Bob Hepple Equality Award 2016 - Awardee and Speakers

The Awardee

Professor Anna Lawson

Professor Anna Lawson

Anna Lawson, who was the first blind female professor of law in the UK, teaches human rights, equality law and disability rights at Leeds University. She directs the Centre for Disability Studies based at Leeds University -  an international leader in the field of disability studies which draws increasing interest and exchange in research from around the world. She is also Co-ordinator of the University’s newly established Disability Law Hub which brings together one of the largest groups of disability law academics in the world. Her research focuses on disability equality and human rights at the international, European and domestic levels.

She has worked closely with the European Commission, particularly in her capacity as a board member of the Academic Network of Experts on Disability, and she has also worked with the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the Secretariat of the Council of Europe. She is currently a member of the statutory Disability Committee of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and holds advisory positions with Justice, China Vision and Business Disability International. She is currently a member of a number of national and international disability organisations and has previously been the chair of CHANGE, and a trustee of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre and various local organisations. 


Justice Kate O'Regan

Justice Kate O'Regan

During the 1980s Justice Kate O’Regan practised as an attorney in Johannesburg, specialising in labour law and land rights law and she acted for trade unions, anti-apartheid organisations and communities facing threat of evictions under apartheid land policy. She holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and 1988, she joined the University of Cape Town Labour Law Unit as a researcher.  She was advisor to the African National Congress on land claims legislation and to the National Manpower Commission on gender equality law.   

In 1994 she was appointed as the youngest ever judge and as one of only two women to South Africa’s Constitutional Court. There she wrote many important judgments such as Premier, Mpumalanga and Bato Star v Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism covering a wide range of important subjects.  From 2008 – 2012 she served as chairperson of the UN’s Internal Justice Council. Since 2012 she has acted as judge of the Namibian Supreme Court, she has sat on the boards of many human rights and legal organisations and she has continued her interest in academic teaching and is an honorary professor at the University of Cape Town. She is also inaugural Director of the Oxford Bonavero Institute of Human Rights. 


Saphieh Ashtiany 

Saphieh AshtianySaphieh Ashtiany is the Chair of the Equal Rights Trust and Honorary Vice President of the Industrial Law Society. 

She is a lawyer and principal of Ashtiany Associates a boutique firm that advises public, private and not-for-profit bodies on equality and employment law issues. She has written published extensively on issues of discrimination law and positive action. 

In 2009, she was the co-winner of the ‘Professional of the Year’ award, in the prestigious Asian Women of Achievement Award recognising Asian women in the UK. She has also made a contribution to the understanding of migrant and refugee issues as a UK refugee counsellor appointed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. She is a Visiting Professorial Fellow at Queen Mary University of London.