About Ms. Pola Manzila Uddin
In 1988, Baroness Uddin became the first Bangladeshi woman councillor in UK, representing Shadwell Ward in Tower Hamlets. She is a pioneer, campaigning for social justice, human rights with particular focus on empowerment of women, leading to taking up the challenge of working in Local Government and was elected as Deputy Leader of Tower Hamlets council in 1992.
In recognition for her contribution to the community and advancement of women’s rights, Baroness Uddin was appointed by the Queen to become the first Muslim to enter the House of Lords in 1998.
Baroness Uddin began her activism in the late 70’s when national front regularly barged down Brick Lane. She became involved in the co-op / Labour led community coalition against the fascist activities. Subsequently immersing in the anti racist movement of the 80’s amongst a handful leading women in the community, which eventually saw the transformation of the East End of London. She led alongside contemporaries, many campaigns which resulted in increase equity in the provision of healthcare, education and housing to the local community. With her friends and colleagues she set up the Jagonari Centre, the UK’s first purpose built Asian Women’s education and training centre and assisted in the development of numerous community empowerment projects many of which she continue to support.
Many of the organisations Baroness Uddin pioneered have since come to be accepted as models of good practice resulting in increased access to employment, leadership development and community engagement. Whilst deputy leader of Tower Hamlets Council, she lead the structural changes required, to bring about the change leading to the council’s policy on ‘reflect the community’ within its workforce.
As a member of the Lords, Baroness Uddin has worked on the Select Committee on European Affairs and chaired several government Task Forces including the work against domestic violence and forced marriage. She also led the work on Community Cohesion and Preventing Extremism which enabled her to travel across many parts of UK as well as Middle East, Europe and USA
As the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh, in 2004 and 2008 she assisted the Disaster Emergency Response Committee, launching in the Lords their fundraising campaign, inviting amongst others Christian Aid, Save the Children Fund, Oxfam, involving the leading Muslim Charities to respond to the disastrous flood and cyclone in Bangladesh.
In 2008 she was appointed to Chair of the Black, Asian and minority Ethnic Women Councillors Taskforce, a cross party initiative set up by the Government. In her role as Chair, Baroness Uddin set out and successfully securing the commitment of the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leaders to change the face of political institutions and address the gross underrepresentation of minority women in public life with evident success.
Professionally, she has led the Zurich International funded, Breaking the Cycle Project which worked successfully across four UK sites, with families affected by drugs and alcohol.
Baroness Uddin has served as an non executive director of Carton television, board member of Autism Speak UK , patron of Orbis International, Student Partnership Worldwide, London Black Women’s Health Project, Institute of Speech and Language Therapy, Bethnal Green and Victoria Park Housing Association, Women’s Housing Forum, Women’s Aid, Brit-Bangla and The Dame Vera Lynn Trust.