High flying Asian women who have battled to overcome obstacles in business, the professions, sports and culture recognised at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2014 in association with the Royal Bank of Scotland.
A leading fertility expert was one of 17 women recognised for their outstanding careers at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards last night (Wednesday 4 June) attended by guests including awards patron Cherie Blair, Her Royal Highness Princess Badiya bint El Hassan and Elizabeth Hurle
Professor Geeta Nargund, consultant, medical director and CEO at St George’s Hospital, Create Health Clinics and Create Health Foundation, was presented with the RBS AWA Chairman’s Award, the most prestigious accolade of the awards. Geeta was recognised for her work in the fertility field, and her potential to have such a huge impact not just domestically, but globally, as she works to make treatments more readily available to women.
An internationally renowned doctor, innovator and campaigner who is committed to making fertility treatment safer and more affordable both in the UK and in developing countries, the judges were left with no doubt that Geeta deserved the highest award on account of the results she’s already achieved as well as her determination to keep doing more.
Taking home the Asian Woman of Achievement in Finance Award was Valerie Dias. Having achieved so much in her career at Visa Europe, she uses her position in finance to make a real difference in the wider world, using her organisation as a vessel through which she has been able to safeguard children and young people. The judges said “aside from her work at Visa, she is an incredibly generous person with her time and does a great deal of mentoring and voluntary work”.
Samera Ashraf took the Asian Woman of Achievement in Sport Award in recognition of the tremendous battle she has fought against stereotypes to cement her position within the martial arts community. Samera has overcome significant adversity in her life to get to where she is today, and is now committed to helping others, particularly through her work with Shakti Women’s Aid.
Founded by India-born author and entrepreneur Pinky Lilani OBE in 1999, and held in association with The Royal Bank of Scotland, the Asian Women of Achievement Awards are the most important and established programme to recognise the contribution of Asian women to Britain’s economy and society.
The other winners were:
Entrepreneurial Asian Woman of Achievement – Shazia Saleem, founder, ieat foods, a “very commercially aware” businesswoman who started her first enterprise at the age of 16, she has launched a range of traditional British and Italian halal dishes.
young Asian Woman of Achievement – Divya Reddy, production technologist, Shell UK, for being “a trailblazer in a male dominated industry”, and Nehal Bhogaita, community support worker and beauty therapist, Action Deafness and Femi Health and Beauty, who was highly commended for having dedicated her life to inspiring people with disabilities.
Asian Woman of Achievement in Sport – Joint winners, Shehneela Ahmed, lawyer football agent, Platinum FA, for being “an enabler within the sports industry” and Samera Ashraf, Kickboxer, ISKA.
Asian Woman of Achievement in the Media – Poorna Bell, lifestyle editor, The Huffington Post, for her hard work in highlighting and campaigning on issues such as forced marriage and domestic violence amongst the Asian community.
Professional Asian Woman of Achievement – Yee Yee Low, senior concept engineer, Shell, who demonstrates real self-motivation and drive and has a clear focus on helping people in the UK who haven’t got access to opportunities, or don’t think they have, to achieve great things for themselves.
Social and Humanitarian Asian Woman of Achievement – Sharmila Nikapota, for her commitment to helping her daughter and others suffering from rare skin disorders. Highly commended in this category was Rewati Prabhu, co-founder and board member, Jagriti Yatra, who’s amazing work for Jagriti Yatra helps inspire young women from across India.
Asian Woman of Achievement in Arts and Culture – Nisha Tandon, executive director at ArtsEkta, one of the only organisations in Ireland promoting ethnic arts, culture and heritage; and Arumina Kumar, artistic director, Arumina Kumar Dance Company was highly commended.
Asian Woman of Achievement in Public Service – Shemiza Rashid, teacher and broadcaster, Luton Sixth Form, for fighting for ethical, environmental and poverty-driven issues.
Asian Woman of Achievement in Business – Karina Govindji, managing consultant, client development, Gallup, who has overcome many difficulties in her personal life to carve out a very successful career, whilst remaining passionate about giving back to her local community; Kamal Parmar, director, Saints of Tarporley Services, was highly commended for building a very successful business against all the odds.
Asian Woman of Achievement in Finance – Valerie Dias, chief officer, risk and compliance, Visa Europe and highly commended within the finance category was Laura Chow, head of charitable programmes, RBS, described as “very impressive” and someone who “is using banking for social justice.”
Pinky Lilani said: “Being able to shine a light on the magnificent achievements made by these women is what the awards are really about. I am delighted to see that the calibre of women being nominated for, and winning, the Asian Women of Achievement Awards has remained so high for the 15th consecutive year. It’s so important that we continue to recognise the often under-reported work that is being done by the impressive female leaders in the country’s Asian communities, and it’s for this reason, I’m delighted to bring together so many people who are dedicated to celebrating the achievements of these amazing women.”
Cherie Blair, patron of the Asian Women of Achievement Awards, said: “Each of the women named as a winner on the night showed something special that really caught the judges’ eyes. Covering diverse topics from finance and business to sports and media, the awards are a great way to recognise the huge impact that these women are having in their field.”