Ethnic Minority Welsh Women Achievement Association Awards 2023: A celebration of diversity

The EMWWAA Award Ceremony took place on the 13th May 2023 at City Hall in Cardiff. There were many winners in different categories, all from various walks of life. The chief guest was Rt Hon Mark Drakeford who handed out the awards which celebrate the achievements of Welsh women and have been doing so since 2010.

The evening saw hundreds of people gather to recognise the talents of women who are often underrepresented in society and the workplace. The evening commenced with a certificate presentation to all of the finalists who received a greeting and certificate from the First Minister, starters were then served with food from different cultures cooked by chef Steve Gomes, with entertainment following shortly after which consisted of an African dance performed by Aida; a Somali dance performed by Zainab, Fatima and Nagad; and a SAMYOG dance by Dr Santosh Nair, Dr Suchitra Rajan, Dr Leena Menon, Ann Sunny Poulose and Malavika Babu.

After the crowd enjoyed the entertainment, the dinner was served with generous portions being handed out to all of the guests. This was followed by the award ceremony presented by various guests. There were 10 award categories in total with multiple winners in the majority of them. The judging panel consisted of previous winners and university professors.

Emma Wools is the South Wales Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner and won an award for Management and Leadership, she said: “To have this award as recognition is extremely important and most important in terms of being a role model to other women and girls who want to get into policing and perhaps don’t feel as if it represents or recognises them and their particular background.”

Many women and girls from all ethnic minority backgrounds were celebrated on the evening with a community and friendly feel to the evening, the event is important as it represents people and promotes equality, diversity and inclusion.

Reena Patel, headteacher at Kitchener Primary School in Cardiff won an award for Self Development and said: “I just feel so privileged to work with such diverse communities and have the impact that I can have on children, to be that role model for the girls in my school, they can see that they can do it too and they can make a difference.”

Another aim of the EMWWAA is to encourage and applaud success in all aspects of Welsh life and identify the role-models in the communities, which the award ceremony did throughout the evening.

Bami Adeipekun won an award for Science, Technology and Healthcare but also won the Rhodri Morgan Award. She was identified as one of these inspirational women because of her work with Inspired to Soar Ltd. After winning she said: “This is validation, recognition, understanding and an opportunity to carry my work forward.”

Compilation of Winners Interviews:

The concept of Welsh Women Achievement Award was first envisaged when the founder, Professor Meena Upadhyaya attended the Welsh Woman of the year award in 2008. She didn’t win but noticed that Asian women were under-represented amongst the finalists. Meena also identified the need to recognise the talents of Asian women and girls to increase their self-esteem and motivation.

The project, Welsh Asian Women Achievement Award was initiated in 2010 with the first awards ceremony being held in 2011. Since then there have been seven award ceremonies.

Building on this success, the award decided to embrace all black and minority ethnic women and girls in Wales. The organisation was rebranded as the Ethnic Minority Welsh Women Achievement Association.

Their mission is to recognise and celebrate the achievements of ethnic minority women and girls from different walks of life in Welsh society.

Meena who gave a speech on the day said: “Today marks the seventh EMWWAA award ceremony and 14 years since the launch of this initiative. We are proud to be able to host it today and celebrate the achievements of all of these incredible women.

Mark Drakeford works with many women who advise him on policy in the Welsh Government and he supported the event on the night saying: “You are not only reflecting the history of Wales, you are keeping the history of Wales and in doing that you will make Wales a better place for young women and for all people. We want to grow up in a place that celebrates the strength, the diversity it brings us and is proud to recognise the tremendous achievements of those who make Wales what it is today.”

There were many sponsors on the evening who helped to provide the food and drink. People from various walks of life and organisations came together for a special evening to celebrate the people who aren’t represented enough. The work of the EMWWAA continues to empower women and will change society for the better.

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