Last Friday, the Greek International Women Awards were officially launched in the UK from the Scotch of St James .
Regional Chair Cristina, who has been invited to join the international panel of Judges spoke at the event about the importance of such events and shared an insight on her own journey as an architect. Regional Deputy Chair , Marianna Bia, and Head of Education (and contact with the Awards Organisers) Eirini Garoufalia were also in attendance. Here is a transcript of her speech. Below the speech, you will find links to the GIWA press release and criteria.
"Good evening everyone.
As you have heard, my name is Cristina and I am a director and co-founder of atelier EURA a design Studio based in London. I am also the regional chair for NAWIC (the National association of Women in Construction).
NAWIC is a global organisation formalised in 1955, which in the UK is run entirely by volunteers. Independent from other professional institutes , we sit at the heart of the industry facilitating cross-discipline and cross-generational discussions on topics such as Education, Career development or the future of our cities. We are committed to encouraging individuals to pursue, establish and sustain successful careers in the Construction Industry and today, my Deputy Marianna Bia, our Head of Education , Eirini Garoufalia and I are here supporting the launch of the GIWA.
Firstly, allow me to take this opportunity to thank the organisers for inviting me to be part of such a wonderful and relevant initiative.
- Wonderful because women have a tendency to play down their accomplishments getting caught in the day to day and it is wonderful to have awards such as the GIWA prompting them to look back, take stock and celebrate their achievements.
- Relevant because the lack of a female presence at the top of so many sectors (mine included) is signalling to the young there is no room for them at the top. This is not only untrue but it is also problematic for industries such as construction, which are failing to attract the female talent and face a serious skills shortage. I am very excited to be part of these awards because i believe that shining a light over those who are already succeeding, will not only recognise their achievements but will help normalise the presence of women at the top of various industries, reframe people’s minds and kindle the curiosity of younger audiences. And this is important because as they say, it is hard to become what you dont see.
Finally, I would like to share with you what drives me as an architect for it will influence what i will be looking for as a judge in my category The Arts and Design. Architecture was an easy choice for I have always been driven by purpose and I knew that the access to and enjoyment of adequate shelter was a fundamental need of humankind. This interested me.
- Over time, I learnt that architecture, specially in the context of regeneration where i spent ten of my seventeen years career, is as much about politics as it is about anthropology and that the responsibility of architects in particular and designers in general extends beyond design itself. Our work shapes the world we live in and , in return, the world shapes us: Every one of us.
- I also learnt that as a non British female architect, I hold a position with a higher level of visibility from which I can influence the industry by challenging preconceptions and creating opportunities for diversity to thrive. I know this is important because the world is moving at a fast pace and we must learn to adapt. Furthermore, to do so successfully, we require a wide range of problem solvers reflecting the communities we design for and the client bodies we design with.
We are living through times which one may say, defy logic and regularly challenge our core values. Ethics are back in the agenda and design professionals are asked to consider the wider impact of their work. Furthermore, as technology has made culture accessible to the masses, the arts seem to have evolved into the near anthropological studies of our time. It is with this in mind that I look forward to reading through the submissions for my category the Arts and Design where I will look to find purpose/meaning, relevance and context ."
GIWA: Press release and criteria (LINK)