To successfully "build back better" after the coronavirus requires working with and through the regions and nations of the UK. In England, decision-making around lockdown - and now the exiting of lockdown - has been very centralised. This event hosted in partnership with West Midlands Women's Voice considered whether local government and Combined Authorities should have a greater role in lockdown decisions and how they can influence the need to build back better. 
The event explored how women in the regions can be better included in national debate. Watch this now to hear directly from women on what comes next - with exclusive data on the experiences of women in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester - and to encourage policymakers to act now to level up. It's time for a reset. 

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society


Sam joined Fawcett in August 2015 as Chief Executive. Prior to Fawcett, she was the Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus for over six years. Sam is no stranger to equalities and gender issues having worked for both the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. She also served as a Fawcett trustee between 2007 and 2010, was a trustee of Gingerbread for seven years and has nine years’ experience working in Parliament. Sam is passionate about equal representation, valuing and sharing care and closing the gender pay gap.


A multi-award winning journalist, Aasma is based in Preston, Lancashire, working for HuffPost UK. Her work brings in a perspective and views from outside the London bubble to the national news agenda. Aasma specialises in investigations and original stories with a human interest focus and wants to ensure people from all diversities of life have the chance to make their voices heard and to highlight inequalities and injustices they may be facing. She has a particular interest in real life and health related stories and telling the tales of those battling poverty and trapped on the margins of society, as well as those who have stories of inspiration and hope. She also likes spending time on the frontline at organisations to portray the reality of important issues. Aasma has more than 20 years experience as a journalist. She previously led the JPIMedia Investigations Team and was a Lifestyle Editor, Investigative Reporter and columnist. 


Deborah became Chief Executive of the WMCA in September 2017, following over 30 years’ in public services. Previous senior roles included Head of Policy at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and Local Government Advisor to the Ministerial Team at the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions. Following roles as the Audit Commission's Best Value Service Lead Inspector for the London region and Chief Executive for St Edmundsbury Borough Council and the East of England Development Agency, Deborah was Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council from 2011 to 2017.


Pam is also Greater Manchester’s Lead Chief Executive for ‘Age Friendly Greater Manchester’ and a key driver of the Greater Manchester Women and Girl’s Equality panel. The panel’s aim is to accelerate gender equality across Greater Manchester’s ten boroughs to enable women and girls to live their best lives through equal opportunities - to start well, live well and age well. Whether working in Stockport or across Greater Manchester, Pam is passionate about building strong teams, which have residents at the heart of everything the council does. A key driver for Pam is for residents of any age to embrace new ways to seek advice, guidance and support from the council. 


Chris joined Savanta ComRes (formerly ComRes) in February 2019 as the Head of Political Research. He works closely with media, think tanks, trade unions, campaign organisations, and political parties on a wide range of communication and policy-focused research topics, often conducting research among hard-to-reach and vulnerable groups, as well as within smaller, niche geographies and regions. Prior to Savanta ComRes, Chris worked as a Data Visualisation and Statistical Specialist in the House of Commons, and was Head of Political Research at Survation when they were the most accurate pollster of the 2017 General Election.


Hailing from Birmingham, Namywa is an international recording artist, performer and songwriter speaking truth to power, with a fearless lyrical approach to subjects that mean a lot to her. Deeply passionate about raising the profile of BAME women and girls across the West Midlands, she hopes to build a change movement through Namywa Change Formation, her music and story - to be a part of systemic change for all people in a meaningful way. Namywa’s music is inspired by artists like Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott and Laura Muvla. Emerging from the early years of her artist and songwriting career, Namywa has been supported by Help Musicians UK and PRSF International Showcase fund for touring across venues and festivals around the UK and in Europe. Early 2020 saw Namywa sign her first single 'Acid Glow' as a writer-artist to Sony Music Library and sync to official Love Island USA Playlist.

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