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MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014





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MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

StafF Editor in Chief Mirela Sula


Ivana Bartoletti Campaigner and politician on a mission

Sub-editor Trevor Clarke


Ask Judy page 8

Dossier Domestic Violence If love hurts, don’t let it kill you page 16

Mary Mason: Picking up the pieces page 22

My story: How I survived from domestic violence page 24

interview Baybars Altuntas: Tips from the Dragon for Women page 26

Special Being migrants has empowered us page 30

Svietlana Lavrentidi: Role model is my mum page 32

A question for three entrepreneurial women living in London

Ask the expert page 41

interview Anastasija Melnikova: My mission in life is to make people happy page 42

article Aura Imbarus: We are all migrants page 46

interview Zrinka Bralo: Changing lives for better page 48

article Sarah Alexander: Can your Intuition Help you as a Migrant Woman in the UK Today? page 50

page 34

people Nerea Carrion: Be happy and smile

page 36

Ana Filipovska: How meditation changed my life

Mariana Lucía Marquez & Emma Zangs
: We have “vision talk” career clinic Julian Childs: Are you enjoying the job of your dreams? page 38

page 52

page 52

Jasmina Paul – Yoga and emotional healing page 56

Mirella Orsi - Women and Science page 60

Editorial team Kristale Rama Lira Sejdini Ermonela Kapedani Rainela Xhemollari Board Members Adelina Badivuku Kath Roberts Avi Esther Shekinah Huda Jawad Marylin Devonish Ozden Bayraktar Contributors Judy Piatkus Sarah Alexander Julian Childs Francesca Moresi Sahar Shahid Aura Imbarus Jasmina Paul Art Director Henrik Lezi Web Designer Steven Clarke Marketing Director Rudina Suti Marketing Lola Ahmeti Elisjada Canameti Amarilda Canameti ADDRESS Migrant Woman LTD Company Number: 08839812 E-mail: Web: London, UK


Letter from the

edit r Mirela Sula

Founder and Editor- in- Chief

Spring in our step

W Check our website for all the articles, posts & news

elcome to the second edition of Migrant Woman. Since launching in April, I have received such an encouraging response, that I have been inspired to make this month’s and all subsequent issues, even better. Migrant Woman appears to be filling a much needed gap in the market. The three main editorial aims are to: Enlighten; Engage; Entertain. There will be more of the third “E” in forthcoming editions with some exciting new features. Our commitment is to maintain a high standard of content quality, with high calibre interviews/articles. Our desire is to change and improve the perceptions of migrants/emigrants, whether it is in the UK or anywhere else in the world. The focus is on women and to publicise the positive side through the constructive contributions they are making. The front cover shows Ivana Bartoletti, London MEP candidate for the European elections on 22 May, who left Italy for London in 2008 and has given us a fascinating insight into her full and varied life as an active campaigner, on a range of issues affecting women’s struggles against prejudice and hardship. This is now a time of intense election campaigning, with immigration a conspicuous and controversial debate. In this issue there is light and shade, with love, relationships, spirituality, meditation, yoga, and inspirational stories from migrant women entrepreneurs. We include those who are British born of second or third generation immigrants, and will observe in future editions the challenges of successfully mixing between two different cultures and languages. On the dark side, there is the subject of domestic violence, which is often overlooked or little reported but that is not the case here. We have two powerful and moving articles, and an interview with the Director of Solace Woman’s Aid, which is an invaluable UK charity that tries to pick up the pieces from shattered lives, utilising limited resources. Finally, a special thank you to all the content contributors for this May issue and to the team that have worked on all the parts that have put it together for what you see now. Everyone has a story to tell and I would love to hear from you.



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014


Migrant entrepreneurs prove their worth Migrants set up one in seven companies in the UK, with people born abroad almost twice as likely to start a business • 14% of companies in the UK were set up by people from abroad • 17% of migrants in UK start a business, but just 10% of Brits do the same • Almost 500,000 people from 155 countries have started firms in the UK

Read more:

Anti-immigration campaign UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has defended his party’s controversial election campaign ahead of the May European elections, after its posters were called “racist”. The party’s economic spokesman, Steven Woolfe, announced the campaign on Twitter on Sunday, and said the giant posters would be “coming to you soon”.

One billboard depicts a man dressed as a builder begging for spare change next to the words: “EU policy at work. British workers are hit hard by unlimited cheap labour.” Read more: http://www.independent.

A hot topic in Britain

Immigration has become a hot topic in Britain ahead of elections in 2015 but a new report by the Centre for Entrepreneurs shows they are crucial to the economy, responsible for starting one in seven UK companies. Hayley Platt talks to one migrant who came to England as a boy 42 years ago and is now a multi-million pound hotelier. Read more: http://business. article/10258066m

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MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014


Judy Do I have to give up from my dream?


Dear Judy, I always dreamed of being a writer and this dream is still alive – repeating all the time “I will be in the future but now I am busy”.

As the years have passed by I feel

more hopeless. Life has put me in difficulties and I have faced a lot of challenges. I came from an Eastern European country to London nine years ago with a big dream for a better life, but this “better” is so slow in coming. My dreams are locked and I don’t know what to do with my life any more. I am a single mother aged 34, with two children. Do I have to give up? This is the question I ask myself every day when I come back home from work, feeling so tired and disappointed that I haven’t become the person I wanted to be in life. Sometimes I feel that my children don’t respect me for this. They know that something is missing in my life. Yet I have to work to take care of them. The job that I do is not the one I like but this is life, I have to survive. Would you be able to give me any suggestions on how I change my life and achieve my dreams? Thank you, B.B.

Since the first issue was published we started to receive letters from readers, some of them were wishing Migrant Woman success and others asked if we would help them with giving advice for their concerns. We heard from BB, who sent a general email to us, which we forwarded to Judy, a successful publisher and business woman, who is happy to help in offering her wisdom for our readers. BB has received a direct reply and is agreeable for her question and Judy’s answer to be published. Do you also have a question for Judy? Write to:

Change the message you give yourself


Dear B.B., You are a brave lady. You came to this country in search of a better life and you did not expect to have the responsibility of bringing up your children on your own. 34 is still a very young age. None of us can know how our lives would have turned out if we had made different choices over the years. Let go of past regrets and focus on making the best of the life you have now. All children want Change the to be loved unconditionally for who they are and they want to be reassured frequently that no matter what message you they do or say, you will always love them. If you do give yourself that, you will never disappoint them because the to ‘I am a strength of your love will be with them at all times. writer now’ so Tell your children you are doing the best you can and focus on trying to improve your own happiness that you don’t because if you become happier, your children will keep putting also become happier. There is always help available your writing if we make the effort to look for it. Find friends to support you as you search for work you prefer off. Hopefully and ask your doctor about other help that you may you will soon need. As you nurture yourself and your family and find time and build your support systems, hopefully everything will become easier. Change the message you give energy to yourself to ‘I am a writer now’ so that you don’t keep follow your putting your writing off. Hopefully you will soon find dream time and energy to follow your dream. Judy


Marian Alonso Photography In support of Migrant Woman magazine, Marian Alonso would like to offer a concession to readers who would like to comission a portrait. Get in touch for details: / / 07956 196 828



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

Ivana Bartoletti Campaigner and politician on a mission By Mirela Sula

Ivana has lived in London for six years, but if you follow her career you would think that she has lived in the UK for most of her life. With an enchanting Italian accent and a huge supportive network, she feels right at home. We met on a sunny spring day. Ivana was preparing to give a speech for the European Parliamentary Elections as the London candidate for the Labour party.


er eloquence and confident approach captivates the attention of every person in the room, so much so that even a young boy watches her attentively. He is her 9-year-old son, who, together with his father, support the human rights advocate and politician. Gazing into his eyes, she asks him enthusiastically, “Did you like it?” “Yes sure!” He replies. We decided to talk on her way out of the meeting about the details of this interview, but immediately I saw that all of her attention is devoted to her son. We have chosen Ivana for our cover story, not only because she has forged a highly successful career whilst being a loving and dedicated mother, but also be-

cause she is a highly ethical individual who has worked most of her life to create equal opportunities for women in all levels of society. In 2012, she was awarded the Best Business Award for Best Personal Achievement in the Public Sector from National Health Service Protect for protecting frontline staff from nuisances and disturbing behaviour such as harassment. In her early 30s, Ivana is young, but has achieved a lot in life. Through this interview we will learn that Ivana is a seeker of justice and shares her positive energy with everyone that she meets. She is an extraordinary woman whose story will not only inspire migrant women, but all women. We would like to share her story with you, as we believe that women like her need to be encouraged as they help make the world a better place.



Photo Credit: Marian Alonso


MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

You migrated to London from Italy 6 years ago - what was your motivation and why London?

I had always thought Britain was a great place to live. I am grateful for Europe’s free movement of citizens, which enabled me to come to Britain and raise a son in London. I am very happy to work for the NHS, which I think is Britain’s greatest institution, and has inspired countries all over the world. In your 6 years in London you have achieved a lot. Who has supported you with your achievements?

So many people! I built my sense of belonging to Britain through the Labour party and the NHS, and through the vibrant and diverse community in Hackney, where I live. Most of all though, I am grateful to the Fabian Women’s Network and its mentoring programme. When I moved here, I realised I couldn’t simply transfer my skills set and experience straight into British politics – I needed mentoring and help with how to navigate a system which was different from the Italian and International political environments I was used to. Seema Malhotra MP and Christine Megson have supported me from day one, and helped me settle in – I owe a lot to the Fabian Society and Hackney Labour. They and others including Diane Abbott MP have been a real inspiration. You are a very active woman and distinguished in the field of women’s issues - what inspires and drives you to be so passionate about it?

My mum taught me feminism at a very young age and I learned very early on how important it is for women to support each other. Inequality deeply disturbs me. I want every child to have the same opportunities. I really couldn’t bear the idea of going through life without doing all I can to make the world a better place. What motivates me is faith in the human race – we can do much better than this. Women are still at the sharp end of inequality and I want to do all I can to change this. You are now a Labour party candidate for the European Elections in May. Can you tell us how this came about?

I felt I was ready for public office again.

Who is Ivana? Ivana is a working mum living in Hackney, London, and is in charge of information governance at NHS Protect. Ivana is the Labour member in Hackney North and Stoke Newington and is standing as London Labour candidate for the 2014 European elections. She is chair of the Fabian Women’s network, founding editor of Fabiana magazine and elected member of the Fabian Society executive and the Labour Women’s Network national committee. Ivana was appointed in 2006 as policy adviser to the Human Rights and Equalities minister under Romano Prodi’s government in Italy.

I was having breakfast with Meg Hillier MP and I told her. She encouraged me to stick at it, and did something which changed my life: she took me into a meeting and told everyone I was going to stand – and told me to start feeling I was a candidate. And that is what I did, which again shows the importance of women supporting each other! I was, and I am, ready to put my face out there and lead by example. It’s a great honour to be a candidate, and a huge responsibility. Why did you choose the Labour party and what do you hope to achieve as an MEP if elected?

I joined the UK Labour as soon as I got to Britain. I had been in Labour sister par-

ties all my life – I chose the Left very early on: I was only a child when I realised how wrong inequality was. I have always felt I was part of the greater union, anti-racism, anti-Apartheid and feminist movements, and grew up with those values. I would like those values to inspire Europe too and I am very worried by the rise of the far right. With more equality and better policies focused on jobs and growth, I am sure we can make Europe better too and fight off the far right. How do you feel leading up to the election and what is it like campaigning as a migrant woman?

I don’t campaign as a migrant woman – I campaign as a Labour politician. Identity is a complex thing: I feel British and


Photo Credit: Steven Clarke

Italian, and many other things. Most of all, I am a professional woman and a Labour politician. How well supported are you by other women to help you attain this goal? How multicultural and diverse is your support?

Diversity brings diversity. The more diverse an organisation is, the more it attracts people from all walks of life. I am supported by people from all backgrounds, both in my politics and in life generally. In some other countries it may be very difficult for a migrant woman to reach such a high level. Is it because of your abilities and character or be-

cause Britain is very supportive to migrants?

have a voice that is listened to in this country?

It is more difficult for women everywhere. And these days I think it is true that for migrant women it is even more difficult. Migrants do get the blame for a lot of things. One common mistake is to think immigration inevitably drives wages down – the truth is that there are some people who use immigration as an excuse to pay people less. Britain is a very diverse country with an interest in meritocracy and at its best, it invests in its best talents – however, it is true that some more intolerant feelings are creeping up. Scapegoating migrants is not only wrong but wasteful.

