Monday, March 30, 2015

Indian Muslim Women Praise ‘Imam-e-Hind’ Shri Ram

Indian Muslim Women Praise ‘Imam-e-Hind’ Shri Ram

Muslim women praise ‘Imam-e-Hind’ Shri Ram (Representative photo)

Saudi Women in Security Positions Challenge Stereotypes
Overcoming Challenges: 'Pakistan Girls Have To Walk the Extra Mile'
Syria Trio’s London School Linked to More Girls Trying to Join Daesh
Banned in Kenya, LGBT Film Tells Tales of Taboo Love
IS Female Brigade Packed With British Jihadi Brides and Sex Worker
Saudi Women Voice Their Importance in Times of Instability
Why It's Wrong To Underestimate the Islamic State's Female Recruits
Pittsburgh Muslim Women’s Association Holds Fundraiser for Needy Women
South Africa: Multi-Party Women's Caucus Says SA Must Be Rid of Homophobia
Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2015: Meet the Accomplished Females Who Are Flying High And Mighty
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Indian Muslim Women Praise ‘Imam-e-Hind’ Shri Ram
Binay Singh, TNN | Mar 29, 2015
VARANASI: Several Muslim women here on Saturday offered prayers to Lord Ram on the occasion of Ramnavmi and claimed that he was their imam and Ayodhya was their place of pilgrimage.
"Ayodhya Hai Hamari Ziyaratgah Ka Naam, Rahte Hain Jahan Imam-E-Hind Shri Ram (Ayodhya is the name of our pilgrimage, where our Imam Shri Ram lives)," they recited while praising Lord Ram during Ramnavmi celebrations. The women, associated with the Vishal Bharat Sansthan (VBS), have been celebrating Ramnavmi for years to give a strong message of communal harmony.
Taking the 'Thaal' of Aarti, these women sang in praise of Lord Ram at Varunanagaram Colony, Hukulganj. They also wrote 'Ram Naam' in Urdu on pieces of paper and deposited in 'Rurdu Ram Naam Bank'.
Nazneen Ansari, who has scripted 'Shri Ram Aarti' and 'Shri Ram Prarthana', said: "Lord Ram is the ancestor of all of us. Everyone should take part in his Aarti, breaking the barriers of caste, creed and faith."
Being a Muslim, Nazneen has no hesitation singing in praise of Hindu deity and she believes that the name of Rama is enough to end all adversities. "That's why a bank of 'Ram Naam' in Urdu has also been created by these women at the VBS. Anyone can deposit Ram Naam scripted paper in this bank," VBS founder Rajiv Srivastava said.
"Ram Humare Purvaj Hain Aur Duniya Ke Liye Adarsh Hain. Humein Is Baat Ka Fakhr Hai Ki Hum Ram Ki Santan HainRam Nam Hi Nafrat Mita Sakta Hai (Ram is our ancestor and ideal for the world. We are proud of it. It is the only name which can eliminate hatred)," said Nazneen, who has also translated Hanuman Chalisa into Urdu.
She is working on the translation of Ramcharitmanas after scripting 'Durga Chalisa' in Urdu.
Nazneen also presented a 'Ram-Naami Dupatta' to former central information commissioner O P Kejriwal, who was present on the occasion. Other members like Najma Parveen, Mohammed Azharuddin, Razia Begum, Shams-un-Nisa, Hajra Begum and Bilqis Begum also took part in Ramnavmi celebrations.
They believe that the message from Kashi will be instrumental in bringing peace and communal harmony in other parts of the country and advocate for construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. Nazneen and her fellow members had also sent a petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.
They believe that Ayodhya belongs to Lord Ram and if Muslims want respect from Hindus, they should come forward to build the temple at his birthplace.

