Student tackles issues affecting Black women and non-binary people

Friday 2 December 2022


A St Catharine’s student is leading a group of students to campaign on issues that affect Black women and non-binary people. Zoe Olawore, a second-year Law undergraduate, is Co-President of Black Girls’ Space (BGS) and has received financial support for her group from the Master’s Fund, which was established with a generous donation from Jon (1983, Natural Sciences) and Ann Ardron.

BGS is a new non-profit organisation created by students at the University of Cambridge that aims to provide a community for Black girls and non-binary people in Cambridge and beyond, all while spearheading campaigns on critical educational, political and social issues.

After arriving at St Catharine’s in 2021, Zoe joined a Snapchat group of Black students from across Cambridge. BGS was soon established and Zoe volunteered to be Co-President when it became clear from their conversations that there was an appetite for a new community that could organise around key issues:

“It sounds cliché but part of why we started BGS was to provide some sort of safe haven for Black women and non-binary people. It’s about having an environment where you can be unapologetically you but also address the issues that affect you most.”

“Many of us were concerned about how different factors can perpetuate domestic violence against Black women. I have personally seen close family members face domestic abuse and how their experience was undermined by cultural and religious influences that are unique to the Black community. This is backed up by data released in 2021 showing that Black women were 14% less likely than white survivors of domestic abuse to be referred by police to Refuge, the UK’s largest single provider of domestic abuse services1.”

Black Girls' Space committee
The BGS Committee 2022–23 (minus Zia Britton, Campaign Officer)

The BGS Committee is now gearing up for its first campaign on domestic violence and is in the process of registering as an official student society of the University of Cambridge. Support from the Master’s Fund and additional funding raised during an event in January will be used to rent video equipment for a multi-generational film about domestic violence – the centrepiece of a new social media campaign – and speaker events and workshops with schools and other partners.

Zoe comments, “The focus for our first year is to execute this new campaign to a high standard and engage new members who can drive future waves of activity. The purpose of the campaign is to trigger meaningful discussion about domestic violence and how it is experienced by Black women and non-binary people. We need to open people’s eyes to the signs of domestic abuse in our communities and ensure there is culturally relevant training for police and other agencies so that survivors get the support they need.

“The BGS team has big ambitions: our long-term vision is to work in-depth across a range of campaign issues and to follow in the footsteps of other student societies that became national charities. We’re in close contact with our new branch at the University of Manchester – BGS Mcr – so the early signs are promising!”

BGS Mcr is enabling students in Manchester to come together in unity, for the community, and for career and personal development. Tessy. E. Idemudia and Esther Akinlosotu explain:

“BGS Mcr was created in response to the need for a safe space for Black women in Manchester to grow and develop together. We offer wellbeing, career and personal development support so that black women feel confident progressing into the following stages of their lives. We deliver this support through socials, networking events, well-being support, career events and annual conference.”

Find out more about BGS on Instagram.



1. Refuge. ‘Press release: Ahead of Black History Month, Refuge calls for better protection for Black women experiencing domestic abuse’. 30 September 2021. Available online: