Dr Halima Begum

Chief Executive, the Runnymede Trust

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Image of Dr Halima Begum with overlay

Halima is Chief Executive of the Runnymede Trust, the prominent UK civil rights and race equality think tank. A disabled Muslim woman, she was born in rural Bangladesh and raised in a working-class family in East London. It was thanks to a community support campaign in Halima’s Brick Lane neighbourhood that her eyesight was partially saved as a toddler.

Halima has worked tirelessly to achieve equality across minority communities since her teens, co-founding Women Unite Against Racism to challenge the rise of the National Front in the early 1990s. She has gone on to hold leadership roles with organisations including DFID, the British Council and Lego Foundation, supporting minority and disabled communities as far afield as Rwanda and Nepal.

In the last year, her leadership around disability and race has been particularly visible in the judicial review proceedings filed by the Runnymede Trust and Good Law Project against the government over non-competitive senior public appointments, including that of Baroness Dido Harding to COVID Track and Trace. In February, the High Court ruled in favour of Halima and her team, concluding the Health Secretary had breached the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010. This important victory means government can no longer ignore the capacity and competency of our disabled and ethnic minority communities when making senior public appointments.

Halima’s expertise is widely sought, and she currently advises organisations including the British Academy, Nuffield Foundation, ITV and the British Constitutional Review convened by the Institute for Government and the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at Cambridge University.


“As a young child, to get to school I would have to pass the National Front bookstand outside the front door of the East End squat where my family lived. The way that my race, faith and disability were targeted each time I left the safety of my own home, sometimes in the most brutal fashion, gave me the courage and certainty to know that we must always stand up for the dignity and equality of others. I have tried to live by that belief, which seems just as valid now in these complex, challenging times as ever before.”