The NHS wouldn’t work without migrants, and the same is true of so many other sectors of our society. Migrants have brought money and vitality into the British economy. This is why I feel it is wrong to blame immigration – of course, this does not mean that there are no pressures or immigration frictions.

Do you think that migrants in general

In your view, have migrant women integrated well in this society?

Yes, and I think language plays a crucial part, and services too. However, I do feel some have no voice. If you take a bus at 5am in the morning from Hackney, you can see many women – mostly migrants – heading



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

into the city to clean the offices of the very few people who make millions. Diane Abbott MP has spoken about the invisibility of these thousands of women in low paid jobs. What is your view of the perception of migrant women in the UK compared with other countries?

It depends. If I think about migrant centres on the outskirts of Rome, I feel basic human rights are completely violated there, or if I think of pregnant women having to risk their lives in the Mediterranean in the hands of criminals and gangmasters. But gangmasters exist in Britain too, as there is low pay and illegal immigration – which we have do deal with. Do you remember any point of your life as a migrant that you felt weak and vulnerable? If you can, please let us know more and how you overcame that.

I am a professional woman with a background in international politics – I have a reasonably well paid and secure job; and I speak good English. That is to say that most of the time I feel secure – and personal relationships are very important for feeling sane, too. But sure, I have felt vulnerable at times in my life. You get knocked down and have to get back up. Where do you find your strength and energy to be so actively involved and how do you balance that with your personal life?

I find energy in those who have fought for equality before me, and in those who are sharing the journey with me now. Occasionally, when I am in a low mood, I rely on those who are closest to me. I know there are things you have to give up when you lead a busy life. When I feel I cannot keep up I remind myself that women have been mis-sold the idea that we can do it all and so we often feel we have to be Wonder Woman. Not really, perfection does not exist and I am fine with that! Can you give any advice on how migrant women can become empowered?

First, join a union. Second, get involved in the local community. Third, vote – and take action if there is some-

thing you don’t like. You were married for 8 years - what was your experience of marriage, and the period when it came to an end?

He is a great father and we have a wonderful nine year old, that is the most important thing. I am not religious but am quite spiritual and I do think everything in life teaches you something – I do not regret anything at all. We only have one life and you always have to try and aim for the best. Your ex husband supports you at some of your activities - are you still good friends and how did you manage that?

Yes, we continue to be very good friends. Separation is never an easy thing! But if things have changed, then you owe it to yourself and your children to try and take ownership of your own life, however difficult that might be. For migrant women from different cultures finding it difficult in an unhappy or a violent relationship, what would be your message for them?

I often talk to women who have experienced violence. Services and support to women have been dramatically cut, and this is terrible. Domestic violence is still a reality and women of all backgrounds need to rely on services to protect them. My message is that, although too few, there are places where you can seek for help and safely escape if you are a victim of violence – and you can protect your children, too. What would be your message for the readers of MW magazine as a future MEP? What alternative would you offer for them?

I would like a Labour London, a Labour Britain and a Labour Europe – I think more women in better paid jobs, more childcare, more women at the top in politics and businesses could be a real boost for the economy. Women hold our communities together – I see this constantly at the school gate. We have to be proud of this. I am determined to continue my fight for the diversity of Britain to invigorate at every level of our society, and I hope my own experience can support others to join in this fight.

It is more difficult for women everywhere. And these days I think it is true that for migrant women it is even more difficult. Migrants do get the blame for a lot of things. One common mistake is to think immigration inevitably drives wages down – the truth is that there are some people who use immigration as an excuse to pay people less



Photo Credit: Marian Alonso


MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

domestic violence

If love hurts, don’t let it kill you Domestic violence. When we hear these words, we think of it as something that happens to other people, to a few unfortunate people, and perhaps something that happens to certain types of people. Domestic violence is a gender based issue, occurring to predominantly more women than men, but it is not limited to any race; religion; economic background; social status or any other factor which divides society


By Sahar Shahid

ne in four women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives, that’s 1 in 4 too many if you ask me. The reason it is an unfamiliar or alien concept is because most of us are not aware of what it really is, although we may have experienced it or know someone that is suffering from domestic violence. Let’s dismantle the words to understand what it actually means: Domestic; this does not mean that it happens only within the home, it means that it happens within the context of an intimate relationship. However, violence is not only limited to physical violence. Many types of abuse fall under the term domestic violence. Two women per week are killed by a partner or ex-partner in the UK. To me that is a sickeningly shocking figure. It makes me deeply question the world we live in; where the basis of a relationship is professed to be love, yet it


Coercive control Once a woman has experienced physical violence of any sort, there may always be a constant threat for the potential of further violence. This spoken or unspoken threat is intimidation and is in essence controlling the victim’s behaviour without using actual physical violence. When a woman is forced to do something, or told not to do something and she complies out of fear, intimidation, humiliation or threat to the extent that she feels forced, it is known as coercive control. As a violation of human rights this takes away someone’s choice and free will. Taking away someone’s right to privacy, isolating them from others, obstructing means of fulfilling personal goals, or taking away someone’s self-respect are other examples of coercive control.

is costing people their lives. Love shouldn’t hurt, but it certainly shouldn’t kill. This statistic from the Home Office on its own is enough to illuminate how serious the issue of domestic violence is. As a Case Worker for victims of domestic and sexual abuse and other gender based violence, I write this article as a professional from the sector of Violence Against Women and Girls; as a worker who supports survivors of gender based abuse; and most importantly as a woman, raising awareness about challenges that women face on a daily basis but may not know that there is help and support available or even that what they experience is in fact abuse. To hurt someone physically gives you physical power over them and control over their behaviour, but it also instils fear in their mind, therefore giving the perpetrator (person being abusive) power and control over someone’s mind, thoughts and emotions too. For the purposes of this article, and because domestic violence is mainly perpetrated by men towards women, I will use ‘he’ or ‘the man’ when referring to the

perpetrator and ‘she’ or ‘the woman’ when talking about the victim or survivor of domestic violence. This is not to say that men do not experience domestic violence, either by other men or women. The weight of emotional abuse

Often overlooked or unidentified; name calling and swearing are a form of verbal abuse. The aim here is to undermine the woman’s worth by taking away her dignity and making her feel that she is unimportant. Intertwined with verbal abuse is emotional abuse. The desired effect of the abuse is to eliminate the woman’s self-esteem and confidence, to make her question herself and feel that she is alone in her battles with the only help or ‘love’ coming from the perpetrator himself. Often victims believe that emotional abuse is not really abuse. Examined more closely it becomes clear that the devastating effects of continuous emotional abuse can even take someone’s life in the form of suicide. Emotional abuse however, is not visible to the naked eye like a physical wound or injury. Often women say ‘he didn’t hit me so I couldn’t understand it as abuse, or tell anyone about what he was doing, because he made me feel that no one would believe me’, this is the insidious way that emotional abuse works. “You’re worthless”- He says

Imagine a woman who is continuously told that she is no good, ugly, can’t cook or clean properly, not a good mum and she should be thankful to him for being with her. She believes he is telling the truth, because he knows her well, and of course he is in charge and she must make him happy but can’t seem to, no matter how much she changes herself. This gradual emotional control is abuse. To humiliate her in front of friends and family is abuse. To stalk her, then question her about who she meets and why, accusing her of various things in connection with the people with whom she associates, then justifying this by telling her that he still loves her and needs to know that she is safe, is abuse. To constantly keep a check on her and hold her accountable for every minute of her time is having unjustified control and power over someone’s life, and therefore abuse. He stalks her to



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

have control over her and not accepting that their relationship is over. He is trying to change her mind or simply intimidating her as punishment for breaking up with him. That too is abuse. When a man threatens to leave a woman, divorce her, have her deported to her home country unless she agrees with whatever he demands, it is abuse. Threatening to call social ser-

At the beginning of the relationship, he may present himself as everything she wants in a man, and only slowly he will test how far he can go in controlling her, until she decides to step back. This illustrates how domestic abuse can happen to anyone, and there is no specific or ‘easy target’ for abuse

vices and to have her children taken away from her, simply because he has the power to do so in order to control her behaviour, and even when she is a mother who is not mistreating the children in any way, that is also abuse. These functions are to isolate her, making her feel that she has no other means of support other than the man who is abusing


Living in the Glass House…


hen I think about the survivors that I work with, I often think that women in abusive relationships may feel trapped within a house… Not one made of bricks, doors and windows, but one fashioned of glass, which has doors and windows but only for the purposes of illustration. A glass house where the outside world is still visible, the attractions very luring, however, the woman still painfully aware that she is on the inside of the cage that separates her from those outside it. And the only way to escape would be to shatter and break this fragile yet powerfully entrapping house and everything that goes with it, to shatter life as she knows it with her own hands. Escaping comes at the immense cost of hurting herself on the broken shards of hopes, dreams, illusions and the many years or even moments spent within this familiar yet alien world. The shattered pieces will undoubtedly injure her in

some way should she break it and step over the pieces to leave the suffocation to walk towards freedom and liberation. What she must remember is that although walking on broken glass may wound her temporarily, she will heal in time… Yet if she never leaves for fear of this hurt she will forever live in suffocation and entrapment in a glass house which sparkles with deception, for those outside it only to disguise the imprisonment and suffering inside. I want you to take a few moments and examine your emotions deep within, to think about whether you are living in a house made of bricks and doors and windows…. Or are you living in a glass house, painfully beautiful to the outside world and at the same time, hideously ugly in the reality of its deception, pain and suffocation that it makes you feel… as you live hidden within the Glass House.

I want you to take a few moments and examine your emotions deep within, to think about whether you are living in a house made of bricks and doors and windows…. Or are you living in a glass house, painfully beautiful to the outside world and at the same time, hideously ugly in the reality of its deception, pain and suffocation that it makes you feel… as you live hidden within the Glass House.

her. He may isolate her by forbidding her to see friends and family, or may work to ruin her relationship with them. He may even behave exceptionally nicely with others, causing the woman to feel that even if she spoke out, no one will believe her. Sometimes the man may give her the delusion that she is mad or crazy and that no one will believe her because of this. This moves into

the realm of psychological abuse. The woman may begin to consider herself mentally ill, leaving even less scope for the woman to reach out for help. However, there is often a turning point when the woman realises that she cannot take the abuse anymore. It may be that the man has now used physical violence, or has abused her in front of her children or even begun to use the children

as a way of controlling or manipulating her. Did she really have a choice?

Many times I hear that people are aware of what sexual abuse is - that it is abuse when there is no consent. However, what is often overlooked is when a woman feels she must do something to please the man again for fear of the consequences, emotional hurt-



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

ing, physical pain or psychological harm. Also, withdrawing or withholding himself sexually from the woman in order to coerce or force her into agreeing with him is also a form of sexual abuse. This control may also happen by withholding food, threatening to throw her out of the home or by taking away other necessities unless she agrees to do what he wants. Although many people believe that with emotional abuse and certain types of sexual abuse, because the man isn’t ‘doing anything’ to the woman, then she is not being abused. The key lies in the control and power he wishes to have over the woman. The man will often use the children to control the woman further, thereby inducing a feeling of guilt and believing that she then has no choice but to agree to his demands. It becomes easier to see that although he has not physically or sexually hurt her, he is still being very abusive to her by violating her rights and to the children. It is important to note that although she may have given her consent, the question is about whether she has any real choice in the matter. “I must have been an easy target…”

The nature of domestic abuse is so devious it often creeps up gradually, so that the woman doesn’t realise his intentions of controlling her. Not until he has achieved that control. This is the case because at the beginning of the relationship, he may present himself as everything she wants in a man, and only slowly he will test how far he can go in controlling her, until she decides to step back. This illustrates how domestic abuse can happen to anyone, and there is no specific or ‘easy target’ for abuse, as is often believed by many victims. When someone chooses to abuse another person, that abuse is the fault of the perpetrator, not the victim.