Saudi Women in Security Positions Challenge Stereotypes
29 March, 2015
With a growing number of facilities in the Kingdom, a need for female security guards arose. More women are joining this field and are taking their spots in private offices run by women, banks, malls and other social, educational and health facilities.
Warda Al-Yani recently decided to become a guard and says people were sceptical at first, telling her she was taking up a man’s job. Al-Yani said there’s more acceptances of women in this job after many women in this profession have proven their excellence.
However, workers in this domain say this job is not for men alone. “On the contrary, these guards have access to zones men can’t enter like female prayer rooms or toilets,” Khalid Al-Fehaid, manager at a commercial mall, told Arab News.
He said women need to be over 26 years old and have enough confidence to do the job with its security aspects and accompanying problems. “We face sensitive issues like women fainting or fighting, and women security guards are the only people who can deal with these problems, carrying the women or touching them,” Al-Fehaid added.
Economist Fadl Al-Bouainain, said work in security will definitely take Saudi women out of traditional jobs in the health and education sectors and into other fields. He explained that this new direction will give women a greater opportunity to fight unemployment.
Al-Bouainain clarified that the Saudi women have started branching out to include working as lawyers, cashiers, marketing personnel and even in real estate, adding that Saudi women have proved to be up to the new challenge, and “woman’s persistence will lead them to prove their excellence in many fields not only this one,” he added.
“The female security sector will need thousands of women applicants,” he reports, stressing the importance of training to achieve the desired goals and meeting the job’s requirements.
Ali Al-Zahrani, general supervisor in a security company at a commercial mall, told Arab News that more women are applying to work as security guards adding that a majority of them hold university degrees. Al-Zahrani said that some malls have a quota for the number of women they employ.
Khaled Al-Mashaan, owner of a security company in Asir, said that women have proven their excellence in the security field and have shown to be patient amidst the pressure and workload. He has employed women in the security sector at parties, schools, universities and other private events.
Al-Mashaan added that there’s a need to spread awareness in society regarding women working in this job and create an understanding on the nature of the job. “There should be cooperation by all members of the community to achieve success,” he explained.
Fatima Al-Zamil, working security at one of Asir’s malls, said that security guards need to have specific qualities to carry out the difficulties of this job.”A woman in this job needs to have a strong personality and to be bold, patient, quick-witted, smart, detail-oriented and a fun person, and at the same time able to deal with people,” she noted adding that a security guard needs to be able to maintain security which she described as a difficult job.
On the other side, there are many skeptical and unsupportive people, says Security Guard Turkiyyeh Hamed. “We face a lot of underestimation, especially from women who look on us as inferior,” she claimed.
“Sometimes they swear at or criticize us.” Hamed hopes society will accept them working in these positions which will help them perform their duties.

Overcoming Challenges: 'Pakistan Girls Have To Walk the Extra Mile'
29 March, 2015
KARACHI: In an attempt to help Pakistani women overcome challenges to achieve success, Chief Executive Officer of Taneez, Zeenat Saeed, says girls need to convince and impress their parents with their ability to perform well in their places of interest.
“It is for you to prove that you are able and capable to do it,” she said, while addressing a panel discussion organised by the US Consulate, moderated by the Consul General in Karachi Brian Heath and attended by more than 100 women.
Creative Director for FnkAsia Huma Adnan, who was also one of the panellists at the event, added that the child needs to bring the trust element in their parents. “If you are very sure of what you want to do, do that but let your parents know that you will not break their trust.”
Sharing her words of wisdom, Head of Emergency at Jinnah Post Graduate Medical College Dr Seemin Jamali said it’s a man’s world and women don’t have space.
“Dreams do come true but these young girls need to be resilient, work a mile extra,” she said, while motivating the audience.
Adding to the pieces of advises, Chief Executive Officer Teach for Pakistan Noorul ain Masood said you should be able to draw boundaries in a man’s world.
“No means no … I wish someone told me that 10 years ago,” she spelled out.
Masood also underscored the significance of exploring unique character traits in oneself, saying that these can be deployed in a profession, and not just the skills, to show their strengths in a patriarchal society like Pakistan.
Suggestions like coaching and training younger boys to get rid of stereotypes as well as learning various self-defence techniques forming a part of Taekowndo and Karate were also made during the discourse.
Turning the tables, one of the members of the audience said women alone are to be blamed for making men feel more superior and referred to the kind of attitude mothers and sisters adopt towards their sons and brothers respectively.
Singer Tina Sani also said that women fail to work hard and are lazier than men. “They don’t like to work on their own and need constant guidance. Men have the pressure to take it, have a career.”
Appreciating the amount of respect given to women in Pakistani society, Huma said we are privileged than women in other parts of the world and this needs to be acknowledged.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, the US consul general said he is convinced that the discourse has started to generate ideas and it will help more women to engage in workplaces, making Pakistan a stronger nation.

