Photo of Marije Davidson

Marije Davidson

“Marije Davidson is a life-long champion of human rights whose passion for challenging prejudice has made a significant impact on the voluntary sector, national government and in higher education, where she has worked to support a more diverse, inclusive and accessible community.”

Who have you helped?

“Marije’s UK career began with the Royal National Institute for Deaf People before moving to what is now Disability Rights UK.  Since joining York St John University (YSJU), she has continued to raise the profile of equality and diversity work, making a substantial difference for students and staff at YSJU and the wider community.

Marije is an active and campaigning volunteer, including in her role as an elected member of the Liberty Policy Council. Locally, she has campaigned to make the voices of deaf and disabled people heard by bringing them together and challenging local authorities.

She has recently become Chair of York Independent Living Network (YILN), having previously led campaigns and activities to address hate crime, and sits on the York Fairness and Equalities Board.”

What’s worked?

“As Policy and Research Manager for Disability Rights UK, Marije was directly involved in influencing government policies and strengthening disabled people’s voice in policy making.

Marije also supported the All-Party Parliamentary Disability group in strategy development and delivery. She has been at the forefront of shaping equalities legislation and fighting threats to weaken it.

For example, she co-authored the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s guide to the UN Disability Rights Convention and worked to secure disabled people’s freedom to move whilst keeping their care and support.

At York St John University, Marije has developed and supported the LGBT Staff Network which led to the University featuring in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index as one of the top 100 employers for three years running.

Her work in this area continues to influence the student and staff experience by making LGBT inclusivity visible to all and increasing the number of staff prepared to disclose their sexuality. It also impacts on the wider community by ensuring the University is seen as a leading player in LGBT equality rights within the city.

In recent months, she has been developing the University’s Trans-inclusive framework, working with external stakeholders to ensure that trans voices are heard in the development of internal policies and embedding YSJU’s role in the community as a place where all individuals can flourish.”

What have you learned? Any challenges?

“Raised in the Netherlands, Marije has never allowed her deafness to define or limit her achievements and has the dedication to overcome obstacles and forge new ways to change policy and improve lives. Challenges have included tackling prejudice and daring to question the status quo for the benefit of others.”

What’s next?

“Marije is leading on the development of an Equality & Diversity strategy at York St John which will define the University’s commitment for the future.

Marije has also joined Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s York Committee as a volunteer, where she will help make grants to organisations to help improve the quality of life in York, with particular regard for those who are experiencing or affected by poverty and disadvantage:

What advice, contacts or resources would help?

“Marije will be leading on a key strategic priority for the university to ensure black and minority ethnic staff have a voice. This will include finding ways to work better with the wider BAME community.

Any access to relevant networks specialising in race equality and influencers in BAME equalities would be particularly helpful.”

Why we’re sharing these stories

An individual or organisation from each of our five categories will be recognised at our Igniting Inspiration recognition event in November, but we want to publish all relevant stories to spread awareness of all the positive work that goes on in the North!

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