“You made me do it…”- He said

One would think that being abusive means being mean or harsh to someone. However, we should consider that in this deceptive game of control, being nice and ‘loving’ can also be part of the abuse. What I would like to bring to your attention here is the cycle of abuse. This is where the perpetrator, once realising that his victim is

Escaping is possible. Undoubtedly it is difficult, but no one should live with abuse. Although familiar, in the long run, abuse is more painful and can cost lives

beginning to understand his tactics, will begin to show her the side of himself that he perhaps shows to the world; the charming, caring and altruistic side. Sometimes he may even tell her that when he demands certain things from her, it is for her own good, and he will say it in such a way that her heart will melt just the way he wants it to. This will convince her to forgive him and care for him again, and whether he has apologised is a separate matter altogether. One of the most common things that survivors of domestic violence tell me is that he tells her “If you didn’t behave in this way I wouldn’t need to hit you/ shout at you/ lock you up”. The variations are endless, with the only purpose being to make her believe that she caused his behaviour. The cycle will eventually start again and the woman will continue to wait for the ‘loving’ man to emerge again, not realising that that persona is the deception, and merely a mask. Patterns of controlling behaviour

Abuse also exists in financial terms. A man may stop his partner from working and becoming independent. He may allow her to work, but then control how she spends her income, while not sharing his own. This control over her income may not even be direct, but achieved through making her feel guilty for spending on herself for example. Domestic abuse and coercive control are usually a pattern of events or behaviours which when examined, have the effect of controlling the victim in some way. One common ques-

tion we hear when talking about abusive relationships is “Why doesn’t she leave him?” I that hope after reading this article it will have sparked some thought in the readers about the various factors, which are at play in preventing a woman from leaving an abusive relationship. And also how absolutely essential it is for someone to reach out, understand and believe a woman when she says she doesn’t feel right about some aspect of her relationship. She may not know exactly which part herself, but a friendly ear and a caring heart can help her to decide, for herself, what she really wants to do about the pain and suffering she may be finding difficult to put into words. There is help available to victims of domestic or sexual violence, or other gender based abuse. The key is to reach out for it. Domestic violence support agencies, like Solace Women’s Aid, help to empower women, give them freedom over their choices and support them in whatever it is that they decide they want to do. There are safe houses for women and children which survivors can access, there is emotional support, counselling, and even advocacy support, which can help victims to interact with other agencies in getting them the help they need and have their voices heard. Escaping is possible. Undoubtedly it is difficult, but no one should live with abuse. Although familiar, in the long run, abuse is more painful and can cost lives. Help others by talking about it, and you could be saving a life. More importantly, examine and help yourself if you are suffering. No one has the right to abuse another person.


Providing confidential support to survivors Providing confidential support to survivors



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MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

Mary Mason Domestic Violence Picking up the pieces By Lela Struga


ary Mason is the Director of Solace Women’s Aid, leading this organisation with passion and energy in supporting women and children affected by domestic and sexual violence. She was born and brought up in Birmingham, England. Over the years, Solace has helped a lot of women from different nationalities that have been in a bad

place, due to the domestic violence they have experienced. Solace Women’s aid helps over 7,000 victims of violence and abuse each year. When I told Mary about my new project with “Migrant Woman” magazine, her first reaction was “How can I help”? Mary kindly agreed to be interviewed so that our readers can be informed of how an organisation like Solace can change and improve the lives of many women, including migrant women living in the UK.

Do you think that women are aware that there is support for them in leaving an abusive relationship?

I think there is still a huge silence about domestic and sexual abuse. It is not discussed and spoken about and there is huge stigma and blame attached to the woman rather than the perpetrator of violence. A huge part of our role is to link in with other services and professionals, talking about domestic violence, raising


Mary Mason - Director of Solace

what it means within a wide range of different circles, speaking with women in schools, children’s centres, community organisations etc. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Although we are quite a big organisation our resources are still very small compared to the mainstream media message that women’s bodies and main purpose is to please men and if men abuse them it is their fault. These messages are still strong in society. For us to combat that with our small amount of money and resources is difficult. I think that a lot more needs to be done by government, who have the biggest responsibility around this and they really need to be leading an awareness campaign. From schools to GPs, to television and the media, and everywhere else, the message must be that violence against women, girls and children is not acceptable and that actually it is a perversion to use violence against people who are your children, or who you have an intimate relationship with. Therefore firstly society won’t accept it but secondly your friends and relatives and people you know won’t accept it. There is support for women’s independence and against violence on women and girls but this is still at a local low key level. It needs to be a major government campaign resolved to make a difference to millions of women and girls lives. There are some myths that exist which say that domestic violence happens because of someone’s culture or education. What is the truth?

Absolutely not, the truth is, domestic abuse is widely happening. We have doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, cleaners, mothers and single women coming to us for support, people from across the whole social strata. We have people from Kosovo, Albania, the Caribbean, African countries, and South Asian countries, as well as all British races, religions and cultures. It happens across every ethnic group and every age group and every class. The thing that is different is the way that violence is perpetrated and how acceptable it is in society. But if you don’t have money, or if your immigration status is insecure, or you don’t know people in this country, or the system, then the choices that you have in order to get out of that relationship are different. For everyone there are hard and difficult decisions to make. How the abuse is perpetrated and the options that you have are different according to

your immigration or social status. If you are wealthy and have a lot of contacts, you may still get killed, tortured, or hurt but you may have better access to a solicitor, to counselling and housing. Yet it might be that all those options are closed down, with no access to your husband’s money and resources, or that he uses his status to frighten and control you, making you think that nobody will believe you. I spoke to a woman two weeks ago, an accomplished professional, as is her partner, who called the police. When they came, the police didn’t believe her and believed him when he said “Do you think that this kind of thing would happen in this household?” He used his power to convince the police that domestic violence wasn’t happening there. Yet both of them were professional people, who knew the system, knew their rights and knew what they could do but he was able to manipulate it more than her. Do you work with all nationalities, even if they are asylum seekers? Can you please give some more information, because sometimes women who are of an illegal status think that they are not able to seek help.

We are here to support all women. In an emergency they should call the police. We understand that some women feel scared and are unsure of their rights. This is why we ensure all our staff are fully trained in how to support all women including those with an insecure immigration status or who are unsure of their rights. What is your inner drive or motivation to protect these women?

I have always been motivated by a desire to make a difference and to live in a fairer world, using my voice alongside others to make sure that there are systems in place to assist and protect people, enabling them to live fulfilling lives. Some people, once they have discovered their mission and purpose in life, want to convey it to other people. Do you feel you have achieved this?

I think that I always have been somebody who wanted to make a difference, to see change happening, and have been quite active in going about looking for ways of doing that. If I look back at the years spent doing this work,

there is still a long way to go. We have begun to make changes, our voices are being heard, with people talking and understanding more about the devastating impact of domestic and sexual abuse. It is now mentioned in the United Nations, with treaties, and we have conventions. It is talked about nationally and internationally as well as locally, and that’s because of the work we have been doing. Can you tell us how you manage to be so successful at work, and keep a personal life balance?

For me it is important that I have social and family life and that I keep myself fit, so I put in the time to do all those work related things in the week. Obviously I have to work hard, but I’ve got a lot of energy. I’m lucky. Are you fulfilled in everything in life?

Nobody is fulfilled in everything in life, are they? Everybody is driven. If you are fulfilled in everything in life, then you are not being driven very much. You have to have things you are working towards, because that helps to drive you. So I have a lot of plans and ideas. What is the message that you have for the readers of Migrant Woman? What would you say to women who are still thinking of whether to report domestic abuse or to stay silent?

I think it is complicated and complex. It is difficult for everybody and the more difficulties you have in your life, the harder it is. Yet there are other women who are experiencing the same thing, but have made decisions to live and to move forwards with their lives. Solace Women’s Aid is here to help. We do understand the difficulties migrant women will have is often more complex than for somebody who has been born and brought up in their native country. The systems in a new country, such as Britain, might seem complex or not understood very well. There might be language issues, or the threat that you are going to be returned to your country of origin, which might be painful or impossible for you. We do listen and understand those issues. We have a very diverse workforce and many of the women working for Solace are also migrant women, whose experience and understanding helps us to give the best response to other migrant women who are seeking support.



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

my story

How I survived the torture of

domestic violence


y name is Reshu, I am 30 years old but feel that more years are on my shoulders. I am originally from Pakistan and have been living in England for 10 years now. I came with a dream in my pocket, to create a better life for myself and the children I would give birth to in the future. To have a family and be happy with my husband that was waiting for me in England, through an arranged marriage.

Immediately after my arrival, I had to face a different reality from the one I had imagined. My new husband took me to live with his cousins, up to 10 people in one house, and I felt estranged in a foreign place. I did not have any liberty, was not free to be my own self, and living in extremely difficult conditions. I would often to have to shower with cold water in the winter peak because his cousins did not turn on the hot water for saving purposes. Fortunately after a few months, I moved with my husband to live in a bigger place on our own. I was happy, and thought that with just the two of us things would change for the better but it did not happen that way. I became completely isolated. He locked me in the flat, many floors high of an enormous building and took the keys with him. I did not have the right to pass the door step, to shop or go out with friends. As soon as I started talking immedi-

ate violence would also start. Returning from work he would instantly find a reason to beat me with whatever he had in his hands, making me bleed and leaving scars. He would scream at me with offensive words and leaving me abandoned until his anger had gone away. He did not stop violating me, even when I was pregnant with my son. I cannot forget how much I suffered – particularly at a time when I was 8 months pregnant. He came home full of anger and asked me “Where is the food”? I carefully placed it on the table and he turned and put his hands on my throat. “What kind of food is this, you should know I do not eat this”. I do not know how I survived the night from such a severe beating. I had been beaten to unconsciousness and lay in that state until getting up the next day. Two months later, when my son was just one month old, I was breast-feeding him when my husband asked me for something but I could not move immediately. He pulled my son off, and then started beating me as hard as he could. I was again unconscious on the floor. The next morning I was at least relieved that my son was safe. The violence each day became even more terrible. I started calling his cousins to tell them what was happening. They answered that I had to remain silent and not do anything because he was the man. I did not understand why he was being aggressive about everything. If we went out and a man looked at me, I knew that he would beat me

later. Or if we were in the supermarket and the person working there said “Hello madam, can I help you?” he would be irritated and tell me “Why did he talk to you, do you know him?”. How was I supposed to know him, I stayed at home all of the time, locked inside. Even when my other son was born a few years later, nothing changed between us and he became even more terrifying. I also told his sister who was living in another country about it but her reply was that “Men are all like this”. I knew that men are often like this where I came from but did not expect for such a thing to happen in England. I was so scared for myself and for my children. The neighbours were constantly hearing noises and conflict between us and one day they called the police. The first time the


Now that he is out of my life I am completely free, and I cherish every moment. I go out with my children to the park, take them to school, talk regularly with them, see their smiles, and hear their laughter.

Do you have a moving and personal story to share? Please contact us at:

police came they found me bleeding and warned him that if this was to happen again they would take measures against him. Yet he continued with his violence and I then called the police, as I could not tolerate it anymore. I was ruined as a person and did not have the strength to survive anymore. The British police saved my life because they removed him from my life but I did not know how to take him away from my children’s life as well. I did not have permission to live in this country, did not have a house, or anywhere to live. He took the children, and I remained knocking on friends doors to temporarily lodge until I founded a job. Later on, I rented a studio flat, with help from the government and I also found a part-time job. Meanwhile, life without my children

Some specific details have been changed to protect the security and identity of the person telling the story

was a hell and I started meeting them at my husband’s house. I went there just to be with them but he notified social services, telling them that I had problems and that I was dangerous for the children. I had to live for one year without my children and only my heart knows how much I suffered, until recently, after appealing to the Court it was decided that the children should stay with me. This is not yet a battle won because I should find a bigger place with more space to live with them and offer them a better life. I feel very guilty because they have witnessed horrible things in our life. Both have witnessed horrific violence at home and are still suffering after moving from living with their father to living with me. This makes me feel bad, but on the other hand, I am happy that they are back with me. Now that he is out of my life I am completely free, and I cherish every moment. I go out with my children to the park, take them to school, talk regularly with them, see their smiles, and hear their laughter. I can go out with friends and try to enjoy life and little things. I would like to attend a language course to improve my English language skills and then find a better job. In Pakistan I worked as a teacher but do not know if this dream will come true here. The important thing is that I survived the violence and I have the courage now to freely dream with real hope about my future and the future of my children.



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014


Baybars Altuntas

Tips from the Dragon for Women Baybars Altuntas is a Turkish entrepreneur, speaker and author based in Istanbul. He founded Deulcom International, a vocational training school in 1992 and currently serves as the president of the executive committee of Deulcom. He is also a dragon on the Dragon’s Den Turkey, The Turkish version of the Dragon’s Den TV show. In 2011, he wrote ‘Off the Bus, into a BMW’. The book has been reprinted 24 times and translated into five languages You have reached the highest point in business and are now a self-made multi-millionaire. Can you describe the journey to achieving your success?

