Join us online from 10am - 12pm on Friday 5th March 2021 as we #ChooseToChallenge for International Women's Day 2021, and celebrate with one of the region's first West Midlands Mayoral hustings, with all local candidates in attendance.

In what's sure to be a lively and interesting discussion, hear from each of the candidates as they discuss their thoughts and plans for the West Midlands.

To host the hustings we are delighted to be joined by Fiona Mactaggart, Chair of Fawcett Society.

We are also delighted to be joined by our keynote speaker: -

Shappi Khorsandi

Award-winning stand-up comedian and best-selling author

Shappi Khorsandi established herself as one of the UK’s finest comedians in 2006 with her sell-out Edinburgh show, Asylum Speaker. Despite the basis for the show being her experiences as a child refugee fleeing Iran, and terrorists attempting to murder her father, Shappi’s sensitive yet witty exploration of these events created an instant comedy smash hit.

It also lead to the publication of her childhood memoirs, “A Beginner’s Guide To Acting English“, her best-selling literary debut, described by the Scotsman as ‘filled with laughter, wonder and compassion’. Emma Thompson said “‘This very funny, acute book also made me cry”.

Shappi went on to publish her first novel, Nina Is Not Ok, which was described by the Telegraph as ‘moving, funny and shocking’ and received tremendous acclaim from critics and readers alike.

Shappi’s career has taken her to all corners of the globe. She has appeared on countless TV & Radio shows, including: Live at the Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, The Secret Policeman’s Ball for Amnesty International, Mock The Week, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Have I Got News For You, QI, and Just a Minute, as well as her own show, Shappi Talk.

She has received an honorary doctorate from Winchester University for her contribution to the arts. Her mother was overjoyed, until she realised Shappi can’t actually write prescriptions for her.

Shappi has also received the prestigious James Joyce Award for outstanding success in her field from Dublin University.

TV, radio and literary accolades aside, Shappi is most proud of being a “spit & sawdust” club stand-up at the frontline of the entertainment industry. Nothing beats the buzz of a live audience and one of her favourite things is pulling on her wellies, trudging through muddy fields, and performing at festivals– she’s a regular at Glastonbury but will happily go any place where there is music, beer and a comedy tent.

As a speaker and awards host, Shappi can deftly handle the most serious subjects with a sprinkling of humour – a skill perfected in her early stand-up shows.

The popularity of Shappi’s father as a satirist attacking the regime has ensured that her family has never returned to Iran.

As Shappi says, “there’s free speech in Iran, but little freedom after you’ve spoken.”

She has two dogs, two cats and two children so can often be found hiding in the airing cupboard, eating crisps in the dark.

We will then have the opportunity to join Shappi in conversation with:

Katie Perrior

Katie was the first female Director of Communications to the Prime Minister at No.10 Downing St. Prior to that she co-founded iNHouse Communications with Jo Tanner, having held a number of senior roles including Head of Press for Channel 4 News and Deputy Head of Press for ITV News. Katie and Jo led the public relations campaign for Boris Johnson’s successful London mayoral campaign in 2008. Katie now focuses on high profile senior counsel, and has advised clients including PeoplePlus, Centrica, Diageo, News UK and VolkerWessels. Katie is a former Non-Executive Director for a South London NHS Trust and was appointed to the board of Ebbsfleet Garden City by the then Prime Minister David Cameron. She was also the cabinet member for housing and community affairs in the London Borough of Bexley for 12 years. Katie is currently a member of the Suburban Task Force, an inquiry set up by the All Parliamentary Group on London and the Built Environment and recently supported the Grimsey Review on how high streets should build back better post the pandemic. She is also a school governor.

Katie writes regularly for The Times and Sunday Times newspaper as well as the Politico website and is a political broadcast commentator for Sky, the BBC and ITV.

Our event will also include one of the first hustings in the region for the forthcoming West Midlands Mayoral election in May. We will be joined by all Mayoral candidates, who will be discussing their plans for the region, in what is sure to be an interesting and lively debate, chaired by Fiona Mactaggart, Chair of Fawcett Society.

Your hustings will include:-

Liam Byrne (Labour)

Steve Caudwell (Green Party)

Ashvir Sangha (Independent)

Andy Street (Conservative)

Jenny Wilkinson (Liberal Democrat)

Sign up: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/celebrating-international-womens-day-2021-tickets-132961652883