Shani Dhanda is the founder of the UK's first ever Asian Woman Festival, smashing stereotypes and stigma to empower and celebrate Asian Women through culture, art and conversation
© Photo by Sophie Mayanne
With her passion for creating everyday equality, Shani is a business and culture change agent, social entrepreneur and disability rights advocate.
Shani is the founder of The Diversability Card, the UK’s first official discount card for disabled people, helping to reduce the financial pressure faced due to the extra costs of living with a disability.
As part of her efforts to challenge perceptions and change attitudes around disability, Shani founded the Asian Disability Network to provide support and education to the Asian community on disability matters.
She works with Virgin Media as a disability programme manager, transforming the experience for their disabled employees and customers. Prior to this, Shani was an event manager for over 10 years and has recently founded the UK’s first Asian Woman Festival, smashing stereotypes and stigma to empower and celebrate the female Asian identity.
However, her career began with having over 100 job applications turned down while she was at university – until she stopped disclosing her disability. Shani has brittle bone disease, which affects one in 15,000 people in the UK, and the barriers she has faced inspire her disability rights advocacy.
“I’m really passionate about representation and creating everyday equality. After continually feeling underrepresented in society, I was motivated to challenge perceptions and change attitudes by becoming the change that I wanted to see. Until societal and cultural views of disability improve, disabled people will continue to face a range of negative attitudes across all aspects of daily life.”
In addition to being a speaker and columnist on disability and inclusion matters, Shani holds several non-executive roles in regional and international charities and is one of the most influential disabled people in Britain, Shaw Trust Power List 2018.
‘I’ve never had a space to talk about all the features that make up my whole identity, so I created it – because true diversity is intersectional.’