The Merseyside Women of the Year (MWOTY) awards is an annual event celebrating the achievements of women from across the region, acknowledging and rewarding those who are changing and giving extra meaning to the lives of people from Merseyside and beyond.
A much-loved celebration of exceptional women from across the region, it returned to the Crowne Plaza in Liverpool city centre on Friday, July 1, following a two-year hiatus.
The pandemic meant that the awards missed its official 10th anniversary year in 2020, so the excitement has been ramping up for the awards ceremony.
Ellie Kerr, Director of MWOTY, said: "It's not just about today. We network with women right throughout the year. It's about confidence, it's about connectivity, it's about networking, and that's what women don't do.
“To be the overall woman of the year, I say you need to step into it, you need to stick your elbows out, and you need to own it. The women that are here today will, I know they will. I will be there to help them every step of the way."
What MWOTY means to winners
Angela Samata was crowned MWOTY winner in 2015, she said: "What it enabled me to do, being named Merseyside Woman of the Year, was to work with loads of different people, loads of different charities.
“I started working with Chasing The Stigma as a trustee for them. I became an ambassador of several other mental health charities.
“So, I think the fact that we won because I was talking openly and honestly about suicidal bereavement just gave an incredible platform not only in the region but nationally as well to talk about this."
Renowned for putting a spotlight on those women who do not seek the limelight or push themselves to the front but instead work to make a difference to the people, sectors and communities they serve, the awards have grown in popularity and impact since their establishment in 2010.
With judges’ votes counted, the finalists are put to a public vote to determine who the overall winner is.
And the winner is...
Jubeda Khatun, artistic director of grassroots combined arts festival, Blackfest, has been named Merseyside Woman of the Year 2022.
Blackfest was established in 2018 to answer a crucial need in Liverpool to celebrate black artists and bridge the gap between institutions and marginalised communities.
Speaking of her win, Jubeda said: “It’s so amazing to be named Merseyside Women of the Year. I am really happy to get this recognition, this is not just for me but it’s for all the Muslim women and women of colour who dream of being leaders, who dream of leading organisations and making a positive impact in society at the same time.
“I hope that seeing me, here, winning this award will inspire more women who look like me to believe that they can do the same. I want to thank everyone who nominated me, the MWOTY organisers and sponsors and all the incredible finalists. Women are amazing and together we can make change.”
At the event, Woman of the Year Jubeda was also named the winner of the Arts & Culture category, presented by Lady Anne Dodd, for her work with Blackfest.
The full list of MWOTY category winners
The Business Leader award, sponsored by Financial Planning Corporation, was awarded to Jennifer Greenan, for her work as Co-founder and Director of E-Verve Energy Ltd, one of the UK’s leading independent providers of electric-vehicle charging-infrastructure, and as founder and trustee of the Electric Futures Charity Trust, which aims to raise awareness of issues our planet faces today with tomorrow’s generation.
Business Leader Runner-Up: Natalie Kenny
The Social Impact award, sponsored by Everton FC, was won by Natalie Denny, for her work raising awareness and helping some of the most vulnerable people in the community through her involvement in organisations and projects including Skywriters Ltd, The Goddess Projects, Scouse Solidarity Sisters, Anthony Walker Foundation and The Period Project Merseyside.
Social Impact Runner-Up: Collette Goulding
The Entrepreneur award, sponsored by IOD Liverpool, went to Karina Molby, for her inclusive fashion label ‘Molby the Label’, which aims to cater for all customers and make them feel beautiful and empowered. As well as rapidly growing her business, Karina also remains active in her community, undertaking charity work and making positive change wherever she can.
Entrepreneur Runner-Up: Rebecca Taylor
The Inspirational Women award, sponsored by the Community Foundation for Merseyside, was won by Debbie Rogers, founder of men’s mental health charity, Sean’s Place, which she established in remembrance of her brother Sean who tragically took his own life. The charity provides free and immediate access to 1 to 1 and group support for men who are struggling and has saved the lives of many.
Inspirational Women Runner-Up: Deborah Stephens
Olivia Hanlon was named winner of the Women’s Group category, sponsored by Equality And Employment Law Centre, for her community platform, Girls in Marketing. The group was established in 2019 to educate and empower aspiring and professional marketers by encouraging a collaborative community spirit and has quickly grown to over 80 thousand followers across social media.
Women’s Group Runner-Up: Ashton Tansey
The Women of Courage award, sponsored by Courage & Sparkle, went to Savera UK CEO and founder, Afrah Qassim. A former winner of the ‘Humanitarian of the Year’ category at the 2012 MWOTY awards, Afrah has continued to drive the charity’s work tackling harmful practices such as forced marriage, ‘honour’ based-abuse and FGM. Over the past 10 years the charity has extended its original services to also include one-to-one services for survivors and those at risk in Merseyside and Cheshire and a national helpline allowing people across the UK to access support.
Women of Courage Runner-Up: Amanda O’Keefe
The Community Change award, sponsored by Neo Community and ADDvanced Solutions, was awarded to Barbara Rouse – better known as the “Duchess of Bootle” -for her tireless work over 45 years, helping to bring change to the community she loves through her volunteer work as CEO of Bootle YMCA, Chair of Derby Park and Director of SAFE Community Homes CIC.
Community Change Runner-Up: Lynsay Armbruster
The Women Making A Difference award, sponsored by Harrogate International Advisory, was won by Dawn Coker, CEO of Access2Funding. Dawn strives to transform the culture of the finance sector, seeking gender equality, aiming to ensure female talent retention and sharing her personal menopause journey to raise awareness regionally and nationally.
Women Making A Difference Runner-Up: Rachael Daly
A special lifetime achievement award was also presented by Hill Dickinson to Maggie O’Carroll, Co-founder and CEO of The Women’s Organisation, which over the last 25 years has supported more than 70,000 women in the North West to assess their skills, test the viability of an idea, grow in confidence and become economically empowered.