A new coalition, comprising women and their allies, convened for the inaugural meeting aimed at shaping the future policy direction of Tracy Brabin, the Mayor of West Yorkshire.

Appointed by the Mayor as the Inclusivity Champion for the region, Fatima Khan-Shah launched the Women of West Yorkshire Network on 3rd October. This network will serve as a source of support for women and girls, forming part of a grassroots movement striving for change.

This initiative comes on the heels of the “Just Don’t” campaign, which targets inappropriate male behaviour and daily instances of sexual harassment directed towards women and girls. Mayor Brabin and West Yorkshire’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Alison Lowe OBE, have both made commitments to prioritise the needs of women and girls in their plans for the region.

Convening at Tileyard North in Wakefield, local leaders including Shanaz Gulzar, Creative Director of Bradford UK City of Culture 2025, Fatima Patel, Editor in Chief at the Asian Standard, and Rob Webster CBE, CEO of the West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board, addressed and shared their experiences with an audience of around 100 women and allies.

Discussions during the event encompassed the significance of allyship from men, equitable representation for women, and the imperative to dismantle barriers that hinder the progress of women and girls.

Mayor Brabin recently spoke candidly about how her own life experiences, including a traumatic encounter with attempted sexual violence in her twenties, propelled her into politics and moulded her determination to effect positive change for women and girls in West Yorkshire.

Fatima Khan-Shah, West Yorkshire’s Inclusivity Champion said; “Networks have been instrumental to my success. I have met some amazing people on my journey who have helped me to grow.

“To drive forward a West Yorkshire that works for all, it’s important to create a space where people can get together and discuss what matters to them, so we can identify problems and drive positive change.

“I look forward to meeting with this incredible group again, and if anyone would like to get involved, please reach out.”

As West Yorkshire’s Inclusivity Champion, Ms Khan-Shah works closely with regional leaders and the communities they serve, providing expert advice on inclusion and how to address regional disparities affecting issues such as pay, health and wellbeing.

Speaking about the event and appointing an Inclusivity Champion, Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire said; “When I was elected, I pledged to appoint an Inclusivity Champion for West Yorkshire and put women and girls at the heart of my priorities.

“I firmly believe that the diversity of our region is its biggest strength, and Fatima Khan-Shah is laser focused on helping me tackle inequalities of every kind across the region.

“This new Women of West Yorkshire Network will offer a vital source of support, information sharing, mentoring and solidarity to our women and girls, as we build a brighter region that works for all.”

Cathy Elliot, Chair of the NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board said; “Having a forum like this for West Yorkshire will enable women and allies to create a supportive environment for learning, development, and collaboration for positive change locally. It will be invaluable.

“This is an opportunity for people to come together to share ideas, help each other to solve problems, voice the things they would like to change and create opportunities for one another.

“I can’t wait to see the success of this new network.”