SOAS University of London

Alumni Engagement

Furthering Black Women in Higher Education and Careers (Virtual Event)

Zeinab Badawi, Lavinya Stennett, Mx Busisiwe Deyi, Dr Emilia Onyema

Date: 15 October 2020Time: 6:00 PM

Finishes: 15 October 2020Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Panel Discussion

About this Event

This year arguably marks one of the most important Black History Months since their inception in 1987. In 2020 the world finally began to openly discuss ‘Black Lives Matter’, and the UK has started conversations discussing our shared history and its link to the vast inequalities that impact Black people today.

UK Universities and workplaces have been heavily criticised for failing to promote and recruit Black and minority ethnic academics. Less than 1% of higher education academic staff are Black within the UK and the latest data shows the BAME attainment gap is 13.2%, with the largest difference being between black and white students. The UK only has 695 Black women as teaching academics, out of a total of 100,365 women in academia. In regard to career imbalances in the UK, 77% of white people are employed, compared to 65% of people from all other ethnic groups combined. Employment rates for Black women (ages 16 - 64) decrease further to 63%, compared to 72% of Black men in the UK. These disparities are a significant issue, where inequalities of race, gender and class are interconnected.

Looking towards the future, our panel will create a dialogue of insight for black women on their academic and professional career journey, as we collectively work to shift these institutional paradigms and make real change. We will have a roundtable discussion and Q&A, celebrating the success of black women and also discussing how they can get the most out of their education and careers.

Register for this event on Eventbrite.

Roundtable Host

Dr Emilia Onyema is the Pro-Director Learning & Teaching at SOAS University of London, a senior lecturer in the Law Department of SOAS, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Dr Onyema teaches international trade law and international commercial arbitration on the SOAS LLM program. She was formerly a research fellow at the School of International Arbitration, Queen Mary University of London. Dr Onyema is qualified to practice law in Nigeria (since 1989), a solicitor in England & Wales (since 2002), and is the alternate tribunal secretary of the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal in London. She holds a PhD in international commercial arbitration with research interests in sales law, and is widely published in these areas. She is the author of the Chartered Institute’s workbook on Introduction to International Commercial Arbitration and her book, International Commercial Arbitration and the Arbitrator’s Contract was published in February 2010 by Routledge & Cavendish.

Roundtable Speakers

Ms Zeinab Badawi is a prolific broadcast journalist for the BBC. She has worked on programmes Hard Talk, Global Questions and Word Debate among many others. She studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University and obtained a Master's Degree (with distinction) in Middle East History and Anthropology from SOAS. In 2011 Ms Badawi was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Arts London and a Honorary Doctorate by SOAS for her services to international broadcasting. She has extensive experience in television and radio and is one of the best known broadcast journalists working in the field today. Through her own production company she has produced and presented many programmes, including currently the definitive television series of Africa’s history in association with UNESCO, broadcasted on BBC World TV. Badawi’s awards include International TV Personality of the Year (the Association of International Broadcasters) and the Movie, Video and Screen Award (MVISA) life time achievement award. Ms Badawi was also awarded The British Academy’s President’s Medal for services to broadcasting and advocacy for female education. She has been named several times in Powerlist as one of Britain’s top 100 most influential members of the black community and has been named as one of the Top 50 Most Influential Members of the African Diaspora. She is Chair of the Royal African Society, a Queen’s appointment to the Board of Historic Royal Palaces, a Vice-President of the UN Association UK, a trustee of BBC Media Action and Hampstead Theatre and an advisory board member of the Africa Innovation Summit.

Ms Lavinya Stennett is a historian, writer and recent First Class graduate from SOAS. She is the founder and CEO of The Black Curriculum. The vision to create The Black Curriculum came from first hand experiences in British formal education, where she witnessed the effects of systemic disenfranchisement through the exclusion of Black pupils and Black British history. Young people learning general 'Black history' in the lone month of October was simply not good enough for Ms Stennett. During her study abroad in Aotearoa, she was interested in the way Indigenous and colonial history was a part of everyday life and was made accessible to everyone at all ages. She is determined to challenge the Eurocentricity of the school curriculum at a nationwide level. Ms Stennett believes in the power of education, and the arts to ultimately transform the lives of people.

Mx Busisiwe Deyi has been a lecturer at the Department of Jurisprudence since 1 May 2019. They obtained their degrees LLB (Nelson Mandela University), LLM (University of Pretoria) and MA (School of Oriental and African Studies). They have worked with and undertaken research and consultancy work within the South African legal NGO space, focusing on equality and non-discrimination in general and gender equality specifically. Mx Deyi worked for Justice Edwin Cameron and Justice Nonkosi Zoliswa Mhlantla at the Constitutional Court of South Africa as a law clerk. Additionally they have worked with NGOs such as Gender DynamiX, the Legal Resources Centre, the Women’s Legal Centre Trust, the ISLA (Institute for Strategic Litigation) where they are currently working on developing a curriculum for public interest litigation lawyers in West Africa. They have also worked on various public cases as a legal strategist. Notable cases they have worked on include the Tanzania 13 Case (Tanzania), KOS and Others v Minister of Home Affairs and Others (South Africa). Mx Deyi’s main interests include Black feminist legal theory, Queer theory, critical race studies, critical perspectives on transgender legal reform, constitutionalism, and democratization.

Event Access

Once you have registered for the event you will receive a link to access the event closer to the day.

If you would like to pre-submit a question, please email:

Organiser: SOAS Events

Contact email: