A Look At Brenda King-Speaker at the 1st Black European Women’s Congress in Vienna

Brenda King, MBE
Brenda King, MBE

Hopefully you watched the video of Brenda King’s opening remarks at the 1st Black European Women’s Congress last week in Vienna. Brenda emphasised that when she was invited to attend the Congress she made sure that she wrote her abstract personally.

Now I want to give you a look at her role in Brussels on the EU level. Brenda is the President of the Specialised Section “Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship” of the European Economic and Social Committee. She commutes to Brussels from the UK.

According to their website: The SOC Section covers a broad range of policy formulation including employment, working conditions, occupational health, social protection, social security, social inclusion, gender equality, combating discrimination, improving free movement, immigration/integration and asylum, education and training, citizens’ rights, and participatory democracy in the EU.

The SOC Section’s activities cover the work of several European Parliamentary committees and Commission Directorates-General, giving a comprehensive input to the social dimension of the Lisbon agenda.

Key themes recently highlighted in the SOC Section programme include job growth and quality employment, lifelong learning, training and productivity, occupational health and safety in the new Member States, healthcare for the elderly, women’s representation, people with disabilities, and EU ‘civic citizenship’.

Hearings on such themes are regularly held with experts and civil society organisations.

Brenda is the only black person in this section and leads a bureau comprised of representatives from Greece, Hungary, Poland, Malta, Austria, Spain, Czech Republic, Estonia, and France.

Here is what Brenda is up to today:

European Economic and Social Committee

Section’s 88th
2 October 2007

The draft agenda is as follows:

1. Adoption of the draft agenda

2. Approval of the minutes of the 87th meeting held on 17 July 2007 (CESE 1173/2007)

3. Statement by the President

4. SOC/275
Opinion on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Community statistics on public health and health and safety at work
COM(2007) 46 final ??? 2007/0020 (COD)
Rapporteur: Mr Retureau (CESE 1176/2007)

5. SOC/265
Opinion on Credit and social exclusion in an affluent society
(own-initiative opinion)
Rapporteur: Mr Pegado Liz (CESE 858/2007)

6. SOC/268
Opinion on EU immigration and cooperation policy with countries of origin to foster development
(own-initiative opinion)
Rapporteur: Mr Pariza Casta??os (CESE 1106/2007)

7. SOC/267
Opinion on Entrepreneurship mindsets and the Lisbon Agenda
(own-initiative opinion)
Rapporteur: Ms Sharma
Co-rapporteur: Mr Olsson (CESE 892/2007)

8. SOC/279
Opinion on Abuse of elderly people
(exploratory opinion)
Rapporteur: Ms Heinisch (CESE 1156/2007)

9. Organisation of section work

10. Any other business
– Discussion of own-initiative proposals

11. Confirmation of the date of the next section meeting: 14 November 2007.

In addition to her duties in Brussels, Brenda helps youth in London. I’ll tell you more about that important work in a future post.

Uncomfortable Truths-the shadow of slave trading on art & design-200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

2007 marks the bi-centenary of the parliamentary abolition of the slave trade. It is a landmark year, not just in British history but in human history, signalling the end of 400 years of slavery. To commemorate this the V&A is running a number of activities throughout the year.

1. A series of contemporary works in the Museum’s galleries and public spaces raise questions about the haunting and ambiguous legacies of slavery.

2. As part of Uncomfortable Truths there will be a number of activities and events including talks, tours, films, poetry and music throughout 2007.

3. Five collections-based, celebrity led trails are running throughout the permanent galleries from 20 February to 31 December 2007.

4. The Uncomfortable Truths Discussion Board is open to all and we hope that it will enable and encourage an open debate on issues related to the transatlantic slave trade and art and design.

Michelle Obama in London update for non-US residents

Amendment to the rule on non-US guests: At all price levels they are able to attend if the contributions have come from the account of US passport holders. As admission to all events will be determined by the confirmation of payment email printout, the recommendation is that you and your guests arrive together or that you send a copy of said receipt to each guest. Their names will have already had to have been registered and, for security purposes, they should bring a picture ID.

Also, after making your contribution, please check your Spam Folder if you haven’t received your confirmation as all contributions will be confirmed via email without fail.

As a reminder, the link to the $2300 and $1000 reception is:

And the link to the $100 event is:

A word of advice in relation to the $100 event: for venue and security reasons this is going to have to be kept at c.200 attendees. Notification will be going out today via Democrats Abroad UK and are expecting places to be taken up quickly.

While you’re in London – Inhuman Traffic: The Business of the Slave Trade (more on the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade)

This small exhibition explores how the Transatlantic Slave Trade functioned.

It covers more than 500 years, including the Parliamentary Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1807.

It features resistance leaders including Toussaint l’Ouverture, Olaudah Equiano and Nanny of the Maroons, and their continuing legacy of the struggle to end enslavement.

Admission free
Until 6 April 2008
Room 69a at the British Museum

Notes from England: Black and Asian women are "missing" from almost a third of workplaces in areas with significant ethnic minority populations

As it releases the results of a two-year investigation, which reveals for the first time the full scale of the workplace penalties faced by Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean women, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) is today calling for a fundamental cultural shift in the way black and Asian women are treated at work and by public policy makers.

Moving on Up: Ethnic Minority Women at Work, the largest investigation of its kind in Great Britain, has established that Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean women face significantly greater penalties than white women in the workplace. Those who want to work are finding it more difficult to get jobs, progress within them and are more likely to be segregated into certain types of work, despite leaving school with the same career aspirations as white girls and similar or better qualifications than white boys.

In areas with above average numbers of black and Asian women participating in the local labour market, BME women are entirely absent from 3 out of 10 workplaces and under-represented in almost 3 out of 5 workplaces. The EOC’s report suggests it’s not too late to set the country on a different course. 28% of employers surveyed said they intended to introduce steps to improve the recruitment and progression of black and Asian women. However, the same percentage said they were unsure what action to take.

The EOC is today urging Britain???s employers and policy makers to catch up with the diversity of modern Britain and develop ???cultural intelligence??? – the awareness, understanding and confidence to communicate and relate positively to people from different cultural backgrounds, to get the best from them at work and design policy that meets their needs.

The EOC warns that cultural intelligence is absolutely crucial if Britain is to avoid paying a high economic and social price. Between 2001 and 2020, ethnic minority people are expected to account for over 70% of the growth in the UK population aged 16-59. With Britain???s employers facing skills shortages, it is crucial to tap into a growing and increasingly well-qualified pool of young Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean women’s talent if we are to maintain economic growth.

And with access to jobs being a key ingredient of community cohesion, policy makers will fail to build stronger communities unless black and Asian women’s skills and ambitions translate into better-paid jobs in a wider range of organisations.

Read the entire press release here.

By the numbers:

Breakdown of Black Caribbean women in English cities (Sources: ONS (2004) Census 2001: CD Supplement to the National report for England and Wales; GROS (2004) Scotland???s Census 2001: CD 5 Volume 1.):

Birmingham: 25,700
Bradford: 1,500
Leeds: 3,600
Leicester: 2,500
London: 191,500
Manchester: 4,700