International Women’s Day: Emma Harrison on women challenging the status quo

By 06/03/2020Stories

Emma Harrison, Chief Executive of IMIX looks across the refugee and migration sector at the women who inspire her.


Throughout my career, I have been fortunate enough to work with women who want to support and encourage other women to thrive.  The team at IMIX often hear me say: ‘The women I work with inspire me so much,’ and not just on International Women’s Day. On a daily basis, I see women who challenge the status quo and work to make the world a better place for refugees and migrants. Unfortunately, their voices are not always heard.

One of the hardest elements of my job is getting more profile for women. The media talks about diversity but they often mean a different kind of man (sorry to all the lovely chaps I work with, but you know it’s true). So, in media terms, today is a great ‘hook’ to talk about my sisters who are fighting for a fairer immigration system and for a more equitable society.

The organisation which continually inspires me is Women for Refugee Women, but particularly their trailblazing Deputy Director Marchu Girma who champions the rights of women who are seeking asylum and continually challenging the rest of us to do more to include their experience. If you haven’t been to a WRW event, you are missing out, you’ll leave with fire in your belly and joy in your heart.

Leila Zadeh, the Director of  UKLGIG and her team work tirelessly to fight prejudice and support LGBT people seeking asylum. A positive and passionate defender of migrant rights, UKLGIG run drop-ins up and down the country to help people through the process of seeking asylum.

What list of amazing women would be complete without Zrinka Bralo the Director of Migrants Organise. Zrinka is leading the way on how to work with migrants and support them to organise within their communities. Creator of the Women on The Move Awards, Zrinka is always turning the spotlight onto other women.

Alicja Kaczmarek from Polish Expats Association has worked hard to build bridges within her community since the vote to leave the EU. Alicja drives discussions about integration while also celebrating Polish culture within British society.

And finally, I wanted to give a special mention to Sally Daghlian who has given me so much support and encouragement since I joined the migration sector. Sally leads Praxis, a charity for migrants and refugees. They were at the centre of the work for Windrush Justice and support hundreds of people to get their status in the UK.

As always, there are so many other women I could have included in this list. I’d encourage you to seek out migrant and refugee women and if you’re in the position to do so, step aside and give them the platform.

Author IMIX

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