Di Xiao
  • Young Women Into Leadership (You WIL) aims to inspire 14 to 16 year old girls
  • Girls from Birmingham will join peers from Commonwealth countries and partner cities
  • Speaker line-up includes Di Xiao, concert pianist, and Dr Helen Pankhurst, activist and academic and great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Aston University, Birmingham City Council and the US Embassy in London are once again joining forces to deliver a week-long leadership summit to inspire the next generation of female leaders. 

Eighty girls are enrolled in the Young Women Into Leadership (You WIL) online programme for 14 to 16 year olds, which will take place during the week of 25 July. This year it has a Commonwealth flavour, with Birmingham girls joined by peers from India, South Africa, Barbados and Cyprus as well as from partner cities of Chicago, Nanjing, Milan and Johannesburg.

The programme promotes diversity and inclusivity, with more than half of the girls participating coming from Birmingham’s most deprived wards. The summit is thematically focused with each day covering a different topic, including women in politics/public services, business, sport, STEM and media and culture.

The line-up of speakers who will be sharing their insight and wisdom with participants includes:

  • Di Xiao, concert pianist, named amongst the 10 most outstanding Chinese concert pianists and champion of female composers
  • Amanda Reifer, manager of sport promotion at the University of the West Indies
  • Paulette Hamilton MP, Labour member of parliament for Birmingham Erdington
  • Dr Helen Pankhurst, activist and academic and great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the British Suffragette movement
  • Jayne Torvill, former Olympic ice champion and Dancing on Ice judge.

The initiative is being championed by the deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Brigid Jones and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Maureen Cornish.

The participants will be supported by mentors from Aston University to develop presentations on a given theme which will be made live online to US Embassy staff and senior political representatives from Birmingham at the end of the programme.

The Lord Mayor said:

“This is a wonderful opportunity for young women from Birmingham to connect with like-minded young women from across the Commonwealth and beyond.

“The programme is highly interactive and provides a unique opportunity for young women to speak to female leaders and gain some insider hints and tips on how to achieve success in a broad range of career areas. 

“It is another example of how Birmingham City Council supports its young people to reach their full potential.”

Saskia Hansen, Interim Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, added:

“Aston University is delighted to be involved in the You WIL programme to promote female leadership and to provide an opportunity to connect Birmingham and international students from sister cities and Commonwealth countries through structured virtual presentations, discussions and mentoring activities.

“Last year’s programme was a tremendous success and I am so pleased that we have been able to attract an outstanding group of local and international 14 to 16 year old participants, and an amazing suite of speakers, for the 2022 You WIL programme.”

Notes to Editors

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Saskia Hansen is the interim Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Rebecca Hume, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7557 745416 or email: r.hume@aston.ac.uk

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