Syria trio’s London school linked to more girls trying to join Daesh
29 March, 2015
LONDON — A group of London teenage girls barred from traveling abroad attend the same school as three others who are thought to have gone to Syria, the High Court has heard.
Last week High Court judge Anthony Hayden barred five teenage girls from going overseas due to concerns they too would flee to Syria to join militants.
He made the girls from east London — two aged 15 and three aged 16 — “wards of court,” a legal move that prevents them leaving the jurisdiction of England and Wales without judicial permission.
He confiscated their passports and also those of a number of adults involved in caring for them, noting that in at least one other case a young girl traveled on a relative’s passport.
Hayden said Friday it could be revealed that four of those girls were pupils at the Bethnal Green Academy in east London.
Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-olds Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, who also went to the school, left their homes in February and flew to Istanbul, from where they are believed to have joined Daesh (the so-called IS) in Syria.
They followed a classmate who left about two months earlier.
“All involved must recognize that in this particular process it is the interest of the individual child that is paramount,” the judge said.
“This cannot be eclipsed by wider considerations of counter terrorism policy or operations, but it must be recognized that the decision the court is being asked to take can only be arrived at against an informed understanding of that wider canvas.”
The British authorities are increasingly concerned by the numbers of young people heading to join militants in Syria, after a string of high-profile cases in recent weeks.
Three teenage boys and a 21-year-old woman were stopped in Turkey in the past week on suspicion of trying to cross the border.
About 700 people are thought to have gone to Syria from Britain, of whom almost half are reported to have returned. — AFP

Banned in Kenya, LGBT Film Tells Tales of Taboo Love
29 March, 2015
London — A schoolgirl struggling with her sexuality is suspended for kissing her classmate. A woman and her partner dream of fleeing home as angry mobs gather to oust gays. A young man walks past a gay bar and says "I could burn them".
These personal accounts from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Kenya inspired the anthology film "Stories Of Our Lives", a centrepiece screening at LGBT film festival BFI Flare, which wraps up on Sunday in London.
Produced by a group of artists, social workers and entrepreneurs in Nairobi called the NEST Collective, the film explores sexual orientation in a country where homosexuality is punishable by law with up to 14 years imprisonment.
While Kenya's anti-gay laws are rarely enforced, the collective knew the film would be a challenge to cast and shoot.
LGBT people in Kenya are routinely abused, assaulted by mobs and even raped by police, vigilantes and organised criminals, rights groups say.
Having spent months conducting interviews across Kenya, the collective, led by director Jim Chuchu, decided to turn some of the collected stories into short films - shot with just one DSLR camera by a team with no training in filmmaking.
"We wanted to do this project for many reasons, but mostly because we wanted to tell stories that are not often heard, stories that characterize the queer experience in Kenya," the collective said.
"Stories Of Our Lives" tells five separate tales of the internal struggles faced by LGBT people in Kenya, and the burden of hiding their sexuality from friends, family and society.
In 'Ask Me Nicely', two schoolgirls are hauled into the headmistress' office and questioned about their "peculiar" relationship. "Which one of you is the man?" she asks of the teenage girls, before suspending them and sending them home.
Another story titled 'Run' focuses on a young man called Patrick who is insulted and savagely attacked by his homophobic friend Kama after visiting a gay bar. "You have a dick, why can't you use it?" Kama screams as he kicks Patrick and threatens to kill him.
The cast and crew chose to remain anonymous during filming due to fears of legal action and personal attacks, only revealing their identity at film's premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in October last year.
Having also screened in Germany, South Africa and the United States, the film has received plaudits worldwide, but unfortunately for the collective, it also drew the attention and ire of the Kenya Film Classification Board.
The board banned the film for showing "obscenity, explicit scenes of sexual activities" and "promoting homosexuality which is contrary to our national norms and values".
While the decision to ban the screening, sale and distribution of the film was predictable, the collective has continued to exhibit their work at festivals around the world.
"We made this film to open dialogue about identities, what it means to be Kenyan, and what it means to be different," the collective said. "By placing a restriction on this film, the board has chosen to delay this inevitable conversation.
"We hope Kenyans will get to see this film one day, because we made it for Kenyans."

