Sara Shamsavari

    Jude was awarded an honorary degree from Goldsmiths in 2013. She’s artistic director of the Southbank Centre and has directed more than 100 productions.

    In 2012 she sat on the London Cultural Olympiad Board, which oversaw a programme of over 500 cultural events to celebrate the Olympics. She founded Battersea Arts Centre and Solent People’s Theatre, and she was also founding director of the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

    In 1997, Jude was awarded an OBE for her valuable contribution to the arts.

    Cathy Jamieson, MP and social worker

    Cathy studied art psychotherapy at Goldsmiths before embarking on a career as an art therapist, social worker and community worker.

    For 20 years she worked with disadvantaged groups, supporting in particular young offenders and young people in care. In 1999 she was elected to Scottish Parliament and became Minister for Justice, where she commissioned a major review of Scotland’s civil justice system.

    Today Cathy is an MP and strives for better economic policy in her role as Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

    Kanya King MBE, Founder of the MOBO Awards

    Ivan Coleman

    Kanya studied at Goldsmiths as a mature student and was awarded an honorary fellowship in 2004.

    In 1996 she founded the MOBO Awards, which recognises and celebrates black and urban music in the UK. Kanya re-mortgaged her own home to finance the first MOBO Awards event. Now the show attracts an audience of over 250 million worldwide.

    MOBO also works to support undiscovered talent and provides training and mentoring to help young people achieve their dreams in music and entrepreneurial pursuits. In 1999 she was awarded an MBE for her contribution to the music industry.

    Olivia Owen, Founder of education charity EduHaitian

    In 2010 Olivia founded EduHaitian, a charity that matches children in Haiti with sponsors who pay for their education.

    Over the last few years she has raised over £25,000 for the charity through black tie events, cycling the length of the UK, speaking tours of primary schools, privately hosted events and completing army assault courses.

    Olivia was recently selected to join Sandbox - a global organisation that supports extraordinary young achievers under 30 and connects young professionals. She’s currently studying a BA International Studies at Goldsmiths.

    Sarah Graham, Addictions therapist

    Sarah graduated from Goldsmiths in 1993 with a BA in Anthropology & Communications. She began a successful career in radio and TV, working for BBC Radio 5, Radio 1, Channel 4, CBBC and BBC Entertainment.

    After taking a career break to recover from her personal struggles with drug addiction, Sarah dedicated herself to helping others overcome their own issues. Today she’s a therapist and acupuncturist and recognised as a leading authority on substance misuse by children and young adults.

    She has advised the UK Government on drugs policy through her involvement with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

    In recent years Sarah helped to establish the Amy Winehouse Foundation, and she’s currently fundraising to open a world-class rehab centre for teens in the UK. She's also spoken out about her experiences as an intersex woman, which has helped to raise awareness of intersex issues.

    Natacha Kennedy, Lecturer and trans rights campaigner

    Natacha Kennedy, a lecturer in the Department of Educational Studies, is a well-known figure in the transgender community and was recognised on the Independent on Sunday's Rainbow List 2014 for her continued campaigning for equal rights.

    Her research often focuses on cultural discrimination against trans people, and how this can be used as a means of analysing other forms of discrimination, including sexism and misogyny.

    She has previously hosted a Transgender Day of Rememberance to honour the lives of those who have died through acts of anti-transgender violence.

    Althea Greenan, Women's Art Library

    Althea curates The Women's Art Library at Goldsmiths and oversees events relating to the collection, as well as studying for her PhD which she hopes to complete next year.

    To celebrate International Women's Day, Althea is organising a handful of events including the opening of artist-in-residence Anne Krinsky's 'From Absorb to Zoom' which takes place on Saturday 7 March.

    Constance Howard, Textiles pioneer

    "To the End" by Paul Dearman, winner of the 2008 Christine Risley Prize

    Constance joined Goldsmiths as a part-time tutor in 1947 and established the Department of Embroidery. At a time when it was unfashionable among art teachers and was seen as a minor craft, Howard’s vision nurtured the idea of embroidery as an art form and vehicle for artistic self-expression.

    Among other publications, she chronicled the history of contemporary embroidery with the four-volume Twentieth Century Embroidery, and her work was commissioned for the 1951 Festival of Britain, the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery and Lincoln Cathedral.

    Four years after her death in 2000, the Constance Howard Gallery and Goldsmiths Textile Collection was established in her memory.

    Malorie Blackman, Author and Children's Laureate

    Best-selling author Malorie Blackman is one of Britain’s leading fiction writers for children and young adults. She has had over 60 books published, including the multiple award-winning Noughts and Crosses (2001), which was adapted for the stage by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and appeared on the BBC’s Big Read list as one of the nation’s favourite books.

    Last year she was announced as the new Waterstones Children’s Laureate in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the field.

    However, it wasn't an easy start for her career. From an early age Malorie had wanted to be a teacher, but was met with resistance from her career's adviser, who told her that “black people don’t become teachers” and refused to give Malorie a reference for her first choice degree, studying English and Drama at Goldsmiths. Speaking about the experience on Desert Island Discs, Malorie recalled: “I remember looking at her and thinking, ‘well I’ll show you, you old cow!’ If anything it actually made me work harder.”

    She was made an Honorary Fellow of Goldsmiths in 2011.

    PJ Harvey, Internationally acclaimed musician

    Seamus Murphy

    Polly Jean Harvey has released eight studio albums and is the only artist to have won the Mercury Prize twice, for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2001) and Let England Shake (2011).

    In addition to her musical career PJ Harvey paints, draws, sculpts, and writes poetry. In December 2013, she gave her debut public poetry reading at the British Library, and was a guest editor on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. She was also awarded an MBE for services to music.

    Goldsmiths awarded PJ Harvey an Honorary Degree in 2014.

    Do you know of a Goldsmiths student, staff or alumna who has 'Made It Happen'?

    Tell us @GoldsmithsUoL #MakeItHappen

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