To connect BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) women in healthcare in Wales and to create a supportive and empowering network that promotes equality and diversity.
To promote and improve professional development through supporting, networking and educational activities including mentorship, career advice, counselling, leadership, management skills, teaching and research that benefit the Welsh healthcare system and also to facilitate the integration of the BME healthcare women within Welsh healthcare.
Our Story/ Profile
The Ethnic Minority Women in Welsh Healthcare (EMWWH) was established in 2014 to empower and support all professional ethnic minority women in healthcare in Wales. This workforce is represented by medical doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, physiotherapists, scientists, chiropodists, radiographers and many more. The organisation also aims to address the difficulties and challenges encountered by the EMWWH members and identify systems to support them.
Women represent an overwhelming majority of the healthcare workforce, yet they are significantly underrepresented in leadership positions, particularly at the executive and board level. Unfortunately, ethnic minority women are even more invisible in these positions. “Being a black and minority ethnic woman is a double whammy when trying to reach to the top in the NHS. Many BME women have to jump through more hoops than anyone else just to prove they can do the job” (Joan Myers, 2015).
Evidence demonstrates that greater gender balance at the top improves financial and operational performance, and diverse boards better understand the needs of the clients and communities they serve. BME staff, in particular women, have made immense contributions to the NHS, and have been central to making the service sustainable. However, much research suggests they are less favourably treated than other staff. This is evident within the NHS in appointments and promotions; disciplinary procedures; access to senior positions and non-mandatory training; and even bullying (Roger Kline and Umesh Prabhu, 2015). In face of the massive financial and staffing challenges faced recently by the NHS, it is imperative that women, including those from BME backgrounds, are appointed to more senior roles rather than as interims, or in acting or deputy roles. It is imperative that BME women gain support across the board and integrate with all colleagues, regardless of ethnicity, and with wider community so that together they can remove barriers that prevent able, talented and hard-working ethnic minority women to contribute their skill sets to improve the health of people in Wales.
One of the barriers to women gaining senior roles is a lack of access to networks, influential colleagues and sponsors. BME women need a space to grow and gain confidence in a safe environment where their colleagues understand their lived experiences and can support them effectively. Prior to the establishment of EMWWH, there was no such structure in place to support Welsh female BME healthcare workers. Therefore, our hope with this forum is to bring all professional BME women in healthcare together to network, exchange knowledge and skills, and to form new connections. We also hope that it might inspire and motivate women to make meaningful differences by discovering and maximizing their strengths, building confidence and identifying role models.
Our activities over the last five years have included organising quarterly educational meetings at the Division of Cancer and Genetics in Heath Park, instituting a mentorship programme for BME women in healthcare, organising a lecture series that is accessible to the general public, as well as an annual EMWWH conference. We hope to further expand these initiatives, and to form a comprehensive database of BME women in healthcare in Wales which would help improve networking opportunities by expanding our membership.
Current Executive Committee
Prof Meena Upadhyaya – Chair
Prof Sue Wong – Vice Chair
Prof Sue Denman – Chief Strategist
Dr Sangeeta Nathdwarawala- Secretary
Dr Indu Thakur- Vice Secretary
Dr Annupuruna Darbhamulla- Treasurer
Dr Ishrat Islam- Social Secretary
Members: Diana De, Dr Indu Deglurker, Dr Kinnari Mehta, Miss Anju Kumar, Dr Tania Ghafiri, Dr Padmaja Nannapanani, Puvana Sunderampilai, Dr Jehan Khatib
Patron: Baroness Ilora Finlay