Inspirational Women: Baroness Mary Goudie

FROM WE ARE THE CITY  Baroness Mary Goudie is a formidable woman who has been an active global advocate for the rights of women and children for many years. With all her achievements and accomplishments it was her warmth and openness that struck me. As a woman who has been in politics for over 50 years she is an inspiration to all of those striving to make a difference in the world.  Through her work on the board of Vital Voices, she is involved in promoting gender equity with both the G8 and G20 and is currently the Chair of the Women Leaders’ Council to Fight Human Trafficking at the United Nations.


Baroness Goudie joined the Young Socialists Movement at the age of 16, an age when many young of her age would have been forgiven for focusing on less challenging issues in their teenage lives. I asked her why she decided to enter politics and was instantly inspired by her response:

I saw the deprivation of the area in which I grew up in from an early age, there was so much discrimination at that time, discrimination that I simply could not ignore. My parents are Irish and to see such terrible ads placed in windows stating, “No Irish, no Blacks”, moved me to act. People coming from the West Indies to help to develop this country, to do the jobs that needed to be done, were not treated with dignity and were not welcomed at all.

It was such open discrimination and yet after all these years despite no longer being able to “openly” discriminate and put such signs up there is still so much work to be done when it comes to equality.

I wanted to know how Baroness Goudie maintained a successful career in an industry that is not always kind to women. How did she manage to stay focused and passionate in politics?

I have a lot of energy. This is what keeps me going. Yes, I get exhausted but I am very driven, and it is by having this drive that keeps me motivated to carry on. By being naturally energetic and loving what I do, I have been able to maintain focus and strive for success.

Having campaigned passionately on the issue of equality for women and for children’s rights for many years I wanted to know what issues we need to be made aware of in these areas of advocacy for 2015.

Education at every level is crucial in order to assert change in these areas. Women who have an education can support their families more, everything from basic literacy to computer skills, but this needs to be funded. Too many organisations and NGOs who help to educate and empower are now worried about cuts in funding. We must continue to keep the funding for overseas aid flowing in the right direction and educate people to ensure that they become empowered. It is REALLY important to have women included in the peace talks we have to insist that it happens, so that the political climate in many nations can change.

There needs to be access to finance, basic to finance and some form of banking to re-invest in business & education. Women who can start their own businesses in developing countries are more likely to ensure their children can go on to better education and lead better quality lives.

It is my hope that platforms like twitter, and other forms of social media can be used to campaign for change; for example the campaign to end Pay Day Loans which I have supported was helped by social media. Women and families in poverty should not have to rely on that form of finance.

Baroness Goudie is certainly tech savvie. Her blog is used to highlight her advocacy work and the work of others. She has used social media and technology to campaign for the rights of women and children.

It is such a powerful tool to send out messages, profiling issues like human trafficking and raising awareness. I particularly like to profile other women drawing attention to women at the peace table.

Baroness Goudie was the youngest woman elected to the London Borough of Brent Council in its history, this inspired many women in politics who came after her and yet there is still a significantly long way to go until we see another Female Prime Minister in the UK. I asked Baroness Goudie what needs to happen before we see more gender equality in politics and industry.

There needs to be work on the ground, you can’t just turn up, you have to work with people. Take the time to meet those people who will vote for you and gain support internally. I cannot say this enough but it really is about doing the work. You need to have confidence in yourself and be able to convince people that you have what it takes to make a difference. Take up the issues with the people who will vote for you.

I do believe that we will see another Female PM in our life time but the people in any political party need to work for it in order to make it happen.

As the Chair of the Women Leaders’ Council to Fight Human Trafficking at the United Nations, I wanted to know what the most challenging aspect of the role was.

Lack of money – more money goes into fighting money laundering & drugs and rightly so but we must keep Human trafficking on the agenda too.

We have to keep it on all countries agenda–getting on the agenda at G20 & G8 was a big step but we need to make sure we focus on what happens afterwards, people have to ensure that the money is actually spent in the right way and to some degree micro-manage the end product of campaigns.


After such detailed questioning I decided to do some quick fire questions with Baroness Goudie.

What would you say are the essential traits needed to be a successful leader?

Keep the best people around you, people with skills that you don’t have. Keep grounded. Keep in touch with people and most importantly maintain that quality of trust.

What’s been your greatest achievement personally?

My Children. Without them I wouldn’t be who I am.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Trying to get people to understand, they have power but they don’t know how to use the power. In the meantime those with the power shouldn’t interrupt those who are making things happen, they should be supporting those who are trying to make a difference.

If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?

I would spend more time with my family. I would also be running an NGO or run an organisation that undertakes training for NGOs; helping people to make decisions which truly make an impact.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Some of my biggest inspirations, unfortunately have died, my sponsors have been both men & women

Ambassador Melanne Verveer and Hilary Clinton

Christine Lagarde takes a great lead for women in finance.

Helena Morrissey, my friend who I co-founded 30% Club with is setting the agenda, taking this agenda globally. Helena has given us great leadership.

What does the future hold for you?

To continue what I’m doing, hoping to see more change and that I can get more change. We have to fight off UKIP and the right wing. We need to ensure that the extreme right wing doesn’t get control. The next 12 months will be difficult but I will continue to work hard.

To follow Baroness Goudie


 Author: Ronke Lawal – LinkedIn



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