It wasn’t an easy journey. My father is a retired career army officer and my mother an elementary school teacher, so l didn’t have an opportunity to transfer know-how about business life. I also didn’t have easy access to financing, so I concentrated all my energy on how to convert idle capacity into cash. Bootstrapping, crowd funding, angel investment, banks, public funds, venture capitalists, were all unavailable to me because l had nothing but a brilliant business idea. Then I discovered that the most valuable source of financing was customers. If I could use the idle capacity of the uni-

versity where I was studying, for example, into a beneficial service for customers, the customer was ready to finance my startup. When I first registered at the university I was taking public transport to get to school. 36 months later my chauffeur-driven BMW was waiting for me in front of the dorm. I think potential millionaires should focus on the how-to of self-made millionaires in order to understand that they can also do the same thing! Did you believe in the early stages that you would become the person you are today and with the success you have achieved?

I remember that one of my professors at the university used to call me ‘the millionaire boy of the future’. Whenever she called me that I remembered the times at

home when my parents referred to me as ‘the little Jew of the family’. Muslims in Turkey always believe that Jews are particularly competent in business affairs. All of my family are Muslim and all of them were working for the government or companies (my mother had 4 brothers and 1 sister; my father had 5 brothers and 1 sister; and there was no entrepreneur among them). I was the only boy in the family who, at the age of 8, was converting Turkish Lira into Dollars, and then when rates changed in my favour, converting Dollars back into Turkish Lira. That’s the way I got my nickname. As a Dragon investor in Turkey, what inspires you to invest your money in a business or entrepreneur?

Investing in the right entrepreneur is very important for me. The entrepreneur


first million dollars by the age of 25 and now that 19 years have passed, I still can’t understand the difference. I have to confess that, in the first years of my millionaire life, I always hired a chauffeur. Now I drive myself because I understood that it is more enjoyable. I don’t enjoy talking on my phone when there is someone in the car listening, so my chauffeur just serves my parents now. It used to be that, when I attended a reception or a party, nobody asked me how much money I had in my bank account. If you are upset because you haven’t been able to get rich, you have to re-think what you lose. Whether you fly business class or economy class, remember that they both go to the same destination and arrive at the same hour. Many rich people give some of their wealth to charity. Do you do the same?

comes first, and then the business idea. So I try to understand if the individual pitching to me is an entrepreneur or would-beentrepreneur. Shall I invest in the horse or the jockey? I know that if the jockey is not capable of driving the horse, then any investment in the horse will be pointless. If I decide I can get along with this entrepreneur, then I look at the business model, not the business plan. I know that business plans are full of estimated figures that have no relationship to real figures. So I first try to understand the business model the entrepreneur has developed. I try to understand whether the business model is implementing my technique: converting idle capacity into cash! How well does the entrepreneur’s nose smell money and how does s/he run to this money by using idle capacity of other people, which

means with a minimum budget. I try also to understand if an entrepreneur who comes to the Den needs both me and my money. If I see that the entrepreneur just needs my money, I give the address of the nearest bank to apply for a loan. I need entrepreneurs who need my network, mentorship and know-how. The real source of inspiration comes from the entrepreneurs themselves. What is the life of a multi-millionaire? What is the difference between you and other people?

Before making my first million, I was thinking that becoming a millionaire was something quite different but I couldn’t perceive that difference and thought I would only understand the difference after becoming a millionaire. I made my

I don’t donate my wealth to charity but I do have a charity-like programme that I finance. The Baybars Altuntas Ambassadorship Programme is a wellknown programme in Turkey. I select 25 university students from 25 universities every year and appoint them as my ambassadors of entrepreneurship to their respective universities. Then I provide online training to them, teaching them how to make money from scratch. At the end of the year, the one who makes the most money receives a matching amount from me. I have also launched this programme globally, but with a different format, where my ambassadors learn about making money and business by using my idle capacity concept. My ambassadors in Albania, Kosovo, Kazakhstan and China are now trying to convert idle capacity into cash by translating my books into their own languages. If you were asked to give advice on how to make money, what would be your reply, and would that advice be any different for migrants?

If you are a migrant, then: Use your eyes to see more than to look. Use your nose to smell money more



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

than to smell flowers. Use you ears to listen in order to react rather than to listen for confirmation. Those are the skills that you have to develop if you are starting your life in a new country. What is your view about the role of women in business and their opportunities for reaching the highest level?

25% of the world’s wealth belongs to women. Yet just 5% of women are very active in the business world. It is very clear that we are wasting a great deal of womanpower to develop our civilisation. Women are, generally, very welcomed when there is an economic crisis in the country. Women’s entrepreneurship is something that should be encouraged by men, policy makers, academics, and the media. We have to increase the ratio of women entrepreneurs globally. Education and a new vision for communities are vital keys to developing women’s entrepreneurship. What inspired you to establish an international vocational training school in Turkey?

I always try to see the big picture in the world, which has told me that creating wealth and jobs are two important issues that individuals and governments have always tried to address. Therefore building a business related to creating new jobs for people would be a very logical business. This vision inspired me at the age of 22 and I made my first start-up in the education industry. I established a vocational training course for would-be flight attendants and placed the graduates with various airlines. This was the first time in Turkey a private vocational school was offering training to potential flight attendants and providing job placement. This business went so well that, at the age of 25, l got off the bus and into a BMW! This became the title of my best-selling book, published a few years ago. You are rich and a famous person, but at the same time you are a husband and father. What advice would you give your children to prepare

them for their future?

I see them as migrants to this world and if they want to be successful on this planet, they don’t need finance. They just need good skills to use their eyes, nose and ears. That is all! I encourage them to work in the summer instead of relaxing at the pool. I found a job for my elder daughter at an

exchange office in the historical Covered Bazaar of Istanbul, where she began learning how to smell money. Such skills are something that you cannot learn by studying but you can acquire by doing them. You can forget everything you learnt in a class if you don’t practise it. But it is impossible to forget what you acquired by actually doing things.


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MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

Entrepreneurial Being migrants has empowered us By Lela Struga


migrant women When a woman migrates, she is aware about the challenges and difficulties that she has to face in the new country. Some of them decide to stop dreaming, as they do not believe that they can succeed in following the career they started in their country of origin. But many others keep fighting and with their strong inner drive, they achieve and show the best side of themselves, proud of who they are...


his is the impression I gained when I attended one of the events at the “Entrepreneurial Women’s Network”. It is the largest female meet-up in Europe and one of the UK’s top networking events, helping entrepreneurs to communicate effectively, and build strong relationships for business as well as personal life. While it is for all entrepreneurial women, I was pleasantly surprised to find and meet with so many migrants of different nationalities. Some had taken on very ambitious projects as entrepreneurs. It was an inspiring evening seeing so many women coming together to tell their successful stories and share their experiences with each other. The Entrepreneurial Women’s Network is led by a young woman who, after experiencing bullying and harassment at companies she worked at, along with a nervous breakdown and family issues, decided that it was time to make a big change in her life and to help other people. Svietlana overcame a lot of challenges, such as social anxiety and self-doubt, to now becoming recognised as an expert in business networking and a powerful connector of entrepreneurs both in the UK and internationally. This article features some of the amazing women I met there: Svietlana Lavrentidi from Russia; Aska Kolton from Poland; Marian Alonso from Spain; Vivienne Aiyela, African Heritage and British born; Mariana Lucía Marquez from Argentina, and Emma Zangs, from France.



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

Founder of “Entrepreneurial Women’s Network”

Svietlana Lavrentidi Role model is my mum Svietlana moved to London at the age of sixteen and started her journey by working at “Favorite Chicken & Ribs” 12-13 hour shifts at weekends. She then moved on to several coffee shops, doing dish-washing and waitressing, while trying to decide what to do with her life...


vietlana studied graphic design while working as receptionist but realised that it was not her passion and then qualified as an Accounts Technician. After working in accounts for about six years and having bad job experiences, the idea came to become an entrepreneur and build a business. It did not go as smoothly as expected and after several failed attempts Svietlana understood that she needed expert help. Svietlana decided to start working for Entrepreneurs in London and this happened to be the turning point she had been looking for. After just a few months of valuable experience and learning, she was acknowledged for her hard work and commitment by the Founder, who promoted her as co- organiser, saying that she is “The Natural Networker”.

You are the organiser of events bringing together successful women in London from different nationalities - what is your experience of this project?

I’ve been blessed with an incredible community of multi-national women. It’s been an amazing experience. The energy we usually have in the room is like no other event I’ve seen, our women are truly inspirational. They are all ready for big things in

their lives and it is a total delight to meet them on a regular basis. How did this initiative start?

I was helping at a different event and realised that I really loved it, but there was one issue... I had to deal with men, who were attracted to me and pretended being interested in doing business together. I ended up on a “date” a few times and then decided to start events for females as a safe place for female entrepreneurs and business owners. You are a young woman with a big drive - how do you achieve being successful at such a young age?

I simply made a decision. I reworked my aims and goals in life, got my long and short-term vision straight and then started taking small steps towards it. If there is a will, there’s also a way. Once you make a conscious decision and commit to it, everything else is just a matter of time. Who has been your role model in life?

The only person who was and is my role model is my mum. Since being very little I have always been hugely proud of being my mum’s daughter. To start with, she’s just a stunning woman, that always went for things she wanted, never seemed to be


scared of anyone or anything, and never afraid of challenges. I thank God for giving me the most inspirational Mother of all!

The only person who was and is my role model is my mum. Since being very little I have always been hugely proud of being my mum’s daughter. To start with, she’s just a stunning woman, that always went for things she wanted, never seemed to be scared of anyone or anything, and never afraid of challenges. I thank God for giving me the most inspirational Mother of all!

You are a migrant here and have a big network - how do you build it?

Networking is my expertise, that’s what I do. It started with the realisation that before building any type of business, I need a network or community that I can serve. I learned from others, implemented, tested other techniques out, and never looked back. I love our members and enjoy serving them. And they guide me, letting me know what their needs are. What is your aim of organising these events?

The aim is to bring together female entrepreneurs and business owners (in a safe environment) to network, learn, meet like-minded women for inspiration, possible business ventures, whatever it is that is missing for them... but this is only the beginning. The bigger vision is taking it globally, to help women worldwide to connect, and get them from point A to point B in their business. What makes you feel proud of yourself?

Every time when my mum says that she is proud of me, they’re the moments worth living for. To find out more, or book Svietlana Lavrentidi to speak at your event, please connect with her through any of these links. Facebook: Facebook page: https://www. Meetup: Twitter: LinkedIn:



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

A question for three entrepreneurial women living in London

What makes you feel you are an entrepreneur and what is your dream? Aska Kolton originally from Poland

“Passionate about happiness”


aving a strong vision and direction is important. I want to make a difference in the world and empower women to take responsibility for their own happiness. Also passion for what I stand for and for my business is crucial. I have strong faith in what I do and I stand for women who haven’t discovered their happiness yet. Especially single women who believe they will be happy when they are in a relationship and postpone their own happiness for years. Also for women who are in relationships but are not truly happy. I am passionate about happiness. It is our main drive in life and it is important to be happy, otherwise what is the point? There is also determination. When I arrived here 14 years ago I couldn’t speak English, had no contacts, confidence, or a plan, but I have always known deep in my heart that I could do better! This faith has helped me get through many difficulties. Today I am in a completely different place. I have everything that I need to be a change maker and I still believe I can do better and push myself further. My dream - I want women to feel free to go for anything they dream about in life! More about Aska you can find at:


Marian Alonso originally from Spain

“Belief in my ideas”


s a portrait and reportage photographer, I see myself as an entrepreneur in the sense that I’m someone who strongly believes in the product and service I provide. One of the main reasons I like to work for myself is the ability to set and deliver a product meeting to my own highly professional standards. Working within a company, as I had in the past, wore me out. I had to focus often on maximizing profits at the expense of quality. I strongly believe that people deserve good things in their life, and that makes me want to live my life my way. I believe in my ideas and abilities, and will defend the craft of photography with perseverance and dedication through my career. My future goals include working with high profile design agencies involved in exciting

jobs and have a big range of clients (editorial and commercial). I enjoy working on my own but also within a team as this opens possibilities, resources, and dialogue. But most of all, I want to do what I love, feel

Vivienne Aiyela African Heritage and British born

“Dream of being a successful businesswoman”


reativity and innovation has always been in me ever since I can recall. From an early age I watched my grandmother and mum with their knitting. I used to take the left-over wool and knit my dolls some clothes. Then I discovered the sewing machine and have not looked back. When it comes to fashion I dance to my own beat. I loved to read books (and still do) and used my vivid imagination to write stories in English class. I am a creator and able to pull a seemingly infinite number of ideas out of thin air and uncover solutions that have been explored. With a high level of openness, I am comfortable with variety and change, always open to new possibilities, and I respond well to fresh concepts and challenging tasks. Being like everyone else is not me. I thrive when I have the freedom to explore alternatives and my attention is naturally drawn to abstract ideas and the big picture. I am known for bending some rules and ignoring existing methods, and challenging

satisfied with what I attain, and within a context of other people doing the same. That’s powerful. More about Marian you can find at:

conventional approaches. Or spotting unconventional or unusual approaches to getting a job done, especially when the traditional path is blocked. My motto which I live by is ‘Different is the new normal’. Curious and interested in the new and different, if I haven’t experienced it before, I want to give it a try. My dream is to be a successful business woman and also get a pilot licence, which means learning to fly and something that I am looking into. I am passionate about helping to empower and support women and young girls as I truly believe that ‘no one is successful by themselves together’. As Beyoncé says, “Girls we run the world”. First impressions are lasting impressions and you never get another chance to make a first impression! More information at www. Contact Twitter: GoddessofGlam1 Pinterest: GoddessofGlamour Instagram: GoddessofGlamour1



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

Mariana Lucía Marquez & Emma Zangs We have “vision talk” Mariana Lucía Marquez (35), from Argentina, and Emma Zangs (25), from France are choreographers and movement coaches. They started working together during our MA Choreography at TrinityLaban Conservatoire in London and then incorporated Marquez&Zangs three years later


hey say that it was a natural progression, one project leading to the next and then realising that they were a great team and had fun working together. Registering the company was definitely a big step that came with responsibilities so they experienced it as a graduation of sorts: an exhilarating feeling combined with a “oh, lord, I’m a grown up now”. But it was certainly the right time to launch as they had already built a nice portfolio of works and had made some good contacts.

