“Brighter days are ahead” – #IWD2021 celebrations kick off with Sensei Mumtaz Khan

Ruth Peterson | March 4, 2021

International Women’s Day celebrations at Bradford College have kicked off with an inspiring talk by Ju-Jitsu Sensei, sports coach and entrepreneur Mumtaz Khan.

Sensei Mumtaz led the first of Bradford College’s online events to mark the occasion, sharing her story, achievements and advice with staff and students.

Having trained in martial arts for more than 25 years, she spoke about the power everyone holds to create positive change. She said: “Never give up. Things will get better … brighter days are ahead.”

Sensei Mumtaz Khan

Helping women and girls be confident

A multi-award-winning coach who volunteers with Bradford College, Mumtaz holds a 6th degree black belt in Ju-Jitsu and is the founder of Onna Ju-Jitsu Club in Girlington. She has for decades helped thousands of young people to be confident and learn self-defence.

Born in Bradford, she described how she got into Ju-Jitsu by accident. At first, she was told she would be no good anyway at the art anyway as she was a girl. This lit a fire within Mumtaz who thought: “I’ll show you.”

Optimism and hope

Student Union President Marvina Newton asked her for tips on building the mental resilience needed to adapt to change and develop, especially for BAME women. Mumtaz said: “I think you’ve got to have a little bit of optimism, hope, and also be prepared to do something about it … nobody’s perfect, once you let go of that notion you’ve got to be perfect that takes off a lot of pressure.”

She described having low self-esteem when she was much younger but said: “I don’t think people can take power away from you … once you take ownership and stand up when you see something isn’t right, you’re creating a better world not just for yourself but for others as well.” She added: “It does come with practice. Just don’t give up.”


This inspirational talk perfectly set the tone for the line-up of events celebrating International Women’s Day, which this year has the theme #ChooseToChallenge. As part of this, female leaders at Bradford College will provide comments for IWD social media cards on why they choose to challenge.

Her voice is already known to thousands of people across West Yorkshire, but on Monday 8 March BBC Radio Leeds presenter Stephanie Hirst will give a virtual talk on her award-winning TV and radio career.

Noreen Khan

Noreen Khan, the founder of NEESIE, is due to speak on Tuesday 9 March.  The mum, community social engineer and activist will talk about her journey to setting up the grassroots organisation for single mothers.

The following day Barbara Wentworth, a pharmacist, examiner, educator and writer, will share her professional and wide-ranging career, including working in hospital pharmacy and teaching at Bradford College.

Awe-inspiring journeys

On 11 March Dr Sahdia Parveen, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Dementia Studies at University of Bradford, will speak to her audience about her work in healthcare, from her early decisions on study paths to receiving prestigious awards.

And Bradford College is delighted to welcome Lady Phyll as part of its International Women`s Day Celebrations this month. Phyllis Akua Opoku-Gyimah, also known as Lady Phyll, is a British political activist, co-founder of UK Black Pride and executive director of Kaleidoscope Trust.  

Find out more about the events on International Women’s Day Events – Bradford College: Bradford College

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