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News ->Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2005

(26 May 2005)

Prince Charles and The Duchess of CornwallThe Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall paid tribute to the success of Asians in Britain at The Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2005 ceremony on Thursday 26 May 2005 in London. Among the guests were patrons Cherie Booth QC and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC; Baroness Susan Greenfield, Rt Hon Tessa Jowell, Minister for Women, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Chairman of the judges Julie Mellor, Nancy Dell'Olio - representative for the British Red Cross, actress Meera Syal who hosted the evening and His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma, High Commissioner of India.

Pinky Lilani, founder of the Asian Women of Achievement Awards with The Duchess of Cornwall.The brainchild of Pinky Lilani, The Asian Women of Achievement Awards applaud and celebrate the commitment, dedication and determination of Asian women to their professional and personal achievements within the commercial, professional, artistic and humanitarian sectors. This year 46 finalists were selected across eight different Award categories. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall spent over an hour chatting to the nominees at a champagne reception before the start of the Awards Ceremony.

Nancy Dell'Olio in an outfit by India's hottest designer, Rohit Bal.To honour Asian women, many of judges and guests dressed in Asian outfits. The Duchess of Cornwall wore a turquoise silk suit featuring a long skirt and tailored jacket matched with a sheer chiffon shawl and turquoise and diamond earrings. Cherie Booth QC wore a lilac trouser suit featuring hand embroidery, but Nancy Dell'Olio stole the show in a white sari suit by India's hottest designer, Rohit Bal. Specially adapted for Nancy, the sari suit was straight from Bal's Lakme Indian Fashion Week catwalk show held only a few weeks earlier. Complete with hand-stitched headgear Nancy said that the outfit was a departure from her usual style that could well see her favouring the Indian Designer for other events in her role as a Ambassador for the British Red Cross.

Cherie Booth QCCherie Booth QC said "All the women shortlisted for this evening's awards share energy, determination, imagination and sheer hard work. Asian women often have a huge commitment to the cultural values of the countries of their origin. Once again this year, I am struck by how family values play a significant part in your achievements. In a world where we all struggle to balance work and life, there are many important lessons to be heard from this evening's awards."



Bushra NasirThe 'Professional of the Year' award was given to Bushra Nasir, one of the most inspirational teachers in the UK today. She was the first Muslim female lead teacher of a secondary comprehensive school and has successfully raised the achievement of Plashnet School for Girls. Bushra is also on the General Teaching Council of England and is currently president of the Muslim Teacher's Association. Her book 'Breaking Stereotypes' looks at the experiences and challenges faced by black and Asian Leaders

Among the nominees were Farmida Bi, Kim Hollis QC, Dr Rasieka Jayatunga, Ruby Parmar and Yasmin Waljee.


Shaheen AliShaheen Ali who is professor of law at the University of Warwick was awarded the AWA Public Sector Award 2005. She was previously the first female professor of law in Pakistan; the first woman to become a government minister in the North West Frontier Province and the first female Pakistani to become a professor of law in the UK. She is a recognised expert on gender and human rights in Islam and international law. Her expertise is acknowledged by a range of international bodies from whom she acts as a consultant and she is currently a member of the British Council taskforce for gender and development.

Nominees in this category included: Professor Jikyeong Kang, Zarin Patel, Mei Sam Lai, Sashi Sivaloganathan and Rosa Wilkinson.


Nighat AwanEntrepreneur of the Year was awarded to Nighat Awan OBE, the driving force behind the Shere Khan Group which comprises restaurants, food services and food products. An entrepreneur and charity fund-raiser Nighat has overcome a formidable array of health problems including near-fatal throat cancer. She has been in business since the age of 18 when she took charge of her own garment factory. She has been a serial entrepreneur since establishing the Je T'Aime chain of fashion boutiques and the Suki International florists business, which she eventually sold to Interflora. Her mantra in life and business is "health is wealth".

Nominees in this category included: Alice Cheung, Radhika Harjani, Sujata Jolly, Shainul Kassam and Kavita Oberoi.


Lopa Patel. Image courtesy of Sadrudin Verjee. ©Media Professional of the Year was awarded to Lopa Patel, Editor of From its humble beginnings as a small cookery site in 2001, has become the leading lifestyle portal for British Asians, offering a combination of news, entertainment, lifestyle articles and opinion pieces. It the only female-owned Asian website, entirely self-financed, battling for equality within the community and fair representation outside of it. In addition to being a thorough journalist, she is also an articulate spokeswoman for the British South Asian community. The site now has more than 40,000 users every month.

Nominees in this category included: Anila Baig, journalist for 'The Sun', documentary filmmaker Ruhi Hamid, Rita Payne, Asia Editor for BBC World and Navdip Raman, Commissioning Editor from Channel 4.