IS Female Brigade Packed With British Jihadi Brides and Sex Worker
29 March, 2015
The Islamic State's (IS) female army, called the 'Al Khansaa Brigade' has reportedly been composed of British Jihadi brides and prostitutes.
An activist with the 'Raqqa is being slaughtered silently' resistance group said that, the majority in the brigade were British women, while others were being women of ill-repute, the Daily Star reported.
These women are being paid 1,000 pounds a month, have been given plum apartments and are the only women allowed to drive there. They have enforced strict Sharia laws on females in Raqqa, the regime's capital in Syria.
The International Committee for the Red Cross has warned that IS has been trying to hold water resources in the desert regions for ransom.

Saudi Women Voice Their Importance in Times of Instability
29 March, 2015
RIYADH — Women social activists, writers, and businesswomen voiced their role in forging national unity while weathering instabilities triggered by terrorism or crises surrounding the Kingdom, Al-Riyadh reported.
Social activist Nailah Al-Attar said women in the Kingdom are praying for their families and relatives in Yemen.
“Many may overlook the role women play in times of wars and instabilities. We have a powerful role in such crises. We teach our children that wars and instabilities are an inevitable part of life and we teach them to react sensibly in these situations,” said Al-Attar.
She added that she understood how crucial the role of women is after she attended an international conference on the role of women in war and peace in Paris.
“The speakers at the conference were women who saw the war and the bloodshed through their eyes. They said women are the prosperous aftermath of wars. After the men have fought and wounded one another, it is up to us to come out and build the nation once again,” said Al-Attar. She also added it is very important for women to instill patriotism in their son’s hearts because after the war is over, the children must feel responsible to rebuild their country.
Writer Nabilah Mahjoob said women have a big responsibility to stabilize the household despite the external instabilities.
“Women should teach their children to be loyal to their leadership in order to avoid national revolutions and extremism. We have already witnessed the ramifications of extremism in Syrian, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and many other examples throughout history,” said Mahjoob.
She added the Saudi woman should be thankful to have a leadership, which invests in peace and values stability.
“The Operation Decisive Storm the Kingdom initiated received a sigh of relief from many households in the Kingdom. Women, now, know they can trust their government and focus on building a safe haven for their men,” said Mahjoob.
She also added the weight of building the post-war generation lies on women.
“Let’s not forget the role of women in the Gulf War I. They opened their houses to Kuwaiti families and their role extended beyond preparing the dinner table to raising the next generation. Our absence from the media does not mean our ineffectiveness. We simply never sought the spotlight,” said Mahjoob.
Journalist Dalal Dhiaa said the women’s role is to remind the coming generation that the Kingdom never initiates war but defends the victims of terrorism.
“With war comes destructive rumors spread through social media and women need to be aware of that and warn their children against it. Women need to refer to credible sources of information and know no to believe everything they read on the Internet,” said Dhiaa.
Businesswoman Ghadah Ghazawi said herself and a group of women will launch a social media campaign “We are with you and with our homeland”.
“The campaign is tweets and messages on the importance of our leadership, the great veterans of our nation and the Kingdom’s efforts for national peace. We hope to raise awareness against the negative rumours being spread against our government,” said Ghazawi.

