Carlene Firmin, a former pupil at St Michael's Catholic grammar school in Barnet, north London has become the youngest black women to be named in the New Year's Honours List. The senior policy officer at Race on the Agenda (ROTA) and chief executive of the GAG Project, Carlene has been been awarded an MBE for services to girls' and women's issues.
Ms Firmin made headlines when she said that rape is used as “a weapon of choice” in gangs, in a report she authored entitled Building Bridges, for which she received a London Peace Award in 2008.
Just 26, Carlene set up the Gendered Action of Gangs project (GAG) to help young women be empowered to tackle gang and serious youth violence.
Carlene is also the founder of the GAG project. GAG (Gendered Action on Gangs/Girls Against Gangs/Girls Affected by Gangs), empowers gang-affected young women to apply the gender duty in their local areas, and act as local advisors of gender and youth violence issues. This programme has been picked up in other European countries and global forums.
She is committed to addressing inequality and is especially interested in policy and discrimination regarding mental health, education, criminal justice, gender and cross-equalities issues, preparing consultation responses and briefings on a range of social policy issues for both central and regional government.
Carlene gave a presentation on the issue of gender and gangs at the United Nations 54th Convention on the Status of Women in New York in March 2010.
She currently sits on the Women's National Commissions Violence Against Women Working Group and UN Advisory Group, Youth Justice Board's Regional Gangs Forum, the GLA Violence Against Women and Girls Panel, and the MPS Sapphire Reference Group, amongst others, and works with young people across London to inform her policy work.
She has an MSc in Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics and a degree in Philosophy from Cambridge University. Prior to working at ROTA, Carlene had articles published in the Guardian, Pride Magazine, the New Editor and the Voice Newspaper.
After attending St Michael's Catholic grammar school, London she went on to Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, where she earned a BA in philosophy; and then the London School of Economics, where she took an MSc in social policy and planning.
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