Black History Month: celebrating Black women in the Lords
2 October 2023 (updated on 2 October 2023)
Black History Month is an occasion to recognise and celebrate the invaluable contributions of Black people to British society.
Saluting our Sisters
The theme for Black History Month 2023 is ‘Saluting our Sisters’. It highlights the crucial role Black women have played in shaping history, inspiring change and building communities.
To mark this, we are recognising Black women members of the House of Lords by showcasing the achievements and contributions of four current members.
Learn more about these exceptional Black women members through the lens of the Saluting our Sisters categories:
Saluting our Sisters Women Who Lead: showcasing Black women who have made significant contributions to leadership and governance.
‘The continued existence of racism and other forms of discrimination in any modern society needs to be seriously addressed.’ Baroness Amos speaking in her first speech in the House of Lords, 3 November 1997.
Baroness Amos is a figurehead of leadership and governance. She has led a government department, the UK Parliament’s second chamber, a United Nations department and a world-renowned university. Her leadership roles have broken new ground in UK politics and academia, and on the international stage.
First Black woman member
She is the first Black woman member of the House of Lords, appointed on 27 September 1997, and the first Black woman in the Cabinet when she was made International Development Secretary in 2003.
20 year anniversary
She is also the first Black person to be Leader of the House of Lords, a job she held for nearly four years. For Saluting our Sisters this Black History Month, we mark 20 years since her appointment as Leader on 6 October 2003.
Baroness Amos continues to play an active role in public life. Her contributions in the House of Lords reflect her professional life in international development and diplomacy, and education and learning.
Saluting our Sisters Breaking Barriers: Black women who have broken down barriers in sports, entertainment, politics, and other fields.
‘[I] look back at programmes such as “Play School” with great love and affection. But little did I know back in 1976 when I became a presenter of that iconic programme that it would lead me to the door of the House of Lords.’ Baroness Benjamin speaking in her first speech in the House of Lords, 13 years ago on 5 October 2010.
Baroness Benjamin broke new ground early in her career as a children’s TV presenter. She continues to champion children’s issues and online safety in her work in the House of Lords.
Children's safety online
As a member of the Lords she has campaigned for better protections for children’s safety online, making significant contributions to the Online Safety Bill and pressing the government on the issue in questions and debates.
‘I look forward to working to make the UK the safest place in the world—the world is looking at us—to go online for everyone in our society, especially our children. As I always say, childhood lasts a lifetime. What a legacy we will leave for them by creating this bill.’ Baroness Benjamin speaking in the final stages of the Online Safety Bill (on 6 September 2023).
Inside and outside the House of Lords, Baroness Benjamin is a figurehead for commemorating the Windrush generation and celebrating its contribution to the UK.
Baroness Moyo of Knightsbridge
Saluting our Sisters Innovators and Entrepreneurs: showcasing Black women who have made significant strides in business and entrepreneurship.
'I have been fortunate in my career to have worked through the vagaries of the world economy, including the challenges of the global financial crisis, Brexit and navigating the Covid pandemic.’ Baroness Moyo of Knightsbridge speaking in her first speech in the House of Lords, 16 March 2023.
Baroness Moyo is a pre-eminent economist renowned for her analysis of developing economies and public policy.
She has worked for some of the world’s biggest banks and businesses and written books on macroeconomics and proposing a new approach to financial development for African countries.
True to her expertise in economics, Baroness Moyo chose the debate on the Spring Budget in March 2023 to make her debut in the House of Lords.
Baroness Young of Hornsey
Pioneering Voices: Black women who have used their voices to speak out against injustice.
‘It is indeed a privilege to be admitted into this chamber and to be given the opportunity to work for the citizens of this country. It is also, of course, a great responsibility, of which I am keenly aware.’ Baroness Young of Hornsey speaking in her first speech in the Lords chamber, 25 November 2004.
Baroness Young is a leading force in the arts and culture where she has worked in leadership roles and as an academic and author.
She uses her voice in the House of Lords to speak out on many issues, in particular against injustices facing the victims of modern slavery in supply chains.
Baroness Young has spoken in the wake of disasters in the clothing industry, such as the Rana Plaza collapse, and called for greater transparency and safety in fashion industry supply chains. She made significant contributions to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and put forward her own private member’s bill to require commercial organisations and public bodies to include a statement on slavery and human trafficking in their annual report and accounts.
Year-round work on issues facing Black communities
Members of the Lords work year-round pressing the government on issues facing Black communities. Recent examples include:
- Baroness Thornton’s question quizzing the government on what steps it’s taking to tackle pay inequality experienced by BAME women.
- A debate to mark the 75th anniversary of Windrush.
- Explore House of Lords Library resources on Black History Month
- Meet our members: find out who’s in the House of Lords
- Watch Baroness Benjamin in the latest episode of Lord Speaker’s Corner