Why It's Wrong To Underestimate the Islamic State's Female Recruits
29 March, 2015
Umm Jihad may very well be who she claims to be, a 20-year-old American university student who was studying business in Virginia until she left to join the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, in Syria.
When she is asked in a private online chat how she should be identified, she sends a photo of four women hanging out of a white Beemer and hoisting AK-47s in the air. Their hair faces and bodies are completely shrouded in black robes and veils so they cannot be identified.
She responds: “Me and some Aussies.”
It is easy to ridicule as the Islamic State equivalent of Girls Gone Wild. Much of the Islamic State’s chatter on social media seems more laughable than serious, leading a CNN host to say last month that the group lured women with kittens, Nutella and emojis. Then CNN’s Carol Costello’s suggestion was then widely mocked by Islamic State supporters.
“There are very facile reductions, especially TV sensationalism of tropes like kittens and Nutella pancakes, and it is really problematic because it is not getting at understanding the nuanced, complex factors that lead women from Western nations to go and join forces with groups like ISIS,” says Jasmin Zine, an associate professor of sociology at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Zine has been researching the impact of the “war on terror” and Islamophobia on identity and citizenship, as well as radicalization among Canadian Muslim youth.
“Highlighting only the absurd glosses over the reasons why women are drawn to the group or the real risks they face,” she said.
Much of what we have learned about the Islamic State comes from its members, although most of what they post online is to praise the group.
The risks of moving into a war zone and being caught between warring factions or aerial strikes are rarely mentioned. In addition, there are reports of sexual abuse or teenage girls forced to move from one husband to another as their fighter husbands are killed.
Clearly what is never mentioned in the propaganda is that joining the Islamic State may be easy — getting out is hard.
Since most online posting is anonymous, it is hard verify identities.
One of the Islamic State’s most influential online voices used to be a Twitter account under the name Shami Witness. Last year, Britain’s Channel 4 uncovered that Shami Witness was not a holy warrior, or pro-ISIS analyst, but a 24-year-old businessman from Bangalore, India, who apparently had a lot of time on his hands.
But if Umm Jihad is not who she purports to be, her statements still echo hundreds of others online and provide insight into what women drawn to ISIS are either reading or writing.
They talk about the Islamic State’s higher calling, the sense of sisterhood and they romanticize their marriages, or becoming young mothers.
Zine says some are driven by a humanitarian impulse, a need to do something in response to Muslim deaths of the so-called war on terror. “It has a lot to do with what’s happening in the world these youths are seeing in alternative media. They see death and destruction in a way the normal consumer of Western media culture doesn’t see because it has been mainly a nameless, faceless war,” she said.
Only a few voices from women inside can be heard online about how bad it can be for these young women. Some complain that there is tension between those from Western countries, versus locals in Syria and Iraq, where the group has declared its Caliphate.
