A CEREMONY was held on Saturday to celebrate the success of Bradford women making positive contributions to their communities.

The Bradford Inspirational Women’s Awards, organised by Tony Tokunbo Eteka Fernandez, CEO of community group Africa4u, was held at City Library on 1 February.

Among the winners were Professor Uduak Archibong pHd MBE, the University of Bradford’s Professor of Diversity, who focusses on workforce diversity and providing BAME people with better access to, and engagement in, health and social services. She was also featured in the Northern Power Women’s list of 100 women, in January 2019, celebrating champions of gender equality in the north of England.

Yemi Fagborun, of Bradford charity Peacemaker International, was also recognised. She picked up the award less than a week before she is due to speak at Bradford's International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, which her charity will be leading.

Nigerian-born Yemi, who moved to Bradford in 1991, is an outspoken advocate against Female Genital Mutilation, a practice where the genitals of a female, typically aged between infancy and 15, are deliberately cut or altered, often in an attempt to control their sexuality.

Glynis Fletcher, of the charity My Daddy’s Haven, was also awarded, for her work supporting orphans in South Africa who have lost parents to HIV/AIDs.

Glynis, born in South Africa and now living in Low Moor, has a degree in nursing and first moved to the UK in 1999. Although she has only been living in the city since 2018, she says she is “very passionate” about Bradford and describes it as a “Beautiful, pleasant city with amazing people."

“I’m really happy to win the award and I’m grateful to Tony for organising the event. Events like this encourage the empowerment of women. There are so many good things in Bradford. The city deserves to shine - we need more events like this to show people what it's like.”

Glynis' award is perhaps even more poignant as it came, coincidentally, just days before what would have been the 31st birthday of Nkosi Johnson - a South African boy who lost his mother to AIDs before dying from the condition himself, at the age of just 12, in 2001.

Nkosi spoke at an International AIDs Conference, where he helped to influence public perception of the condition. Glynis hopes to help more children just like Nkosi with her work.

“What we do is important for children. We hope to build an orphanage, to provide them with a safe environment where they can be protected."

Sheena Hussain, a poet who grew up in Girlington, was also the recipient of an award.

A qualified solicitor, she published her debut poetry book in 2018 and has also carried out community work, which includes leading a cancer support group.

"The event was very well organised, there were renowned speakers from both Bradford and Manchester collectively celebrating the achievement of women", Sheena said.

"The positive message that stood out for me was that any one of us can be an entrepreneur, it’s not so much about the funds, it’s the idea. Women and women of colour are making huge changes in leadership roles and challenging the status quo and this without doubt must be celebrated.

"By organising the event Tony has given a huge boost to all women here in Bradford - I am hopeful more will follow”.

Event organiser Tony said, “We want to recognise women who are doing great things in Bradford. We may not hear of people like this often, and I believe we should."

Tony, who has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and World Literature, has been a keynote speaker, a poet, an author, a foreign languages teacher and a passionate campaigner for community cohesion over the years.

He has also organised Black History Month celebrations at the Houses of Parliament, for seven years in a row.

Tony, who moved to Bradford from London three years ago, said,“I love Bradford. The people here make great contributions to humanity. We are privileged to have these great souls in our community.”