Women Enterprise and Procurement and reception in UK Parliament

Tuesday 20 April 2010, Panel 5pm for 5.30pm start/ Reception 7.15pm-9pm
House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW

If Women Business Owners were their own country, they would be the 5th largest GDP in the world.* Most of their businesses are small and medium sized enterprises (SME) which find it difficult to access public sector contracts.

Part of the problem in the UK is the simplification of the procurement process following on from the Gershon Review of 2004/05. The big companies (Tier One) win the contracts and subcontract some of the work to smaller companies (Tier Two). But all too often, this leads to an unfair relationship and the smaller businesses effectively carry the risk – and debts – for the larger contractor. The burden can cause SMEs to go out of business altogether. What should the UK Government do about it?

WiPP in the US successfully lobbied their Government for legislative changes resulting in a better deal for SMEs. Now, at least 23% of Government procurement must go to SMEs and at least 5% must go to women owned businesses. Should the UK do the same?

Is there a private sector solution? For example, WEConnect is already connecting women owned companies with large corporations. They seek to create sustainable economic growth by increasing the opportunities for women-owned businesses to succeed in the global value chain.

And what about Directives and Laws from Europe? Should the discussion be taking place there rather than in Britain? The Genesis Initiative believes so and is working to achieve reform of all EU Government SME Procurement Law.

Chaired by:

Rt Hon Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean
WiPP Co-chairman

Discussion Panel:

Jennifer Biscegli
WiPP (US) Board Director, President of InTEROS Solutions Inc

Joy Nichols MBE
CEO, GMB2 Group and Member of the Genesis Initiative

Nieves Childerley
Senior Procurement Manager, London Development Agency

Virginia Littlejohn
CEO of Quantum Leaps, and Chairman of TradeBuilders Inc

Elizabeth Vazquez
Executive Director WEConnect International, and President of TradeBuilders Inc

Sue Lawton
CEO, WEConnect Europe

Marie-Christine Oghly
President and European Commissioner FCEM (World Association of Women Entrepreneurs), & President of EnginSoft, France

Dagmar Steinmetz
Assistant Secretary General FCEM, and Managing Director DDS Consult GmbH, Germany

Register online at www.womeninpublicpolicy.org

Colleen Harris – Crafting Issue-Based Communications Messages in the UK



Colleen Harris is a trailblazer in the dynamic world of public relations and communications in the UK. Here is a really brief breakdown of Colleen Harris’ background and accomplishments:

Colleen is a portfolio executive with substantial communications expertise.

Colleen held a senior communications position at 10 Downing Street, the 1st Black woman to work at Downing Street (in Mrs Thatcher’s press office), before being appointed Press Secretary to HRH the Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry.

More recently Colleen was Strategy and Communications Director at the Commission for Racial Equality and interim Group-Director of Communications at the new Equality & Human Rights Commission.

Colleen is a Member of Council at the Royal Albert Hall, sits on the Press Complaints Commission and the new Channel 4Radio strategy board. She is a Director at Colleen Harris Associates and a Director at Dignity Management Consultancy.

Colleen was awarded her MVO in 2003 for work with the Royal Family. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Visit the websites of Colleen Harris Associates and Dignity Management Consultants.

Zina Saro-Wiwa: A triple threat in the UK

Zina Saro-Wiwa is a triple threat: filmaker, writer and musician.

Zina is the founder of AfricaLab. AfricaLab is a production company dedicated to changing the way the world sees Africa through visual media, principally film and art. We produce films and run contemporary art projects that are explicitly designed to populate the world with fresh and fascinating images and stories from Africa’s 53 nations and her diaspora. AfricaLab’s first major project is called This Is My Africa.

View an excerpt:

You can read one of her works of fiction on Sable Lit.

Listen to her music via her MySpace page.

Alexandra Burke, X Factor winner with #1 Christmas song in UK


Alexandra started singing around the house when she was just 5. At 9 years old she sang on stage in Bahrain with her mother, one of the singers from ‘Soul to Soul’, and the audience loved her. From that moment onwards she was hooked on performing.

