Anti-racism campaigner and AJ 2014 Women in Architecture judge Doreen Lawrence has been named as the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour number one ‘Game Changer’ on its annual women’s power list
The mother of Stephen Lawrence, the aspiring architect who was murdered in 1993, was praised for her ‘persistence’ and ‘great strength over the decades’ against victims of racist crime.
In an announcement made yesterday, home secretary Theresa May described Lawrence, who founded the Stephen Lawrence Prize in her son’s honour, as ‘an example to us all.’
The Radio 4 award – now in its second year – applauds the top ten women who have helped change the way in which power operates in the UK over the past year.
The accolade was won last year by the Queen with May named runner up. The judges, who included author and columnist Rachel Johnson, the journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge, Ernst and Young managing partner Liz Bingham, set out to find ‘game changing’ women not within the normal institutions or traditional spheres of power.
‘There is not a whiff of a politician’ on the list remarked the show’s presenters Jane Garvey and Jenni Murray.
Johnson said Lawrence was a worthy winner: ‘You do need guts. People might say that [Lawrence] has been folded into the institutions now, but that is in a sense the payback for having stuck your neck out; you are welcomed in; you are recognised for what you’ve done; and your achievements are noted.’
Lawrence was joined by a number of other known women activists who have campaigned on issues from FGM, cancer research and child poverty, to elderly care and feminism, including Caitlin Moran, Francesa Martinez.
Julie Bentley was named in second place for ‘whistleblowing’ in the NHS.
Speaking about the top ten, Johnson added: ‘It tells us that power is not held in the centre anymore, which I think is a good message.’
Over a six-week period, the panel drew up a shortlist of ‘women who [had] beaten the odds’, were ‘prepared to take risks’ and were ‘self-sacrificing’.
Lawrence’s work, especially on challenging the institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police, received particular praise. In an emotional acceptance speech Lawrence said: ‘It’s great to be thought of and it’s great to be number one. But that’s not how I see myself. I know I have worked extremely hard over the years to bring to the attention of the authorities what happened to my son, but I would give all of this up just to have an ordinary family life and have my family around me.’
Lawrence, the latest person to join the AJ/Observer Skyline campaign, is also currently being recognised alongside other influential women, such as singer-songwriter Annie Lennox and actress Emma Thompson, in Marks and Spencer’s latest Leading Ladies advertising campaign.
The AJ/Observer Skyline Campaign
The campaign aims to ensure the capital’s future skyscrapers are built in the right place and designed to the highest quality.
It has been backed by architects including David Chipperfield, David Adjaye, Eva Jiricna and Ted Cullinan.
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