This week, the former Minister of Faith and Communities and Leeds alumni, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi spoke as a guest for an event hosted by LUU Pakistani Society.
The event on Thursday, which was publicised as ‘An Audience with Baroness Warsi’, aimed to celebrate the Baroness’ achievements as the first British Asian Muslim woman to be offered a top parliamentarian position.
In her early years, Warsi graduated as a solicitor from the University before standing as parliamentary candidate for the Conservative party in the local elections in her hometown, Dewsbury. She was later appointed by David Cameron as a Minister without Portfolio in Cabinet, succeeding Eric Pickles.
The talk started with an introduction to her journey into politics. Warsi spoke of the issues she faced as an ethnic woman in a white and male-dominated political sphere.
When recalling her first involvement in politics and the reactions from the local towns people she said, ‘I was too woman for half of them, too brown for the other half’.
The event also gave the audience an opportunity to ask questions. The Baroness humorously reassured the audience, ‘I will answer any questions, except if it involves my weight’.
Warsi’s recent controversy regarding her resignation from Cabinet during the attacks on Gaza last summer was not left unquestioned.
She told the audience that her resignation was a result of conflict of interest and that she felt a moral obligation as Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to stand down. The Baroness explained, ‘When I look at myself in the mirror, I want to feel no regrets for the decisions I made’.
When asked what advice she would give to women wanting to pursue a career in politics, she said ‘intelligence and hard work are very important, but a lot of it is down to luck’.
Issues regarding the rise of extremism, foreign policy and the plight of Kashmiris were also discussed during the event.
LUU PakSoc’s General Secretary Yumna Usmani, told the newspaper, ‘We are very grateful to Baroness Warsi for coming to Leeds. With her anecdotes and witty comments she was able to insight a sense of pride in Pakistani culture amongst our members and make the students from across cultures aware that there is so much more beyond cultural stereotypes. It was a talk that everybody enjoyed, a lecture that was not only fun to listen to but also thought-provoking’.
The event was organised in collaboration with LUU’s PolisSoc, ISoc and PIN.
Photo: LUU PakSoc