One woman, claiming on Twitter that foreigners are “subjected to mistreatment and discrimination from the locals,” describes an incident where a foreign woman was left to bleed at a hospital during a miscarriage, while doctors tended to local patients.
Most foreign women come from European countries, Australia and, to a lesser degree, Canada and the U.S. Umm Jihad posted a photo on Twitter of four gloved hands holding Canadian, American, Australian and British passports.
“Bonfire soon, no need for these anymore,” she wrote.
A 23-year-old woman from Edmonton is believed to be among the recruits. She reportedly left for the Islamic State last summer after enrolling in an online course to study the Qur’an taught by another woman based in Edmonton, according to a CBC television report.
In January, Shayma Senouci, a girl from the suburbs of Montreal was reported missing to police and is presumed to have left for Syria. Her Facebook account rages against a 2013 proposal by the Quebec government to ban religious symbols and calls Israel's shelling of Gaza last summer a “genocide.”
“How can we stay impassive when faced with this?!!” she wrote last July.
Three other Canadian teenagers also tried last year to join, abruptly leaving their Brampton homes and making it as far as Istanbul, Turkey, before authorities turned them back after being alerted by their parents.
Umm Jihad says she misses nothing about the West and she believes it was her obligation as a Muslim to join the Islamic State. A British woman she met online helped her leave Virginia last November for Raqqa, Syria, where she says she now lives.
When we started talking a couple of weeks ago, she was living alone with her husband, whom she did not identify.
But she said women were happiest when their husbands died in battle and became a shahid, or martyr. The widows then “have to wait four months and 10 days before they’re allowed to leave the house, remarry, go shopping etc.,” she wrote in a text. “It’s not hard because it’s for the sake of Allah and we are happy to observe it . . . When one husband gets martyred, it’s like a celebration.”
The next day, she got her wish, posting on Twitter that her husband, Abu Jihad Al Australi was killed, waxing poetically of his death. “My husband had a dream a week before he went to battle. He dreamt that he got shot in the head and it felt like a pinch,” she wrote.
“He saw a bright light that he was trying to go towards; as he was getting closer n closer to it it got brighter n brighter until he couldn’t . . . handle it. I remember him tell me his dream and laughing.”
If true, she was married to a man from Melbourne, Australia named Suhan Rahman. Photos of his blood-soaked body were posted alongside other fighters killed in clashes with Kurdish fighters earlier this month, including the body of what is believed to be Ahmad Waseem, who was from Windsor and was known by the kunya, or nickname, of Abu Turab al-Kanadi.
Umm Jihad’s posts on Twitter grew more strident after her husband’s death, urging attacks on the West, or “that treacherous tyrant” U.S. President Barack Obama.
But she is polite and conciliatory when answering questions on the social-messaging app KIK, unlike her Twitter account, which was suspended Saturday. When asked about disconnect, she responds: “Oh lol. Not like I can tell u to go kill kuffar,” using the word for the non-believers.
Umm Jihad had earlier made her intentions clear on why she’s responding to a journalist’s questions. “These journalists think they’re using us when they message us nicely,” she wrote last week on Twitter. “Little do they know we’re using them for a means of spreading our Da’wah,” using the Arabic word for an “invitation.”