At the beginning, all people think they have a big idea and will succeed what makes you different? We are different in that we consider choreography exists outside of dance. Our work involves thinking up movementbased concepts to communicate all sorts of ideas (live or on film). As movement coaches we help performers (mainly singers and models) as well as entrepreneurs master their body language for effective communication. Unlike other coaches, we never tell people what to do but rather work along their natural movement preferences to achieve a polished and natural movement style. Do you have a time when you lose your motivation to continue? Whenever we lose motivation it’s because our vision needs some revising. Over and over again it turns out that we were trying to accomplish too big an objective. So we quickly have what we call a “vision talk”, re-define our objectives, and move on. What inspires you mostly? Our greatest inspiration comes from ideas that challenge pre-conceptions. We love all sorts of clever design that challenges the obvious, be it in fashion, print, architecture, objects, or theatre. What is the biggest challenge on your entrepreneurship? At the moment, our biggest business challenge is achieving sustainability. Even broader than that, our “life challenge” is to change the perception that contemporary dance is a form of high art only accessible to the elites.

Have you ever felt that being an immigrant has impacted your results and dreams? If anything, being a migrant has empowered us. Our diverse backgrounds allow us to think differently than the locals, giving us a creative edge. We manage to harness the incredible energy and power that come out of having to adapt to new challenges daily. We are forced to be very clear in order to be understood... especially with our thick accents :-)


What is your message to other migrant women who want to start their own business? Our most relevant piece of advice is to find a partner that complements your skills. We meet lots of solo entrepreneurs who find it very hard to stay afloat as they are faced with doing it all. We have very clearly defined areas of expertise and responsibility which allows us to complete tasks more swiftly and with virtually no friction.



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014


Are you enjoying the job of your dreams? “Time flies when you’re enjoying yourself” speaks for itself. And by the same token, it seems to drag badly if you are not engaged and fulfilled by your work at least most of the time, almost regardless how well paid it is. But that’s only the start… If you dislike or perhaps even hate what you do, before long you will take your misery home and compensate for your pain with unhealthy and expensive habits. The list of possible distractions is a long and often predictable one that can carry a high personal cost in terms of money, relationships or health.

Apply for a free session with Julian

Julian, a career coach, has helped a lot of people to follow their dreams. We invited him to share his experience with us and to offer an opportunity for our readers. Each month we will select one lucky letter and publish a summary about you, your life and your ambitions concerning work or business for Julian to explore in written advice of up to 300 words… To be considered for this feature, just email your story to

So it’s worth investing proper time to think about what you really want to do – and then to work with a good careers coach to help identify and win a role that really suits you. Before that, it may be useful to analyse your ideal occupation using three overlapping circles. I just Googled “Dream Job


Venn Diagram” and found a simple version of the model in Bud Caddell’s “How to be happy in business”

Who is Julian?

With a track record in sales, marketing, account management, bid-writing and business development, Julian Childs’ career to date has spanned financial services, advertising, self-employment, consultancy, charities, social enterprise, outplacement, career coaching & business schools. Along the way he’s created three business organisations, become a skilled connector, and developed an unusual reputation for forging opportunities simply by connecting interesting ideas and talented people.

Bud labels his three circles: a. What we do well – I call this “CAN DO” and you can use it to identify the activities you are capable of in terms of your talents, skills, qualifications, experience, expertise, contacts and location. This is a factual inventory of what you can do and does not distinguish between what you enjoy or dislike. b. What we want to do – This is my “WILL DO” circle: a place where you can identify the things that motivate you like your values, ethics, culture, personality, style, passions, ambition and responsibilities. Completed thoroughly, this list will offer powerful insights into what makes you unique in today’s competitive job market. c. What we can be paid to do – I regard this circle as your “FIT TO MARKET” and this is where you can explore the type


of organisation or role that could pay you to do what you really want to do. Once you have populated your three respective circles with the information described, consider the interesting overlaps between these circles. Bud Caddell has given these areas pithy titles - and it’s important now to think through what yours mean for you: • If you CAN DO something but don’t enjoy it, you won’t stay long… • If you want to do something but are not very good at it, you may get fired… • If you identify work you want to do and are good at but no-one is advertising to pay for it, then you must do it voluntarily — OR ALTERNATIVELY, MAYBE it’s an opportunity to create a niche selfemployed role for yourself - perhaps speculatively at first, or as part of a wider and more varied portfolio career. I hope this article has inspired you to think wider than previously about the work you do - and why. If you want help to build yourself a better diagram, get in touch.

what we do well

learn to monetize

what we want to do

learn to say no

learn to do this better

what we can be paid to do


MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

Coaching Sessions with

MIRELA SULA I provide weekly life coaching sessions to help you move from the place you are at, to the place you want to be. These sessions are based on the principles set out in “Don’t let your mind go” by Mirela Sula. I am highly experienced in providing coaching to people from different backgrounds and cultures, and assisting with particular challenges they encounter. What to expect during coaching? After an initial appointment at my office in Liverpool Street, London, there is no obligation to continue if you prefer not to. You and I can use the safe space to explore the particular concern of which you are considering coaching. I will discuss confidentiality with you and address any question you may have. You can see how you feel about working with me. You and I will be able to assess if my coaching practices are right for you. Qualifications After completing my Masters degree in counselling psychology at the University of Sheffield, I trained in Family Therapy

and Positive Psychotherapy. I am presently doing my PhD studies, at the School of Psychotherapy and Counselling Psychology, Regents University. I also have a deep knowledge and understanding of mindfulness. I have been working with adult individuals on a range of problems which include: • Relationships • Abuse • Stress and meaning in life • Self esteem • Personal development • Career The sessions help you to move beyond any challenges you are experiencing and develop your own inner brilliance, value and worth. Coaching Sessions I only work with a small number of clients at any one time to ensure individual attention and support. • Sessions take place weekly or fortnightly • Sessions may also be over the telephone or on Skype • Sessions are booked in blocks of 6 to ensure sustained improvement and commitment

For further information please contact: Mirela Sula E-mail:



Struggling with Cupid


I’m an ambitious and achieving young woman. I emigrated to the UK and London at the age of 22 and built my career from scratch. I’ve always been very determined and prioritised my work above everything. I’m now 30 and my boyfriend broke up with me after 5 years


Dear Polina, Reading your letter made me feel both a sense of empowerment and tenderness. Tenderness because I see a woman who clearly has loved her boyfriend very much, so much so that you have even questioned your own choices. Yet at the same time I feel you have a strong longing for fulfilment in your life, which is absolutely healthy and vital! Of course a balance is necessary, but I really appreciate your self-awareness: being a fulfilled individual is a strong requirement to be ready to start a relationship, which will ultimately help you to avoid accusations and resentment. Don’t be worried, you are not selfish and you haven’t done anything wrong. You are just ambitious and on the path to achieving your dreams! Indeed it’s also a matter of timing, some people might be ready sooner than others and I would suggest you explore this: ask yourself ‘where are you?’ Do you feel ready to commit to your boyfriend? Or is it that you don’t feel ready to commit to any relationships? I’m asking this because you say that you

because I didn’t want to move in with him just yet. He never focused on his career and doesn’t understand me. I think I love him but I’m wondering: Is it selfish to realise my personal ambitions before building a relationship as a couple? Have I done it all wrong? Polina

“think” that you love your boyfriend and I’m wondering what you are “feeling” for him: perhaps you haven’t moved in with him yet because you don’t feel that he is the right person for you? Of course these are only suggestions but if you become more aware of your feelings, this will lead you to know much more about yourself and your partner. This advice comes from my experience of working for a high calibre introduction agency, where every day I see successful women who struggle to find the right person. Many men still can’t deal with a powerful woman and it can result in them being competitive, not supportive, resentful and…frustrated! You should never feel like you need to compromise your own goals to be loved. Having a compatible attitude towards life and sharing similar goals are important aspects in a successful relationship. Perhaps you need someone more similar to you to feel acknowledged, appreciated and… to make the big step. You are a motivated and self-aware young woman and if you search a little deeper into yourself, I’m sure that you will find your way! Francesca



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

Anastasija Melnikova


My mission in life is to makepeople happy

Anastasija is the mother to her three-year-old son, Alexander and a founding partner and director of two London based businesses. She was born in Riga, Latvia and spent her childhood living with her parents in Libya where her father worked for several years...

After returning to Latvia and graduating from school, Anastasija progressed to higher education and received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Riga University and a bachelor’s degree in aviation engineering from Riga Aviation Institute. After that she worked on various projects in Moscow, Geneva, Paris, Dublin and Chicago, finally moving to London in 2006, where she worked and studied for a post-graduate diploma in marketing. Anastasija practices Yoga and Pilates, is interested in Oriental philosophies and recently attended special seminars on Lake Baikal in Russia and Nepal. You have travelled so much in the world is that a search for something?

I have travelled a lot since my childhood. Firstly with my parents, and then on my own. I was always interested in learning how other people live, what occupied their minds, what were their dreams. I wanted to find my own place in life. I lived in Africa, worked in America, studied and worked in Switzerland, France and Ireland. I travelled in Europe and Asia. I found many friends and like-minded people. I am very pleased with that and am grateful to everyone who I met on the way. The more people you meet, the better you understand that despite all the differences in

appearances, deep inside we are similar. We cry when we are hurt and laugh when we are happy. What is your experience of living in different places and do you have a favourite?

Having lived in different places I have learned that for me there are places that are great for a holiday but that would be difficult to live in. And there are places great to work and live in but where switching off would not be necessarily easy. It all depends on an individual and his or her needs. From my point of view, America is a great place for holidays and travel, same as France. Switzerland – and especially the French speaking part – is a great place to live in. It has a very positive energy, good climate and beautiful scenery. I even think that when I retire I will move to Switzerland where I will write my memoirs… What made you decide to come and live in London?

I came to London in 2006. At the time I worked in Riga with a company that was involved in various student exchange programmes with other countries, so that young people could learn different cultures, find friends and learn languages. One of the com-



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

panies we were in business partnership with, invited me to come to work in Britain and that’s how I found myself in London, a place I instantly fell in love with. What is the biggest challenge for a woman to migrate from one place to another?

I think that the biggest challenge for a woman to migrate from one place to another is in quickly understanding the expectation of a woman’s role and conduct in the new environment. This understanding helps you to assimilate smoothly into the new society, and with that to find your own standing and comfortable circles of business and social contacts. Knowledge of the local language, history and culture certainly help achieve that goal quicker. You are also an entrepreneur - how did you achieve so much in your life?

For several years I worked as an employee and at the same time studied for a degree in marketing and management. When I became a mother, that education came in rather handy. I wanted to spend more time with my baby son, watch him grow and develop. With a 9 to 5 work schedule that would have been difficult. So I figured out that working for myself would allow me to combine motherhood with work. Today I am a co-owner and a director of two companies – one is a publishing company, another is a business consultancy. I do my own planning for the day and spend as much time as needed with my boy. I can say that I became an entrepreneur thanks to my baby son. What is the key to your success?

