International Women’s Day 2020: 5 Trailblazing Women Leading The Way

The legal sector and the commercial world have not historically been welcoming of women, and the fight to be given a seat on the table is far from over. Here are five women to watch in 2020 who are working to transform the sectors in which law operates.

  • Last updated Mar 3, 2020 12:20:17 PM
  • Elizabeth Hurst
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Nadia Whittome, Britain’s youngest MP

Most 23-year-olds spend their time finding their feet in the world of work. It just so happens that Nadia Whittome’s feet happen to be walking down the hallowed halls of Parliament. 

Nadia was just 23 when she was elected as Labour MP for Nottingham East in the 2019 General Election, making her Britain’s current youngest MP—also known as “baby of the house”. She has already been making waves in the House of Commons. In her maiden speech, she said that she does not feel welcome there as a “working-class woman of colour” and that "old conventions and antiquated language" were to blame.

She also will only take a wage of £35,000 (after-tax) and donate the remainder of her MP’s salary of £79,468 to charities. She explained her decision, saying "of course MPs do an important job. But care workers, like I was proud to be before I became an MP, also do an extremely important job… when care workers, retail workers, and NHS staff get their pay rise, I'll take mine."

Natalie Carter, diversity in law champion

Natalie is a commercial real estate associate solicitor at international US firm Greenberg Traurig, where she works on high-profile commercial real estate transactions in London. She studied Anthropology and Law at the London School of Economics and is passionate about actively improving the lives of those in her community (being second-generation Jamaican born and raised in Tottenham).

Since training at Berwin Leighton Paisner (now BCLP) and qualifying in 2013, Natalie has dedicated herself to improving diversity in the legal industry through working with various charities and organisations such as Urban Lawyers, for which she orchestrated the UK’s first full day legal conference for students from diverse backgrounds. She also mentors young black women applying for training contracts and co-founded the Black Girls Book Club, which hosts trailblazing authors while creating a safe space for black women to bond over literature.

Sanna Marin, Finland’s youngest-ever prime minister

Who run the world? Girls! Well, in Finland they do. In December 2019, Sanna Marin was elected Prime Minister of the country, making her the world’s youngest prime minister at 34. 

Marin’s new finance minister—Katri Kulmuni—is even younger at 32. They are two of five female party leaders in the five-party ruling centre-left coalition. The government is made up of 12 female and seven male ministers, which is perhaps unsurprising seeing as Finland became the first country in the world to elect women to parliament in 1907.

In February, the new government announced plans to give all parents the same parental leave, in an attempt to get fathers to spend more time with their children. Paid allowance will increase to 164 days per parent, with the option to transfer 69 days to their partner.

Sanna, mother to a 2-year-old daughter, dismissed questions about whether she was suitable for the job, saying "I have never thought about my age or gender. I think of the reasons I got into politics and those things for which we have won the trust of the electorate."

Holly Gillibrand, youth climate activist

Every Friday without fail, Holly leaves school for an hour to demand action on climate change. Despite her home town of Fort William in the Scottish Highlands having a population of only 10,000 people, around 40 people join her to protest each time. 

Her actions are part of a worldwide movement known as ‘Schools strike for Climate’. It began when fellow young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg started skipping lessons to sit outside the Parliament building in Stockholm, calling for a radical change in how governments tackle the climate crisis. 

Holly has been nominated for Young Scotswoman of the year, and continues with her activism, saying that the sacrifice she makes every week is "a small price to pay for standing up for our planet. If you get a detention, that's nothing to how we will suffer in future if nothing is done.” 

“I want to get Scottish leaders to take climate change seriously and [know] that they're destroying my future."

Asma Al Abbarova, helping others find their voice

Asma is Deputy Research Editor at Law Business Research. She moved to the UK from the Middle East at the age of 17 to pursue her higher education, which lead to her graduating from the University of Kent with a Law degree. She obtained her LLM in Media Law from Queen Mary University, specialising in e-Commerce, Cyberspace and Media Law.

Alongside her position, she devotes time to improving diversity in the legal profession as the Senior Coordinator of Big Voice London. The social mobility charity aims to engage young people in law and legal policy and help them to overcome non-traditional law backgrounds. Their projects targeted towards A-Level students include a mooting competition in association with the UK Supreme Court and the UK’s only Model Law Commission.

 

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