At the age of 12 years Alexandra entered ‘Star for a Night’ where she was the youngest person in the competition but was beaten to the no.1 spot by Joss Stone. When she first started school she was bullied because she won all the singing competitions and was in all of the school choirs. As time went on the bullying resided and she now has fond memories of school. She left school after her GCSEs to pursue a career in music.

Read her full biography on Alexandra’s site.


Patricia Sellers, Legal Advisor for Gender Related Crimes and Deputy Head of the Legal Advisory Section, Office of the Prosecutor, UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, International Criminal Prosecutor, Special Legal Advisor to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Independent Legal Expert


Legal Advisor for Gender Related Crimes and Deputy Head of the Legal Advisory Section, Office of the Prosecutor, UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, International Criminal Prosecutor, Special Legal Advisor to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Independent Legal Expert


Ms. Sellers has been a Visiting Fellow of Kellogg College since 2006. From 1994 until 2007 she was the Legal Advisor for Gender and a prosecutor at the Yugoslav (ICTY) and the Rwanda (ICTR) Tribunals. In 2007 she was a Special Legal Advisor to the Gender and Woman’s Rights Division of the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights and also advised the United Nation’s Secretary General’s Special Representative to Children in Armed Conflict in the drafting of an amicus curie brief submitted to the International Criminal Court in the Prosecutor v. Lubanga. Ms. Sellers is currently an independent legal expert in international criminal and humanitarian law.


As the ICTY Legal Advisor for Gender related crimes, Ms. Sellers participated in the development of the international legal standards for the sexual violence under crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, including acts of rape, torture, enslavement, persecution. Ms. Sellers prosecuted the Prosecutor v. Furundzija, the first case wherein rape was recognised as a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. At the ICTR, she was co-counsel and legal strategist in the Prosecutor v. Akayesu, the first international criminal case to convict the perpetrators of the Rwanda genocide and the first international conviction to hold sexual violence as an act of genocide and rape as a crime against humanity. Ms. Sellers was the legal advisor on the Prosecutor v. Kunarac, the international conviction of enslavement under crimes against humanity, based upon acts of sexual violence.


In 2002, in Tokyo, Japan, Ms. Sellers was a Co-chief Prosecutor in a symbolic trial that highlighted the absence of legal redress for thousands of  “Comfort Women” who were enslaved by the Japanese army during World War II. Ms. Sellers has lectured internationally and authored over twenty articles on the law of armed conflict and international criminal law.


In 1999,? the American Society of International Law awarded Ms. Sellers the prestigious Prominent Women in International Law and the Black Student Association of the University of Rutgers Law School awared her the Martin Luther King Award? In 2001, the City University of New York awarded Ms. Sellers an Honorary Doctorate in Law and in 2006, she became an Honorary Fellow for Lifetime Achievement of the Law School of the University of Pennsylvania. In 2007 she was awarded the U.S. National Bar Association’s Ron Brown International Lawyer prize.


From 2002 until 2005 Ms Sellers taught a course entitled “The International Criminal Process” in Kellogg College’s Masters of Human Rights degree program. She is on the faculty of the Oxford University-Washington College of Law Summer Human Rights Program.


Sellers servied at the Directorate General for External Relations at the European Commission, the Ford Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, and the Philadelphia Defender Association. She is a former co-chair of the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Conference of Black Lawyers and is a professor in the Oxford University Joint Program in International Law.

Boma Ozobia

Boma Ozobia is the senior partner in the three-partner law firm, Sterling Partnership, in London Bridge, London.

In 2005 Boma made legal history when she became the first person of minority ethnic origin to become the national Chair of the Association of Women Solicitors (AWS) since it was established 83 years earlier. As Chair she was the official representative of the group with a responsibility for representing thousands of solicitors (currently around 20,000) who include lawyers in private practice, the Government, the general public and various organisations.

Sterling Partnership which has associated offices in Paris, Accra and Lagos, specialises in international commercial law and arbitration, property law and private client work. Boma is a dual qualified lawyer as she is also an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. She is also an accredited mediator with the Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR) Group.

Read her interview with the Black Lawyers Directory.