Posted in Guest posts · Master's blog

On Friday 17th October 2014, Fitzwilliam was treated to a lively discussion, provoked by the visit of Ahmed Rashid (English and SPS 1968) to take part in one of our series “In Conversation with the Master”. Undergraduate Grace Carroll (PPS 2011, MST 2014) here gives her response to the event:

Famous for his books on the politics and affairs of Central Asia – with special focus on Pakistan and Afghanistan – Ahmed Rashid spent much of his introductory talk looking at the repeated failure of modernisation and democratisation in that part of the world. He explored the role of Western states such as the US and the UK in accentuating the challenges faced by various countries in creating strong democratic institutions or modern economic structures. As a student whose subject focus has been war, revolution and imperialism, I found such a commanding yet accessible summary of events and issues facing the region very insightful.

Ahmed Rashid and the Master, Nicky Padfield

Ahmed Rashid and the Master, Nicky Padfield

The Middle East is currently dominating international news due to the activities of ISIS, in what many have seen as rather sudden rise to prominence. However, Rashid commented that these events are best seen as the cumulative result of years of chaotic, short-sighted foreign policy towards the Middle East by the West, frequently failing to take into account the particularities of a country’s political culture and recurrently pulling campaigns out too early, leaving a power vacuum. Citing the US’s haphazard policy in Afghanistan, Rashid described how the US granted local warlords the power to run the country whilst the Pentagon focused attention on the Iraq campaign – resulting in a chaotic political situation that was an incubator of tribalism and extremism.

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Nicola Padfield

About Nicola Padfield

Nicola Padfield MA, Dip Crim, DES became Master of Fitzwilliam College in October 2013. She is a Reader in Criminal and Penal Justice at the Law Faculty, University of Cambridge, and has been a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College since 1991.

Posted in Master's blog

Some months ago I accepted my invitation to the Women of the Year lunch, held this week, with some coyness. Was my ego that big that I wanted to pay generously to have lunch with some of the great and the good? Was it really appropriate to take most of the day “off” for such a frolic? I’m really not a lady who lunches. I convinced myself that it was worthwhile – try most things once….

How glad I am that I went. It was truly inspirational, and enormous fun. First the fun. Sandi Toksvig was the compere – wonderfully, wonderfully funny as she introduced the various award winners. I wish I could do that… We all met at numbered tables for drinks and then adjourned to our different tables of eight for lunch. My neighbours included Dorothy Ghanekar, young person’s independent domestic violence advocate for the Her Centre in Greenwich and Pauline Woods, coordinator of ‘Born too soon’ a support group for the Neonatal Group at Kingston Hospital. These women were hugely worth celebrating for what they are quietly getting on and doing, contributing enormously to the well being of our society. The atmosphere was celebratory, and full of laughter.

By the time it came to the presentations we were all on top form. First the Women of the Year DFS Enterprise Award went to Jack Monroe of austerity recipe blog fame. ITV’s Lorraine Inspirational Woman of the Year was Joanne Thompson who, after her baby died at a nursery, has dedicated herself to improving paediatric first aid training across the country. Then the Women of the Year Good Housekeeping Outstanding Young Campaigner of the Year was Fahma Mohamed, aged 17, successfully campaigning and warning girls of the dreadful practice of female genital mutilation (FGM is everybody’s business, regardless of race, gender or religion, she says – I was delighted that we have already invited the Bare Truth Theatre Company to Fitzwilliam in November to put on Little Stitches).

The Barclays Women of the Year award went to Diana Nammi. An Iranian Kurd, she came to England and sought asylum after 12 years fighting for human rights in Iran. She was provided with an interpreter, a woman who had lived in England for 11 years and spoke fluent English. Later Diana learnt that her interpreter has been taken back to Kurdistan and murdered by her husband and his brothers who suspected her of flirting with a colleague. The police in England refused to investigate. And so in 2002 she founded the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) to provide advice, advocacy and counselling for women in this country affected by “honour-based” domestic violence. The Prudential Lifetime Achievement award went to Christina Noble for decades of work with street children in Vietnam and Mongolia. And finally there was Beatrice Mtetwa, who got the woman of the year council award. She is the most extraordinarily brave human rights lawyer from Zimbabwe. These really are ordinary women doing quite extraordinary things. i.e. extraordinary women. The room was full of women doing extraordinary things. I came home determined to do better!

And yes – it was a great occasion to network. I did meet some great women I know and admire (but just missed the mother of the recent Fitz graduand, who emailed me soon afterwards….). All in all, an amazing event. Three cheers for the organisers, Baroness Helena Kennedy and her ‘celebrated figures in national life’. The great and the good were there, after all, but largely unobtrusively hosting an inspirational event.

Nicola Padfield

About Nicola Padfield

Nicola Padfield MA, Dip Crim, DES became Master of Fitzwilliam College in October 2013. She is a Reader in Criminal and Penal Justice at the Law Faculty, University of Cambridge, and has been a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College since 1991.

Posted in Master's blog

I sat next to an old man at the back of Bombay Magistrates’ Court and asked him why he was there. His sad story of a false accusation was not nearly as shocking as his total, utter, resignation to the fact that it would take him years and years to clear his name. He was utterly overwhelmed by the ‘system’. This was just one of many insights that I gained last week into the challenges facing those who want to improve India’s criminal justice system. In Bombay High Court a judge was dealing with vast lists of interlocutory applications in criminal matters. Even she seemed resigned to inevitability of delays as she rejected endless applications, tipping the files off the front of her table onto the floor in front of her. Read more…

Nicola Padfield

About Nicola Padfield

Nicola Padfield MA, Dip Crim, DES became Master of Fitzwilliam College in October 2013. She is a Reader in Criminal and Penal Justice at the Law Faculty, University of Cambridge, and has been a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College since 1991.