I think that my key to success is in the ability to find positive aspects in any life situation. I also have a rule – never to leave for later what can be done now. Many years ago a complete stranger came up to me in the street and asked for help and we started talking. I still remember that conversation clearly as well as the sad look in her eyes. She told me then to look in the eyes of older people - not many of them look happy. I said that perhaps it was not easy to be happy when you are old. At first she stayed silent and then said that the majority of people will have desires and

dreams but do nothing to fulfil those, leaving specific actions ‘for later’. With some it is for the fear of change and others for mere laziness. For them this ‘later’ never comes. When people age, they look back and realise that dreams have remained dreams. Those dreams are still alive deep inside but the time needed to turn them into reality is almost gone. She said that if you wanted to look happy at any age, to never leave things for later. Since then I try to stick to that rule in my life: do everything on time and look at the world with happy eyes at any age. What has been your biggest support while following your dreams?

As far as I can remember, I was always a rather independent individual. Despite that, I think the biggest support in life is my father’s love. He was an extremely talented and a very decent person, strong, loyal and loving. His love and care gave me strength and courage to become what I am. He passed away 5 years ago but I still feel his support. I would love my son to be – even if a tiny bit – like my father. Do you think that your dreams are fulfilled?

I consider myself to be a lucky person,

most of my dreams and plans have come true, but life goes on! In the future, I would like to have more kids, and to write and publish a book. I would like to learn to live in harmony with myself and the world. I would like to continue my involvement with charities but on a bigger scale than now. I would like to travel to the North Pole and see Aurora. I still have plenty of dreams so will have to live long to make them all come true. What are the next projects that will keep you motivated?

Another beloved member of my family is a Jack Russell called Theodore. He was already three years old – all of them with us – when my son Alexander was born. Theodore and Alexander have the most reverent of relationships. Watching then together I feel an urge to write about it, so maybe this will be my next project. Have you discovered your mission in life? If yes, can you share it with us?

My father told me that when I was little – around 3 or 4 years old – I used to tell everyone that I was there to make people happy! Maybe this is my mission in life?!



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MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

Being a migrant in the real sense of the word is being a courageous soul, one that doesn’t pay attention to where s/he has been but to where s/he wants to go. To a migrant the origin is not important nor is the destination. All that matters is the journey of having new eyes and perceiving new realities

We Are All

migrants By Aura Imbarus, PhD


oving from one place to another defines you, according to dictionaries, as a migrant, while relocating from one country to another labels you as an immigrant. Many of our social issues are springing from the idea that being born in a certain country makes you different from someone else. The idea of space is defining humans, labeling them into categories related to Third World Countries, Western World, Eastern European Block, but, we don’t realize that the only one who wins this so-called location race is the ego. At the end of the day, we are Edging God Out of our souls, and instead of looking at our similarities, we are actually emphasizing our differences. Racism, prejudice, xenophobia, and chauvinism all are showing intolerance for the foreigners, but aren’t we all foreigners on this land, called Earth? We are all coming from nothing, from the Universal Mind, and no matter where we have been born and where we are moving, we are still the same. We take with us our feelings, our spirituality and, even if the external part might be different, we are just one. As there are many types and colors of M&Ms and all of them are considered sweets, there are also many races coming

from many far lands and all of them belong to the human genes pool. There are many varieties of apples from red to green, from sweet to sour, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Suncrisp, Yates, Fuji, Jazz, Arkansas Black, but aren’t they all fruits? I truly doubt that the Jonagold apple tree is looking down on Shizuka tree and labels it as a misfit, a foreigner, a traitor, a wanna-be, a terrorist just because it came from another part of the world and its “taste” is different. All these fruits shine brightly on the same rack, displayed at Trader’s Joe, Sprouts, Vons, Albertson, Ralphs’, Whole Foods stores. There is no envy, no backstabbing, mistrust or any sense of inferiority due to their origin of birth. Birds migrate, as well as humans do, due to seasons and availability of food; migration occurs mostly in the Northern Hemisphere where birds are shafted on to specific routes by natural barriers such as the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas. They use celestial cues, such as the earth’ magnetic field, the sun and the stars. But in this case as well, I disbelieve that migration among birds will be seen as something defamatory and will be ridiculed, bullied or mark with a scarlet letter. They all, in the race for continued existence, try their best to change, to adapt and to survive the intemperate weather, the new location’s con-

Aura Imbarus, PhD Clinical hypnotherapist, motivational speaker, and author of the Amazon best-seller - “Out of the Transylvania Night: A Story of Tyranny, Freedom, Love and Identity”


ditions, the availability of supplies. This world with all its living beings is constantly moving, stretching and transforming itself. The beauty of all of us comes from change, from the chameleonic attitude for survival. Humans cannot bath twice in the waters of the same river, and like Einstein said once whatever doesn’t change is not real. Being a migrant in the real sense of the word is being a courageous soul, one that doesn’t pay attention to where he has been but to where he wants to go. To a migrant the origin is not important nor is the destination. All that matters is the journey of having new eyes and perceiving new realities. The growth happens when tomorrow is not known, and the real migrant is always ready for a new conquering adventure for a new self-discovery path of his/her inner strength, attitude, joy and contentment. According to Einstein, “imagination

is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” All of us are migrants using our imagination, thinking that where we want to go will be much better than where we are right now. We hold tight to that conviction and march in the directions of our dreams, hoping and believing that that new country, that new land can be the one we really belong to. Nobody wants to be uprooted, but everybody wants to be happy. So, if happiness might be coming from the change in the environment, change in partners, types of food, sleeping habits, then humans display those survival skills to fulfill their destiny. “Here” or “there” is just a matter of finding yourself in your true color. “A journey of a thousand miles starts with one single step,” said Lao-Tzu, and that one step comes with courage, with the desire to be a migrant, to

be in motion and to tackle life, meeting it in an open arena. Migrants always know that after the rain, the rainbow will appear and with it the possibility of a new bright day. To be a migrant is the best label of all. You are open to learn, to see, and to taste the many flavors of “life apples” there are out there, even if some are sour ones. You are never stuck in that yesterday that is long time gone, and, more than that, you are tickled by life’s array of possibilities. It is never too late to march your migrant soul toward the uncharted territories of your own life and to be ready to accept that every day has the potential of a lifetime! No matter where we are coming from, no matter which country we belonged to for a while or forever, we are migrants, transcending time, space and emotions, surviving defeats and conquering new horizons, having faith that we are here to fulfill a secret mission called – Life.


MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014



rinka Bralo is a journalist from Sarajevo and has been involved with refugee and human rights since she was exiled in 1993. She is executive director of the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum in London. She served as a commissioner of the Independent Asylum Commission, the most comprehensive review of the UK protection system and is a winner of the 2011 Voices of Courage Award by the Women’s Refugee Commission in New York.

You started your career as a journalist in your country - what made you decide to migrate and choose London?

I fell in love with radio at the age of 16 and started working at Radio Sarajevo when I was 18 years old. I enjoyed every moment of it because of the great people I worked with and learned from. If I had a choice I would have never left. But I did not have a choice. I came to London as a refugee from a besieged Sarajevo at the end of 1993. I worked with international war correspondents and they persuaded me to leave and helped me to get out. I needed persuading as I did not realise to what extent my mental and physical health deteriorated, having been exposed to the horrors of war for more than 18 months. How do you remember the first year of migration?

I was lucky to escape, but I was heartbroken. I was very depressed and suffered from post-traumatic stress, but I had to survive and the only way I knew how to do that was to work. I started working with survivors of notorious camps in Northern Bosnia who were evacuated to Britain, and I got a scholarship from the Open Society Foundation to do an MSc at the London School of Economics. It was a tough time, but I kept myself busy. The best memory is the great people of London and Britain who welcomed me, and literally saved me and I am grateful that many of them are very dear friends to this day.

Zrinka Bralo Changing lives for the better Making things happen

What were the biggest challenges you faced at the beginning?

The list of challenges would not fit in a book! It was very difficult to make sense of a new place, this new life I was living, to plan for the future and to try and survive, while at same time I did not really want to be here. I watched the news all the time, fearful that I might recognise someone amongst the dead and the wounded on the streets of

Sarajevo, and then I had to go to work or to university and focus on the task at hand. The asylum system was also very scary, especially as I was refused asylum and had to campaign to stay. My mental health was deteriorating and despite all the support that I had, I felt like the loneliest person in the world. I worried I would run out of the strength to fight for survival. These are difficult memories for me.

Zrinka Bralo , Executive Director, Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum



What has been or would be the biggest success for you during this journey?

I know this may be difficult for people to relate to, but I am just happy to be alive and that life makes sense again. I graduated and was able to find work in a field that inspires me in a similar way as radio did in my early teens. Running a migrant and refugee organisation is a tough job, but I love it. London is my home now and I love it. I am still friends with all my friends from Sarajevo, although the majority of them live all over the world now. I feel that it is a success, that we did not give into nationalism and that the war did not destroy our love for each other. My work at The Forum is a success that I am proud of. We have helped thousands of people and contributed to positive change for individuals and society generally, which is all down to great team work. I am so lucky to have had a great team of colleagues over the years who were equally, if not more committed to help migrants and refugees integrate with dignity. What inspired you for the idea of leading a forum for migrants?

The Forum was set up in 1993, and I joined in 2001, at a very difficult time for the organisation, which in a way was a blessing as it was a challenge. I had the support of my Board and our members to implement changes and get us back on track. I was a refugee and that definitely helps in what I do, but my experience is just one persons’ story, and it is therefore important to continually listen to the experiences of all migrants and refugees and to respond to an ever changing environment. That was the main drive behind the Woman on the Move Awards for outstanding migrant and refugee community leaders in the UK. We heard so many stories of great leaders overcoming adversity and giving back to British society. We wanted to celebrate that and tell a story of positive contribution. I won the Voices of Courage Award in New York in 2011. That was such a great experience that as soon as I came back to London, I started plotting with my colleague Beth Crosland at The Forum on how to share that experience of recognition with the other amazing women we work with. Our colleagues and partners supported the idea and we already have eleven winners.

What would you say about the winners of this year’s awards, and is it going to be a tradition now?

This is the third year we celebrated migrant and refugee women at the Royal Festival Hall, and although funding is always an issue, we are very grateful to be part of Women of the World Festival and we all love it so much that we will work hard to make sure it happens again. This year UNHCR joined MRN and The Forum in organising the Awards and that partnership is great. So yes, I hope it will continue and grow from strength to strength. This year we had three amazing winners. The Woman of the Year is Lillian Seenoi who is working hard to help integration of migrants and refugees in Northern Ireland. Tatiana Garavito only 27, is Young Woman of the Year and already heading Latin American Women’s Rights Service. This year we had Special Jury Award which went to Diana Nammi an amazing campaigner against honour killings, and the head of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation. All three are brilliant role models, feminists and activists and Britain needs to know about them and be proud of their spirit and achievements. I must also say that this year, as indeed every year, the Jury had a very difficult job of picking just three winners, as we had so many amazing women nominated from all over the country. I would like to send a message to your readers to please continue to nominate women and help us celebrate these heroines. We also launched The Champion award which was given to the AIRE Centre, which for twenty years has helped ensure that individuals and families benefit from the rights they are entitled to under European law. The ceremony also celebrated outstanding media coverage of the protection needs of refugee and migrant women. This year the Media Award (Print) went to A.A. Gill for his series of articles on refugees in DRC, Jordan and Lampedusa published in The Sunday Times Magazine. Speaking at the ceremony, AA Gill said: “In Congo, I realised a truth I’ve known all my life. Whilst women are often victims, they are also often the catalyst for making things better.” The Media Award (Broadcast) recognised Sue LloydRoberts for her BBC Newsnight film on women fleeing female genital mutilation. Special recognition was given to the Evening Standard, for its consistent reporting and campaigning work on female genital mutilation.

Running a migrant and refugee organisation is a tough job, but I love it. London is my home now and I love it

Can we know more about your private life? Who is Zrinka outside of work and what do you do in your free time?

I am afraid my personal life is rather boring, I don’t have any exciting hobbies and don’t do extreme sports. I like to read, several books at the same time. I love music and enjoy live performances. I travel a lot. As my friends and family are scattered around the world, I make an effort to spend as much of my free time in the company of people I love. I miss having animals so I am planning to volunteer for animal shelter next year. Who are the most important people that surround you?

I am surrounded by amazing friends and great family and have the best colleagues in the world. And so many of them! What is your mission in life?

To live my life with dignity, and respect for myself and others around me.