Pittsburgh Muslim Women’s Association Holds Fundraiser for Needy Women
29 March, 2015
The Muslim Women’s Association of Pittsburgh sponsored a fund­raising event in support of their newly opened Guest House for women.
The association is a Muslim Charitable Association comprised of Muslim women from all over the city. It has been in continuous operation since the1900s.
The Guest House was established to provide temporary housing for needy women and children. It began operating in 2014. It also helps women and children to access resources that meet their needs, such as job training and affordable housing.
Currently, the Muslim women volunteers support the work of the house. The fundraising event was held at Salem’s conference centre located at 2911 Penn Ave., in Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District, on March 14. Dinner was catered by Salem’s. There was a $20 donation payable at the door.
Invited speakers included Adrianne Lane, residential services supervisor from Pittsburgh’s Women’s Centre &  Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh; Susy Robison, director of Outreach and Volunteer Services at the Homeless Children Fund;  and Arshad Hafeez, a  motivational speaker.
Donated funds went to maintain the guest house, provide security  and pay the employees.
The event was open to everyone.

South Africa: Multi-Party Women's Caucus Says SA Must Be Rid of Homophobia
29 March, 2015
The Multi-Party Women's Caucus has emphasised that the South African society needs to be rid of homophobia. A culture of equality must also be promoted.
Committee Chairperson, Ms Masefele Storey Morutoa, said a strong message of tolerance and respect needed to be sent out. Ms Morutoa's response comes after the Committee received a briefing from the Department of Justice on the protection against violence and other human rights violations against persons on the basis of their real or imputed sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Committee also received a briefing from the Department of Health on increasing access to HIV and sexual and reproductive health services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons.
The Committee heard that government intended to introduce the concept of hate crimes into the criminal law. One of the key motivations for the proposed changes to the law, included in a draft policy framework, was the violent targeting of LGBTI persons based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, the so-called "corrective rapes" and murder of lesbian women and transgender men, especially in townships. Other motivators included a number of recent racist attacks, violence against foreign nationals as well as vandalism targeting religious institutions.
Ms Morutoa said the Committee welcomed the policy framework. "It will make hate speech a crime. It will further provide for the development of measures to combat hate crime and unfair discrimination." The Committee expressed serious concerns about the use of word "corrective rape" as this remained rape. The Department of Justice agreed and said that is why they used the term so-called corrective rape.
The Committee further heard that only 14 million female condoms were distributed yearly by the Department of Health compared to the 800 million male condoms. The cost involved in procuring female condoms was highlighted as the reason for this.
Committee members commended the Department of Health for yearly increasing this amount but found the lower number unacceptable as women were a vulnerable group.
For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact:
Name: Rajaa Azzakani
Parliamentary Communication Services
Tel: 021 403 8437
Cell: 081 703 9542

Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2015: Meet the accomplished females who are flying high and mighty
29 March, 2015
Fifty accomplished women, including a stand-up comedian, a TV star and a senior executive at the world’s first Islamic branding agency, have been shortlisted for the 2015 Asian Women of Achievement Awards. Now in its 16th year, the event aims to highlight the often overlooked contribution that Asian women make to sectors including business, sport and culture.
This year’s shortlist includes Shelina Janmohamed, vice-president of Ogilvy Noor, the world’s first Islamic branding agency. Lucy Choi, the entrepreneurial niece of shoe tycoon Jimmy Choo, is also shortlisted, along with Farah Dakhlallah, Arabic spokesperson for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
The awards, which will be held in London on 19 May, were founded by Pinky Lilani, who received an OBE in 2007 for her work to celebrate women’s achievements. Speaking to The Independent on Sunday, she said she set up the Asian Women of Achievement Awards to “break the stereotype that Asian women were just at home, cooking onion pakora. I wanted to find some amazing stories”.
Referring to this year’s shortlist, she said: “What really makes me happy is seeing these women who are hugely talented but are so collaborative, very kind and humble. They all seem so honoured to be involved.”
Social and humanitarian category nominees
Myira Khan
Counsellor, lecturer and founder, Muslim Counsellor & Psychotherapist Network
Ms Khan is a Leicester-based counsellor and founder of the Muslim Counsellor & Psychotherapist Network. She works to break down the stigma attached to mental illness within Muslim and South Asian communities. She was awarded the Mental Health Heroes Award by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg earlier this year.
Parmi Dheensa
Executive director, Include Me TOO
Ms Dheensa set up a national charity dedicated to supporting disabled children from ethnic minorities and their families. She has created a range of initiatives, such as peer and ambassador programmes, to increase  disability awareness within a cultural context.
Kulvinder Kaur
Fostering service manager, Foster Care Associates
Ms Kaur, who qualified as a social worker in 1994, has raised funds for many causes. She slept rough in winter to highlight homelessness, and climbed Kilimanjaro to help young people with experience of care.
Pooja Naidu Kingsley
Manager, Coffey International
Ms Kingsley, a rising star at Coffey’s international development business, ran a £25m peace-building programme in Pakistan. She now runs a programme in Kenya dedicated to improving security for the poor, and reducing violence against women and girls.
Balvinder Sandhu
Doctor, NHS
Ms Sandhu has been a diabetes dietician for the past 17 years, helping make healthcare more accessible for ethnic minority groups. Her work has been recognised by Parliament as an example of best practice. She also leads humanitarian relief agency Khalsa Aid.
Camilla Bowry
Founder, Sal’s Shoes
Founded Sal’s Shoes – a charity that redistributes children’s shoes outgrown by their owners – in 2012. In its first year, Sal’s Shoes collected 4,805 pairs and found new owners in eight countries, including the UK.

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