"I can only hope that I can be a positive role model for young girls today"
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get nominated, shortlisted and then win,” shares Anoushé Husain on her win at the Asian Women of Achievement (AWA) Awards 2017.
Taking home the prestigious trophy for Sport, the para-climber and cancer survivor is just one of the many women recognised at the glamorous ceremony held on 10th May at the London Hilton on Park Lane.
Founded by Pinky Lilani CBE DL, the annual awards in association with NatWest recognises Asian women from all walks of life. Including Business, Media, Sport, Science and Technology and Public Service.
Anoushé is undoubtedly a role model for others. Having overcome so many hurdles and challenges in her personal life, she is using her achievements to promote positivity through mentoring and charity work:
“Winning this award is a huge honour and very humbling. I had seen a colleague nominated for it two years ago and thought to myself, maybe I would get nominated in 15-20 years time if I had an incredibly successful career. Frankly, I think it will take a little while to properly sink in,” Anoushé tells DESIblitz.
Now in its 18th year, it is clear that the Asian Women of Achievement Awards is a vital platform to support ethnic women in British society. All of the winners are picked on their ability to inspire and spread a positive change in their fields.
Husain is joined by many other equally inspiring Asian women. Sunaina Sinha, winner of the Entrepreneur Award, is described by the judges as a “great example of a 21st-century leader”. She is the only female founder of a private equity advisory business in Europe (Cebile Capital).
It is not often that Asian women can tackle gender taboos and social stigma by simply using their voice. Jaspreet Sangha is one of them. The History teacher and spoken word artist from East London took home the Arts and Culture Award. Sangha openly speaks about key issues affecting Asian women in society in her poetry:
“I am incredibly grateful to the judges and the Asian Women of Achievement Awards chaired by Pinky Lilani for recognising the work that I have been doing to tackle gender inequality, taboo issues and mental health stigma. They recognised the time and energy I put into my writing, my shows, my talks, the workshops and the charity work all whilst being a full-time History teacher,” Jaspreet tells DESIblitz.
“Growing up, there were hardly any Asian female role models that I could look up to other than the women in my family. I can only hope that I can be a positive role model for young girls today. I want to show them that hard work, passion, purpose and perseverance will allow you to achieve anything that you believe.”
All of the winners hope that their awards will help inspire other women to achieve their dreams. In particular, Jaspreet is sure that it will raise awareness of gender taboos that many Asian women face:
“Since the beginning of time, women’s voices have been suppressed across the world. And only now, after generations of protest and struggle have women’s voices started to be heard. But for women of colour, the struggle for a voice has been even more difficult.”
“Women still get ignored. Women still get talked over. Women who speak up are often penalised, labelled pushy, or bossy, or the ‘b’ word.
“So, it’s up to us as women to help create spaces so that women can share their voice. We need women helping women, and encouraging each other’s voices.
“I think of our immigrant mothers who didn’t have a voice, I think about the unborn or abandoned daughters, I think about the women in countries where women are still killed for having a voice. I do not believe that we have to shout to be heard. But we do have to find our voices, use them clearly, choose our venues, and construct our messages so we may inspire positive change.”
Anoushé shares Jaspreet’s sentiments and offers some very sound advice to young girls who want to make it in sport:
“In sport and in anything you try in life where you are a beginner, don’t expect to be good at the thing you try when you are new. Don’t worry about making mistakes.
“If you enjoy what you are doing and it makes you happy, then, in time, with effort, practice and patience you will get better. Don’t worry about looking awkward, everyone looks awkward doing sports, even the professionals! The most important thing is that you enjoy yourself.”
Here is the full list of winners of the Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2017:
ARTS & CULTURE
Jaspreet Sangha (Behind the Netra), Spoken Word Artist and Teacher, St Marylebone School
Raj Dohil, Talent Acquisition Specialist, Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Sunaina Sinha, Founder and Managing Partner, Cebile Capital
Shay Grewal, Presenter, BBC
Vidisha Joshi, Managing Partner, Hodge Jones & Allen LLP & Vandita Pant, Group Treasurer and Head of Europe, BHP Billiton
Dr Harjinder Kaur, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager and Gender Advisor, PwC
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Professor Sadaf Farooqi, Professor of Metabolism and Medicine, University of Cambridge
SOCIAL & HUMANITARIAN
Sofia Buncy, Prisoner Rehabilitation and Community Development Coordinator, Muslim Hands UK
Anoushé Husain, Para-Climber
Anoushka Babbar, Head of Regulatory Policy and Government Relations, London Stock Exchange Group
NATWEST AWA CHAIRMAN’S AWARD
Fatima Zaman, Prevent Officer, Home Office and London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Also highly commended by the judging panel at AWA 2017 were:
Abda Khan (Arts & Culture), Dawinder Bansal, (Media), Tanya Laird (Science & Technology), Dr Rouba Mhaissen (Social & Humanitarian), and Mimi Harker OBE (Public Service).
The awards were presented in front of a star-studded crowd. Special guests included the likes of Princess Badiya bint El Hassan of Jordan, the Home Secretary Rt. Hon. Amber Rudd MP, Datuk Jimmy Choo OBE, and the Shadow Home Secretary Rt. Hon. Diane Abbott MP.
Overall, the Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2017 was an inspiring evening showcasing some truly incredible women. If we go away with anything, it is that realising hopes, dreams and success is never an impossibility.
Congratulations to all the winners!