MIGRANT WOMAN #2 may 2014

Can your Intuition Help you as a Migrant Woman in the UK Today? By Sarah Alexander

I believe the most important resource that you can use to help you with every aspect of your life is within you. It is an accurate, free-to-use guidance system that can provide information for you about anything you wish to know or answer every decision you need to take. It actually gives you this information all the time, whether you listen to it or not. It is called your intuition. I also believe that we are all naturally



intuitive. We all intuitively know exactly what we should do in our lives, but often we don’t act on that knowing. We usually prefer to follow the reasoning and logic of our rational mind rather than let go of it and listen instead to our intuition. We do need logic to help us function practically, but we should use it as partner to our intuition, not as major dominator of all our decisions. Intuition is any information,

Be clear about what you want guidance on

State your intention about the guidance you need and then let it go. The key to hearing the answer easily is having unwavering knowledge that you will receive the guidance you need. Answers will flow in such an easy, natural way that you may often think you’re simply making it up. Deep in your gut, though, you will know intuitively and undeniably that your much-needed guidance has arrived. People often expect answers to arrive in a flash of lightning and an immediate solving of a problem when they ask for help with specifics. Although instantaneous solutions can indeed happen, the desired outcome is usually reached by a series of intuitive messages that take us on a step-by-step path. Something you can and should expect is repetition. This is a defining characteristic of intuitive guidance: we hear it repeated over and over again until we listen and act upon it. Our intuition works best for us when we are relaxed, open and receptive. If you try to hear your inner guidance, your effort actually diminishes your ability to do so. Conscious efforts through striving and trying make us tense and take us out of the receptive state needed to hear intuitive guidance.

Sarah Alexander runs 8 week transformational programmes for business owners worldwide and uses Spiritual Intelligence to help them to make the most of their life’s work. She is the author of ‘Spiritual Intelligence in Business: The Eight Pillars of 21st Century Business Success’ and ‘Spiritual intelligence in Leadership: From Manager to Leader in Your Own Life’.

knowledge or insight that comes from within, without logical thinking or conscious reasoning. Its language comprises gut feelings and “hunches”, and an overall feeling of “rightness” as the ultimate radar, clearly indicating what images, whispers and “pop-up” ideas are true guidance and what are not. This is important, because intuitive guidance can come in several different ways.




Understand How Your Intuition Comes To You

Our intuition comes to us through four main avenues. We are all able to receive messages in each of these ways, but often we favour particular ones depending on how our minds habitually process information. • Visual guidance comes through mental images, both in your mind’s eye and in the world around you. Visual guidance may also come as things we are drawn to, or which seem to leap out to grab our attention: a sign, slogan, newspaper headline, book, or magazine, bought on impulse. As your attention is drawn to these things, you have a strong “gut feeling” that this is the guidance you need.

• Auditory messages come from the still, quiet voice within, as well as in messages you are specifically meant to hear from the world around you. Hearing the whisper of your internal voice means that you have attained the quietness of mind necessary for this to happen. More often, you will pick up auditory messages by overhearing conversations, by receiving guidance (requested or not!) from other people, or even by hearing yourself give “guidance” to others. Turning on the television or radio often results in your hearing something that was “meant” for your ears. These messages, like the visual ones, will be accompanied by that intuitive feeling of correctness. • Guidance from your feelings is the ability to feel your intuitive messages through your body and emotions. People who are very oriented to their feelings can easily pick up what others feel: they can sense the mood in a room and the


Quiet Time!

Your mind wants to be active all the time, leaping from one thought to another in a way that is completely predictable. To receive your intuitive guidance, you will need to take some time every day at least to relax and quieten, and preferably to meditate. This means going to a place where you can be undisturbed for at least ten minutes, preferably 20 – 30 minutes. There, you can allow your body to relax and let go of tension by focusing on your breath. People who meditate daily are able to receive guidance more easily because they are used to quietening and stilling their minds. It doesn’t matter what form of meditation you use as long as you are stilling your mind in some way. Ask for your guidance during these quiet times. If you need immediate guidance, ask your question and see what comes to you there and then. You will receive an answer, although you may need some time to recognise it.


intrinsic energy of a place. If you sense in this way, you will always receive guidance through those aptly named gut feelings. Your feelings about something are literally your answers to your questions about it. Excitement and passion will draw us towards people and activities that are meant for us; feelings of heaviness and constriction will warn us about those that are not. • Guidance through your thoughts and ideas is the ability to receive answers directly into your mind that just come “out of the blue”. We don’t even know how we know these kinds of things. This guidance will come to you at exactly the right time for you to take action. If you act upon it you will then receive further guidance, at the right time, to take further steps towards your intention. All the intuitive guidance you receive in this way will be empowering. You will just know that it is something you have to do. When you take the recommended steps, it always feels right and you know intuitively that you are acting in alignment with your inner guidance.



Trust and Act Upon Your Guidance

This is perhaps the most important step. Your trust in the guidance you receive is key to your success in creating your desired outcome. If you are unsure of what messages you are receiving in response to a certain question, ask for three clear signs that show you exactly what you are to do. Then, act upon them! All it takes to develop your intuitive guidance is the willingness to listen, willingness to trust what you are given, and a willingness to act upon the information you receive. This means that you are ultimately responsible for successful outcomes and the ability to achieve them lies in your willingness to trust, listen and act.



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erea Carrión Sanchis was born in the industrial port city of Valencia, Spain in 1986. She and her brother were raised by their mother, often under dire financial constraints. Her mother instilled her with a strong moral ethic and pride, coupled with the desire not only to survive, but also to thrive and overcome adversity. Travelling through India, South America and Europe widened her experience of life and social horizons, making an impact on her need to understand the human condition and the limitations so many people place on themselves, more fully. In her early life she presented a shy, insecure figure of a girl, a far cry from the woman I am sitting with now. Nerea has already enjoyed a successful career as a model, actor, presenter, counsellor in neuro-linguistic programming and founder of the “Smiles For The World” initiative, and an endless list of impossibly positive projects. I wanted to know what motivates her to work on the numerous humanistic projects she has spearheaded. “People are my passion,” she says. “Every person is a new and interesting world and to learn from this is beautiful.” Here she offers me an insight into her own personal history. This background has spurred her to work with others to understand what prevents them from living their life fully and to remedy this with practical solutions. The “Just Smile” card, which she hands out to unwary commuters, deep in their own cognitive process, as she travels the London public transport system is just one project spearheaded by the enigmatic Nerea Sanchis, who wants to bring her own brand of happiness and positivity to the world. “What better place to start than the London underground?” she says. “It’s easy to sink into the grind and daily toil of commuting in a large city, travelling endlessly to unfulfilling jobs, in bad or no relationships and all that living in a metropolis entails”. The project is supported by a catchy song (first recorded to encourage her colleagues in the financial sector to embrace her positive ethos at work), which the multitalented Sanchis sings, accompanied by a montage

Nerea Carrión Be happy,positive, and smile “Just smile and pass this card on”, says the colourful business card handed to me by Nerea Carrión Sanchis, a smiling young woman as I walk into a coffee shop near Liverpool Street station By Robert Lapworth

of images from her modelling career. The project is also illustrated with a professional animation extolling the virtues of finding happiness in the mundane daily commute at 7am on London’s transport circuit, whilst the website www.smilesfortheworld. com encourages you to order for free your own “Just Smile” cards to pass the message of happiness on and is packed with facts about endorphins and the health benefits of

smiling, attractiveness and much more besides. You begin to see that Nerea Sanchis doesn’t do things by halves. Speaking in softly lilted Spanish tones, she cites this early childhood experience and the strength and courage of her mother, as motivating factors. She tells me that this was a fundamental experience, indelibly shaping the way she thinks now and a major factor on her psyche today. The effort she has put into being positive, the decision to have a happy life, these are things she wants to let other people know they can have, if only they make that small decision to have them, to give themselves permission to be happy. Nerea’s passion is ultimately the people she works with, the endless possibilities available to those willing to cross that threshold and the ability to show ways to set them free from social constraint and limitation, to get to the route cause of what is stopping an individual from crossing their own comfort zone and learning about their own limitless possibilities. After finishing her last year of economics study at university in Gdansk, she pursued her life long dream and moved to London in 2009, taking an internship as an accountant at the estate agency Humphrey & Co Estates. This led to working in the financial sector, where Nerea first began to


see the effects of work-based stress symptoms. With boundless energy, she took it upon herself to look at ways to make the workplace for both employee and client a more fulfilling environment, making it her aim to bring her own brand of fulfilment. Taking a position at Tullett Prebon, it was here she put into practice the skills that she had previously gained in Spain as

an events host, and capitalised on her social skills and positive attitude, by entertaining clients, organising events-led experiences and enriching the total customer experience. The road to this point was not an easy one and necessarily required that she remained busy and gainfully employed to survive, drawing on her life skills from her

childhood in Valencia. In 2012, Nerea was offered the opportunity to join the ranks of the London fashion modelling elite, accepting assignments for London Fashion Week, including a campaign for “Roncatto Luggage Campaign”. She tells me, the modelling work presented one of her greatest obstacles to overcome. The confidence required to “sell” herself as a “product”, was one of the most difficult challenges she had to face and possibly a hurdle where many models fall. But with a strong survival ethic and positive attitude, primal instinct kicked in and she successfully turned obstacles into opportunities. She continues her modelling career now with resounding success. Creator of the “The Happy World Company”, Nerea’s aim is to create an infectious chain of positivity, helping others find their passions and values. And to make realistic personalised plans to ensure they reach their own goals of success and happiness, through motivational workshops on a whole range of topics. The driving point is to take control of your life and make it a happy, positive and fruitful one, a life where you make the decisions. Not one to be typecast, Nerea thrives on new challenges. While others advise her to concentrate on one single project or topic, Nerea shuns this in favour of multiple projects, encouraging others to engage in her own infectious brand of positivity and unlimited possibilities which she asserts we all have. Following her many years experience of working with and coaching her colleagues, right from her days in the financial sector, she has recently graduated as a certified counsellor in neuro-linguistic programming. This is a branch of psychology which helps manage thoughts, behaviours and ultimately the outcome of our actions. It is this very quality that emanates from her very presence, making the hurly-burly of a city coffee shop an altogether serene place to be. So remember, a frown is a smile turned upside down. Smiling is proven to be good for your health. Do something beautifully reckless and positive that will make your and someone else’s day all that more enjoyable…just smile at them



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Ana Filipovska How meditation has changed my life

Ana is a young girl from Macedonia but life has booked so many tickets for her to travel in different countries of the world. Being a very spiritual person she has always followed her inner guide while she learnt the first steps. We talk to Ana for this interview at a very important stage of her life - she just has found her love. Thomas, her fiancÊ, is from Norway and her life is now going to be even more blended between two cultures. Ana is an architect but meditation has guided her to a new path of exploration – she wanted to be a teacher of Transcendental Meditation and this became a mission of her life. It is a long journey, which has just has started for her


ou have travelled in different countries - what have you learned from this journey?

I was fortunate to have the chance to travel to many countries and experience the flavor and richness of many different cultures. When I went to my Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Course in Thailand, I got to know people from different countries in Africa and Asia. Despite the differences in culture and religion, I noticed that below the surface of differences there is a fundamental basis which is the same. We have the same desire for growth in life, to connect with others and to be appreciated. The more we experience these similarities the more we appreciate and love others. Which country would be your favourite?

In every country that I have visited I have found loving and caring people who


have showed me great hospitality. After I became a TM teacher I feel very much at home in myself. So when I travel I feel at home in every country and enjoy the qualities of that country even more. Do you think that meditation has impacted your lifestyle?

Absolutely. Life is always progressive for everyone but when one starts Transcendental Meditation this progress goes much faster. I became more refined and aware of the influences on my body and mind. That helped me to spontaneously live more in tune with nature. How did you start meditation - what made you follow this path?

I was fortunate to be born in a family of meditators and my mother introduced me to Transcendental Meditation at a very early age. The experience of the deep inner silence and more flow in daily life made me think that everyone should have this. How do you remember the beginning of this journey?

I always had a desire to make an impact in the world and for a while I thought that I could make a change through architecture, which led me to finish a degree in architecture. After having worked as an architect for a while the deep desire to make a positive change in people and the society from the deepest level of nature, the unified field, became more dominant and it was clear for me what to do. Now my plan is to integrate the technical knowledge that I have with the principles of Vedic Architecture (Architecture in accord with Natural Law) to produce a strong effect of harmony in society.

You recently said publicly that you have found your love. Do you think that love and meditation have a connection?

When we do Transcendental Meditation we develop the qualities of our heart and our ability to love grows. Every relationship is based on giving and we can only give from what we have. When our heart is overflowing with love, this spreads to our environment and we experience more and more positive influences from the people around us. What is your love story?

