Chi Onwurah

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Chi Onwurah
MP
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chi Onwurah MP (5981056622).jpg
Bola Tinubu and Chi Onwurah
Member of Parliament
for Newcastle upon Tyne Central
Incumbent
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Jim Cousins
Majority 7,466 (21.9%)
Personal details
Born (1965-04-12) 12 April 1965 (age 49)
Wallsend, Northumberland (now Tyne and Wear), England
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Website www.chionwurahmp.com

Chi Onwurah[1] (born 12 April 1965)[2] is a British Labour Party politician, who was elected at the 2010 general election as the Member of Parliament for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, replacing the previous Labour MP Jim Cousins, who decided to step down and left the seat.[3] She is Newcastle's first black MP.[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

During the depression of the 1930s, Onwurah’s maternal grandfather was a sheet metal worker in Tyneside shipyards. Her mother grew up in poverty in Garth Heads on Newcastle’s quayside. Her father, from Nigeria, was working as a dentist while he studied at Newcastle Medical School when they met and married in the 1950s.

After Chi was born in Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne, in 1965, her family moved to Awka, Nigeria when she was still a baby. Just two years later the Biafran Civil War broke out bringing famine with it, forcing her mother to bring the children back to Newcastle, whilst her father stayed on in the Biafran army.[4]

Onwurah went on to gain a degree in Electrical Engineering from Imperial College London in 1987.[5] She worked in hardware and software development, product management, market development and strategy for a variety of mainly private sector companies in a number of different countries – Britain, France, US, Nigeria and Denmark while studying for an MBA at Manchester Business School.

Prior to becoming an MP she was Head of Telecoms Technology at OFCOM, with a focus on broadband provision.

Political career[edit]

Onwurah was very active in the Anti Apartheid Movement, and spent many years on its National Executive, and that of its successor organisation, ACTSA. She also joined the Advisory Board of the Open University Business School. Onwurah supported Ed Miliband in the 2010 Labour Party leadership election.[6] Miliband appointed Onwurah as a junior shadow minister for Business, Innovation and Skills on 10 October 2010. In 2013 she stepped up to an enhanced role as a Shadow Minister in the Cabinet Office.

In February 2014, Onwurah spoke in a parliamentary debate she had called on gender-specific toy marketing and lent her support to the campaign Let Toys Be Toys, telling the House of Commons:

“Before entering Parliament, I spent two decades as a professional engineer, working across three continents. Regardless of where I was or the size of the company, it was always a predominantly male, or indeed all-male, environment, but it is only when I walk into a toy shop that I feel I am really experiencing gender segregation.”[7]

She later told Kira Cochrane, a reporter for UK Newspaper The Guardian, that she believes the limiting of children by gender stereotypes is a serious economic issue, with the proportion of female students on engineering degree courses having fallen from 12% to 8% in the thirty years since she had started studying for one herself. She said: "We have some big economic problems, and one is a huge skills shortage in engineering and technology. There are thousands of jobs going unfilled, and in addition a lot of our engineers are in their 50s and retiring in the next five years. At the same time we have the lowest proportion in Europe of women who are professional engineers. […] Toys are so important and formative, and for me this is about the jobs of the future, about what happens in 10 or 15 years' time. We can't go on with a segregated society."[8]

Personal life[edit]

Outside of politics Onwurah enjoys music, reading and long walks in the countryside .[citation needed] She is also a supporter of Newcastle United FC.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The London Gazette: no. 59418. p. 8738. 13 May 2010.
  2. ^ "Chi Onwurah". Democracy Live. 
  3. ^ "Election 2010: Results". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  4. ^ "Labour Party website". Archived from the original on 2010-11-03. Retrieved 2010-11-03. 
  5. ^ "Chinyelu Onwurah". Telegraph. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  6. ^ Why I'm supporting Ed Miliband Chi Onwurah, 27 July 2010
  7. ^ Hansard (5 February 2014). House of Commons debate: ‘Children’s Toys (Gender–specific Marketing)’, col. 138WH. accessdate=29 November 2014
  8. ^ Cochrane, Kira (22 April 2014). "The fightback against gendered toys". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  9. ^ On His Way To Wembley, Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, UK), July 15, 2011 Friday, A; Pg. 22, 358 words, Alastair Craig

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Jim Cousins
Member of Parliament for Newcastle upon Tyne Central
2010–present
Incumbent