Celebrating Billericay’s Anita Goyal MBE

Billericay’s Anita Goyal is one of the UK’s leading campaigners for raising awareness and addressing the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), menstrual discrimination and human trafficking.

48-year-old Anita Goyal is the Vice President and honorary lead for the FGM appeal with children’s charity Barnardo’s as well as a Patron of charity Binti International.

Her incredible work on FGM has seen her reach over 3,000 women as well as raise £191,000 for the FGM appeal.

Anita Goyal also holds the position of CEO and trustee of the Hemraj Goyal Foundation and Hallmark Care Homes Foundation and is an Ambassador of the Alzheimer’s Society.

Despite launching her new podcast ‘Relight your Fire’ and finishing off her new book ‘Voices from Gujurat’, CommunityAd were able to catch up with Anita to find out more about her various important roles and discuss how we can put an end to FGM and human trafficking globally.

The work you do is incredibly inspirational and influential, how did your journey towards diversity and female empowerment first start?

There was always pressure for me to achieve well at school and attend university. I eventually became a Science teacher and worked in a reputable girl’s school in Stratford, close to where I was born. I loved teaching and my career spanned over twenty years. Education was my passion in my early thirties, I relocated and eventually progressed to leading my own department as Head of Science and an Assistant Headteacher.

Then tragedy struck, and I lost my first husband when I was 38 years old to a chronic disease and this really put my life into perspective. It was when I met my second husband, who is an award-winning entrepreneur and philanthropist, that my life decided to change direction. When we decided to marry and bring our children together as a blended family, I left teaching and became the CEO of the Hemraj Goyal Foundation. This is the family foundation that my husband founded in 2010, which helps fund 30 charities annually with a focus on women and disadvantaged communities.


What was your initial reaction when you were informed that you were being made an MBE?

I was really surprised. I missed the email at first and it was sitting in my inbox for two days! I was not expecting any recognition for my work, but was equally pleased that people from various communities were championing me. I felt pride – of course – but also gratitude that this could be a platform to further the philanthropic work of our family foundation, and the workshops we run. Both me and my husband are just so passionate about empowering people to live better lives and this award helps me to deliver on that mission even more.


As a pioneer of positive change in diversity and female empowerment, would you say you have seen a progressive change in this over the last 20-30 years?

I feel that we have taken some amazing steps in the right direction to help with female empowerment and rights but there is still a long way to go.

For example, some of the charities I have worked with, such as The British Asian Trust and Binti have done some amazing work as well as the Cherie Blair Foundation for women; I have seen some incredible transformational work with females.

The British Asian Trust have supported over 180,000 young women and children in India who were particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation; through resilience building and rehabilitation they have helped to empower them to have a better life. However, there are still 150,000 new instances of human trafficking in South Asia every year. Among them are tens of thousands of young women and children are being forced into labour in dangerous conditions.

With Binti, UK’s first period charity, I have been involved as a Patron over the past four years and I am proud to share that they have driven such incredible change around menstruation, helping to empower thousands of girls and women. Every month, girls in the UK face period poverty: two fifths (40%) have had to use toilet roll because they can’t afford proper menstrual products and this was made even worse during the national lockdown as periods don’t stop in pandemics. Plan UK reported that 49% of girls in the UK have missed an entire day of school because of their period. And now that schools have re-opened, no-one should be held back from accessing education due to their period.

Organisations have campaigned tirelessly working closely with the government and in 2019 it was announced that the government would provide free menstrual products to all primary and secondary schools in the UK. In the March 2020 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the tampon tax was to be abolished from 1st January 2021. Finally, it was announced that in September 2020, a mandatory part of health education would be that all boys and girls in primary and secondary state funded schools would be taught about periods, menstrual wellbeing and menopause.


What more do you think needs to be done to rid FGM and human trafficking from the world?


This issue requires sensitive handling if we are to persuade families, communities and religious leaders that FGM is not a necessary part of a girl’s coming of age ritual and, ultimately, that it will no longer be accepted or tolerated. I am however, delighted that the new Relationship and Sex Education programme for secondary schools now addresses the physical and emotional damage caused by female genital mutilation (FGM). Students will be taught where to find support and that it is a criminal offence to perform or assist in the performance of FGM or fail to protect a person for whom you are responsible from FGM.

Furthermore, in the wider context, the aim should be to continue to work with parents, community leaders, government authorities and multiagency to raise awareness, transform behaviour and put an end to harmful traditional practices in the UK. We should unite to end FGM so girls can make decisions about their own sexual and reproductive health and well-being.

A key part of this is to ensure young people are given a voice and to involve them, especially girls, by empowering them to claim their rights back to a safer and more fulfilled life.

End Human Trafficking

Nearly 1 in 10 children are subjected to child labour worldwide, with some forced into hazardous work through trafficking. There are a number of ways to end this type of human trafficking from the world. I am currently working with the British Asian Trust to support them in some ways, here is some of the work we are supporting:

  1. Over 18,000 children and young women in India, who were particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation, have been supported through resilience building and rehabilitation
  2. A child labour awareness campaign has been launched in Jaipur
  3. They engaged over 1000 businesses and business leaders to champion child labour free practices
  4. By introducing a Child Labour Free certification for craft and other products made in Jaipur.


CommunityAd congratulates Anita Goyal on her MBE! Listen to Anita’s ‘Relight your Fire’ on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and OwlTail. Also, keep an eye out for her upcoming book ‘Voices from Gujarat’ which ‘captures the stories of twenty-one prominent and influential Gujarati women’.

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