For a while I was single and happy but at

some point I noticed a deeper desire to find my soul-mate. I had been friends with Thomas for 3 years and spontaneously during the last 6 months I grew closer and closer to him in a very natural manner. You are from Macedonia and Thomas is from Norway. Where is the place that you feel that you could live happily together?

I feel that there is a reason why I was born in Macedonia. The more I have matured, this reason became clear – that I have a duty for my country to raise the collective consciousness. I also have a duty as a woman to have my own family. Before I met Thomas I could live in Macedonia because it is a beautiful country and the people are very warm and loving. The country is in development so there is a huge opportunity to contribute to the growth and change. Now that I am in a union of love with Thomas, things have changed and we are starting to structure our lives so that we can see each other as much as possible. Thomas is also a TM teacher and has flexibility in his work. For the near future I am working on a structure in Macedonia, and making sure that the growth of consciousness and care for the people will continue, even without me being present in the country all the time. In the long term we plan to live together in an abundance of love and stability and we have decided that the best thing is to do that in Norway.

Benefits of meditation?

When we are doing TM our EEG (measurement of brainwave coherence) is rising, which means that we are using more of our latent parts of the brain. Afterwards when we are going out into activity we are more creative, efficient and our IQ is rising. We perform better at work and we have greater appreciation of others. The profound rest that TM is giving is reversing the aging process. One study shows that TM practitioners over 35 years that had been meditating for more than 5 years, have a biological age that is 12 years younger than the chronological age. TM is the most efficient stress buster which helps to maintain good health. These are only a few of the many benefits we can have from TM and if a person starts TM and gains only 10 % of the benefits that we see, then it is already a lot. The good news is that the benefits from practicing TM are cumulative with time.



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YOGA means union of the individual soul with the universal soul, an abstract notion perhaps which can be easily misunderstood. In other words, the science of yoga is there to help us treat our body as a divine vehicle, so that both mind and body become vibrant and are drawn towards a spiritual path or path of one’s soul journey and freedom. Emotional healing, flexibility, peace and calm can be considered as beneficial side-effects of yoga By Jasmina Paul

Asana – Physical Practice, Meditation or Both?

In the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali (compilation of yoga wisdom), asana (posture or seat) is defined as “sthira-sukham-āsanam”. This means that if we want to experience the full benefits of yoga practice, it is recommended to be comfortable in asana and practice with strength and meditative awareness. In the West, we had forgotten about meditative aspect of asanas and yoga is mainly used as a physical tool. However, research shows that meditation shifts brainwaves to calmer and happier states. At Harvard University, Prof. George uses meditation to train self-aware

and conscious leaders. Meditation is the oldest known training for the mind. It can have many purposes but in a nutshell it is an experiential, technical exercise targeted at developing compassion, love, patience, generosity, forgiveness and more far-reaching goals such as effortless and sustained concentration. The thing is, if you don’t train your mind to stay fit and healthy, the mind will tend to be overreactive and filled with unnecessary chatter. As a result, we tend to experience deep emotional pain, anxieties and addictions. It is very important to delete junk from our system and let go of redundant limiting beliefs, if we want to live lives full of energy and joy.

Yoga and Self-Development

One proven way to overcome our limiting beliefs is through a process of selfdiscovery, which gives us access to deeper parts of ourselves and enables growth and real integration. In my experience, yoga as a form of physical and meditative practice has remarkable results in shifting our perspective, healing the past and opening to new possibilities. Just like our bodies need a workout for physical fitness and well being, our brains have to be trained too in order to be fit, healthy, able to deal with stress, life’s challenges, and the ‘rollercoaster ride’


of emotions. Our focus has to shift towards learning to love, accept and honour ourselves, cultivating different skills to release the inner critic and blame, and creating from harmony rather than conflict. So, how does emotional healing actually happen when practicing yoga? Our blockages and limiting beliefs happen on a feeling (body) level as a projection of suppressed energy held in the subconscious. Yoga can assist with awakening self-acceptance and deep self-love, being “in the moment” with the experience. In brief, we could transcend any negative (or positive) experience by using these 3 steps in asana:

1) Bodywork – calming your mind to feel whatever comes up in your body, such as tightness in your hamstrings, stress in your shoulders, or judgmental thoughts in your mind. Here you are allowing your intuition and body wisdom to help you become aware of your body sensations and feelings. Very often yoga brings to the surface suppressed anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety, or any other “negative” feelings to be cleared from our chitta (memory storage). Choose to accept whatever feeling or thought might come up, e.g. accept pain in your shoulders or the feeling of being stressed out. Realise that pain is created in rejection of uncomfortable feelings.

2) Surrender – dissolving the energy of our experience by surrendering to asana or something bigger than our egos. With deep breath, release experience and energy into the ground. Catharsis and emotional healing happen at this level, without conscious control. Pain can be released from our bodies and we can transcend our addictions, stress and anxieties. The healing process can be instantaneous, or it can take a few months or even years to clear all blockages that hold us back. This really depends on you, and your desire and readiness to shift perspectives. I have witnessed that life can change quickly if you allow it. 3) Energise – we are shifting our vibe with



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You can follow an example of a healing process here:

Experience New energy Stiff body Increased pain Release increased pain Increased frustration Release increased frustration Anger Release anger Sadness Release sadness Feeling blank or confused Deep sorrow Chest pain Release chest pain Open heart and new level of self- love Feeling scared of being selfish Judgments and inner criticism Tremor, migraine, lack of self- respect Addictions Impaired kidney function Fear Releasing judgments and inner criticism Expanded energy field

an aim to remove old energy and heal our bodies. Our thoughts and emotions are just energy. Our bodies and energies are meant to be moving. When you experience new energy in your body, let it flow and observe it without attachment. Our Personal Energetic Frequency

When we get stuck in old patterns, we are actually stuck in our old limiting beliefs imposed on us by our parents and society. We are not allowing our energy to change, increase our vibration and manifest our goals. In fact, your personal energy frequency might be one thing that is preventing you from achieving the life you desire. In a nutshell, if your mind is focused on your problems, on what’s not working - if you spend time feeling bad about yourself, about your life, and angry towards others - then what you’ll attract will be in alignment with those thoughts and feelings. Stepping into the “now” can instantly dissolve negativity and raise your vibration so you only attract what you desire most. Yoga can assist us to stay present and develop our inherent skill to have power over our choices, release blame and take responsibility for whatever is happening in our life. Yoga as a way of life can reflect back to you all your dreams, aspirations and the inevitable resistances that we all have, which can block us from achieving these if we don’t become aware of them and work to let go of them. Ultimately you’ll have to make the choice and take the action to make empowering changes in your life. Is there an action that you would like to make right NOW and shift your energy to align with your goals?

Who is Jasmina? Jasmina Paul is the founder of Mind & Body Balance London, UK, running corporate and individual yoga/pilates and coaching classes to help you increase your vibration and attract your heart’s desires. You can learn more about these services by visiting this website: www.


Dr. Rozina Thaci

PsychD, CPsychol, BSc, HPC, BABCP Member

My practice ( is a London based (Harley Street and Liverpool street) psychological practice offering modern, effective solutions to psychological difficulties. I offer a collaborative service, working with individuals, couples, families, children and corporate clients, helping you to find lasting solutions tailored to your needs. I have experience working in the NHS, voluntary organisations and my private practice. The knowledge gained from this provides me with the appropriate skills to deal with a wide variety of issues. Whether you are struggling with depression, anxiety, abuse, trauma or relationship problems, I can offer you the support you need. I am specialised in solution focused, time-limited approaches that are efficient, effective and economical.

I am also able to offer a more traditional long-term therapy for those who may need this approach to work on longstanding problems. I do offer intensive treatment sessions (10 sessions on 2 weeks and 2 follow up) for those that would like to focus on PTSD, OCD, or any other specific anxiety symptoms. There is a lot of research evidence that suggest the efficacy of intensive treatment. If you are looking for a warm and understanding professional to help you improve your life and achieve your goals, contact me via email/ telephone. I will then arrange your free 15 minute telephone pre-assessment. I look forward to meeting you.

Telephone: 07947393745

Dr Rozina Thaci Chartered Counselling Psychologist



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Women and Science A journey through the history of science in women’s shoes By Mirella Orsi


he science world seems to be a world more for men than for women. In fact, if you look only at the Nobel Prize list, you can see that the number of women that have been awarded this prize in science fields from 1901 are just 16 on 876 Nobel laureates. However, there are only four people that have honoured twice and one of them is a woman, Marie Curie. So, it’s clear that this has always been a hard world for women. Despite that, their contribution in the research and development is massive. In fact, there is a very long term relationship between woman and science. It was 400 AD when Hypatia, the daughter of the mathematician Theon Alexandricus was educated in Athens and becomes one of the earliest mothers of mathematics and she was also a philosopher and an astronomer. She was murdered by a Christian mob after being accused of exacerbating a conflict between two prominent figures in Alexandria: the governor Orestes and the Bishop of Alexandria. After the Hypatia murder, an American literary critic said that it “effectively marked the downfall of Alexandrian intellectual life”. For this reason, it is impossible to write about every clever pioneering female scientist and we can only try to give some examples of them to celebrate the work of everyone. I like to begin with one of the most amazing

Hypatia (around 400 ad)

scientists of the history of science Marie Curiee. Marie Skłodowska-Curie (1867-1934) was a Polish and naturalized-French and she was both a physicist and a chemist. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the only woman to win twice and the only person to win in multiple sciences. Her research about the radioactivity gave to science a theory of radioactivity, the techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two elements, polonium and radium. Marie Curie never lost her sense of Polish identity. In fact, she named the first chemical element: polonium recalls her native country. In additions, she directed the world’s first studies into the treatment of neoplasms, using radioactive isotopes. As this great woman said “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less”. Elizabeth Blackwell (1821 – 1910), was born in Bristol (England) but she moved with her family to America in 1830. She was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. She was a pioneer in promoting the education of women in medicine in the United States and England, where with her contribution to the London

Augusta Ada King (1815 – 1852)

School of Medicine for Women was opened in 1874. She said “if society will not admit of woman’s free development, then society must be remodelled” Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (1815 – 1852) is the name as now commonly known Augusta Ada Byron, the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron. She was an English mathematician and writer chiefly


known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. Because of this, she is often described as the world’s first computer programmer. This is one of the most remarkable examples of a woman in science for the buffs. In fact, in her honour there is the yearly Ada Lovelac day that is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).” I am never really satisfied that I under-

stand anything; because, understand it well as I may, my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand about the many connections and relations which occur to me, how the matter in question was first thought of or arrived at, etc., etc.” – Ada Lovelace. Rosalind Elsie Franklin (1920 – 1958) was a British biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer. She is one of the many examples of a major female scientist that is underestimated from the academic world. She gave critical contributions to the understanding of the fine molecular structures of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA, viruses, coal, and graphite. The DNA work is one of her most famous achievements and her work on the X-ray dif-

Rosalind Elsie Franklin (1920 – 1958)

Marie Curie (1867-1934)

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821 – 1910)



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fraction images of DNA, which led to the discovery of the DNA double helix. Despite her essential work for the DNA double helix identification, this discovery has been attributed only to Watson and Crick for which they were awarded the Nobel prize in 1961. After finishing her portion of the work on DNA, Franklin led pioneering work on the tobacco mosaic virus and the polio virus. She once said that “creativity is intelligence having fun”. Rosalind Franklin died in 1958 at the age of 37 from ovarian cancer. Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909 – 2012) was an Italian Jewish neurologist who, together with colleague Stanley Cohen, received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of nerve growth factor (NGF). In the late 1930s Mussolini imposed the racial laws which forced so many Jews, including Levi-Montalcini, to leave universities and go into hiding. She had to quit the university and conduct research in an improvised laboratory in her bedroom at home. The food was so scarce, she said, that after experimenting on chicken embryos, she would cook and eat the remaining yolks. Yet being the clever woman as she was, she said “Above all, don’t fear difficult moments because the best always comes from them!! I should thank Mussolini for having declared me part of an inferior race. This led me to the joys of working, no longer at a university, but in a bedroom”. In 1992, Rite Levi-Montalcini opened, with her sister, a foundation that is committed to the education of African girls and young women, based on the strong belief that women play a key role in the future of the African continent. She said “I tell young people: Do not think of yourself, think of others. Think of the future that awaits you, think about what you can do and do not fear anything”. In conclusion, this article can only give some examples about the main contributions of women in science but there is much more that could be added. As I write this, thousands of women are working in their laboratory in every corner of the world. Irrespective of their religion, nationality and cultural background, they all work together for the next scientific steps forward. Isaac Asimov said:” There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere” and this light has no gender or race.

Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909 – 2012)




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