Jyoti MunsiffThe 'Business Woman of the Year' Award went to Jyoti Munsiff, Corporate General Counsel and Company Secretary at Shell. She has one the most senior jobs within Shell globally, and is Shell's highest ranking female employee worldwide. Born in Mumbai, Jyoti joined Shell in 1969 in the legal department. Since then she has worked in almost every Shell business and function all over the world. In the mid eighties, Jyoti was invited to be Secretary and to the then committee of Managing Directors, which was the top leadership team that manages Shell businesses in more than 140 countries globally.

Among the nominees were: Monica Fan - Managing Director and Global Head of Foreign Exchange Research at RBC Capital Markets, Dr Surinder Hundal - Head of Global Internal Communications at Nokia and Rhodora Palomar-Fresnedi, Vice President of Global Diversity Management at Unilever.


Kristine Landon-Smith and Sudha Bhuchar receiving their award from Tessa Jowell.The Arts & Culture Award was given to Sudha Bhuchar and Kristine Landon-Smith of Tamasha Theatre Company. Together they have formed a unique company that has played a key role in bringing the Asian experience to the forefront of British Theatre. Tamasha has been going for 16 years and their production successes include 'East is East', 'Balti Kings', 'Fourteen Songs, Two Weddings and a Funeral' and 'Strictly Dandia'. Kristine and Sudha have created a virtuous circle of development and professional success. As top actress and comedienne Nina Wadia puts it "Show me a successful British Asian actor and I'll show you someone who's probably been through Tamasha".

Nominees in this category included: Gupreet Bhatti - Playwright, Luftun Hussain, Joginder Kundi, Vina Ladhwa and Deborah Sathe and the women of BBC Asian Network ('Silver Street').


Ayesha HazarikaAyesha Hazarika was awarded the 'Young Achiever of the Year' title. She works as a chief business co-ordinator to the chairman and CEO of EMI groups, handling government, media and investor relations, boardroom issues, charity, the environmental agenda and global music piracy. And by night she is a comedienne! She started performing stand-up comedy in 2002 and what first started out as a hobby became a big part of her life, culminating in performances at the Edinburgh festival, and on BBC2, ITV and BBC 4's Women's Hour. Together with Lynn Parker, they staged the first International Women's Day on March 8 2004, raising £5,000 for victims of domestic violence.


The 'Social & Humanitarian' category was jointly awarded to Sheetal Mehta and Jasvinder Sanghera.

Sheetal MehtaSheetal Mehta recently left a high-profile job at Microsoft, as director of business development for venture capital relations, to pursue a PhD in Social Venture Capital and Value of Community-held intellectual Property. Today, as president of Digital Partners she is launching a social venture capital fund to help women globally, especially in developing countries, to leverage emerging technology for the building and ownership of local businesses for which they will own the intellectual property. Sheetal, a remarkable, socially conscious person, is also involved in a host of other charitable ventures.

Jasvinder Sanghera, a mother of three, is the Asian affairs manager for the national domestic violence charity 'Refuge', and one of the most prominent female figures in her field. She herself ran away from home as a 15-year-old when faced with an arranged marriage to someone she had never met. After eight years of hiding, and being disowned by her family, she returned to her home town of Derby, and after 12 years of education went to Derby University. Since then, she has bravely devoted her life to raising awareness of the complex issue of domestic violence, often in the face of personal and community adversity.


Shami ChakrabartiThis year's Lloyds TSB AWA Award was given the Shami Chakrabarti, Director of of Liberty. A barrister, Shami became director of the human rights organisation Liberty in 2003. Born in London in 1969, she is married with one son. She joined Liberty in September 2001, and spent the next two years campaigning against anti-terrorist measures brought in after 9/11. She writes and speaks on the need to create a "culture of respect for human rights" and maintains a high media profile.

Julie Mellor with Tessa Jowell MP, Minister for Women.Chairman of the Judges, Julie Mellor said about the Asian Women of Achievement Awards, "I know from our work at the Equal Opportunities Commission' that confidence and aspirations are raised when people see someone such as themselves in a job that the thought they could never do themselves. For example, the career decisions of young Pakistani and Bangladeshi women, who are doing increasingly well in education, will be greatly influenced by the profile of women such as them who are already achieving in all walks of life. All the nominees for these awards are inspiring because they have succeeded in making a mark."

Click here for the AWA Awards 2005 picture gallery.


Click here to read about Pinky Lilani, founder of the AWA Awards.
Click here for the AWA Awards 2005 finalists.
Click here for the AWA Awards 2004 winners
Click here for the AWA Awards 2004 picture gallery.
Click here to read about the AWA Awards 2004 finalists
Click here to read about AWA Awards 2003 winners.
Click here to read about the AWA Awards 2003 shortlist.
Click here to read about AWA Awards 2002 winners.
Click here to read about the AWA Awards 2002 shortlist.
Click here to read about AWA Awards 2001 winners.
Click here to read to about the AWA Awards 2001 shortlist.


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