Updated: Aug 11, 2020
As Asian Woman Festival has grown into a fully-fledged platform to empower South Asian women with events, content, merch and our latest addition, our support directory, the team at AWF want to shine a spotlight on Asian women who are creating positive change in the world. That’s why this year the AWF team has assembled our first ever power list, consisting of women who have made their mark, raised their voice and are exceptional representations of our community.
For too long Asian women have been reduced to the stereotype of being submissive and obedient, but we know just how powerful, diverse and influential we are. We are a force to be reckoned with! With this list we hope to not only honour the individuals chosen, but also inspire others to take action, however small.
So the moment of truth, meet our incredible power listers!
Neelam is a Tedx Speaker and the Founder of Cysters, a grassroots charity dedicated to supporting individuals with reproductive and mental health concerns. They work with marginalised communities, people of colour and the LGBTQ communities to tackle sensitive and often sexualised topics at a grassroots level. Through Cysters, Neelam works with communities to reduce barriers, tackle expulsion and ensure that all patients have equal access to healthcare despite their background.
Neelam has also undertaken a temporary project with the NHS as a response to the Pandemic and manages the logistics teams behind the UK Wide distribution of PPE, alongside NHS England, Ministry of Defence and Unipart.
Sangeeta is an activist, writer, speaker and founder of the South Asian feminist network
Soul Sutras which is all about tackling taboos within the culture. She’s the creator of the Spotify award-winning Masala Podcast, the show for South Asian womxn dealing with sex, sexuality, shame, periods & other taboos. Sangeeta is also the creator of the Masala Monologues series of writing workshops & theatre shows in the UK & the US. She has been featured in the Evening Standard, Eastern Eye, BBC Asian Radio, Brown Girl Magazine and has been a writer for over 20 years.
Jaspreet Kaur, better known as Behind the Netra for her poetry, is an award-winning Spoken Word Poet from East London with an academic background in History, Politics and Gender Studies. She has spent the last five years teaching History and Sociology in secondary schools across London. Her poetic works focus on themes such as gender inequality, mental health stigma and the postcolonial immigrant experience. Jaspreet actively works with national governments, corporations and charities alike, such as TED, the UN and women’s networks across the UK, using her poetry and writing to inspire and drive social change. Her TED talk, “How Poetry Saved My Life” is one of many examples of this. She is also an avid humanitarian and is an ambassador for Binti International and Time to Change.
In 2020, Jaspreet has been awarded the Ben Pimlott Writer in Residency at Birkbeck University as a Research Fellow with the Politics Department. She is currently working on her first book, a narrative non-fiction exploring what it means to be a Brown, British Feminist in this new decade.
Amika George is a 20 year old student at Cambridge University, who, at the age of 17,
started the Free Periods campaign from her bedroom to end period poverty in the UK.
After reading about children missing school as they were unable to afford menstrual
products, Amika started an online movement, and organised a protest in London,
attended by over 2,000 young people. Her campaign successfully persuaded the UK
government to provide free menstrual products in all English schools and colleges from
She has since received global recognition for her campaigning work including receiving
a Goalkeepers award by Bill & Melinda Gates, in conjunction with the United Nations,
and was listed by TIME magazine as one of the 25 most influential teenagers in the
world. She has launched the next phase of Free Periods, raising funds for a legal
campaign to ensure that every child worldwide has equal access to education,
uninhibited by their period.
Sara Jafari is a British-Iranian writer, editor and debut novelist. Her writing has been published in gal-dem and The Good Journal, among other publications. She is a London Writers Award awardee, and a contributor of gal-dem’s essay collection with Walker Books, "I Will Not Be Erased": Our stories about growing up as people of colour.
She single-handedly runs TOKEN Magazine, a literary and arts print magazine featuring under-represented writers and artists, as well as working as an Assistant Editor at Puffin, Penguin Random House.
Manjit K Gill
Manjit K. Gill, is CEO and founder of the phenomenal charity, Binti International which is registered in the UK, India and the US. Binti has a vision to create a world where all women have menstrual dignity.
Manjit has amassed over 20 years of international business expertise and has been involved in 7 startups prior to Binti. It was her role as a volunteer mentor for a young lady in Kenya with the Cherie Blair Foundation that led her to start Binti when she found out that some women do not have access to menstrual products. Her mission is to create a huge, social impact, whilst generating a sustainable organisation. To provide basic menstrual products and education for girls and women across the world. Whilst dispelling stigmas, taboos and smash shame with periods.
Daizy is passionate about young people shaping the future, social entrepreneurship and representation. She hosts a podcast called The Daizy Project which explores living a purpose life life through meaningful conversations with bold entrepreneurs, leaders and change-makers. She has spoken at BMW, Pausefest and on a panel discussion with Ela Gandhi (Human Rights activist and Granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi).
While trying to complete her Commerce and Law degree she traveled to Tanzania working on social impact projects, Thailand as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development assisting in legal aid for refugees and to the Himalayas in India to resolve her quarter-life crisis through meditation. She's currently on a mission to squeeze in writing a memoir and building a social movement to empower South Asian women through Bold Punjab. On the "professional" front at the age of 21 she served on the board of directors for Australia’s largest Community Bank company (NSX: CSH) and at 22 was appointed to lead Deakin University’s entrepreneurship programs for over 60 000 students. The initiative, SPARK Deakin has since invested in 87 founders and engaged 10 000 people in their community events.
Anoushé Husain is a civil servant and paraclimber in the UK and a champion for all those experiencing barriers and self-limiting beliefs. Born missing her right arm below the elbow, living with multiple health conditions, a cancer survivor, a Muslim and coming from an ethnic minority, Anoushé has never let what society or culture thinks she should do limit her or dictate the direction of her life.
She spends her time sharing her journey to help others realise they shouldn’t be limited by how society or culture might see them. Anoushé is the 2017 Asian Women of Achievement Award winner for Sport and the 2017 recipient of the Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration at The Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards. She was also named on the 2018 Sunday Times Alternative Richlist, has received a Points of Light from the Prime Minister and is currently in the Top 100 most influential people with a disability Shaw Trust Powerlist.
Known as Singapore's first international Burlesque Artist, Sukki gained worldwide
recognition by becoming the first woman to perform a full legal burlesque show in
Singapore in January 2015 after four years of campaigning.
In 2016 Sukki was nominated and shortlisted for the United Nations Women’s He For
She Awards, leading to further international recognition by the BBC, and a string of
engagements for high profile clients and brands including London Fashion Week, DFS
and Samsung. By 2017 she had amassed a large and loyal following as both an Artist
and a Global Ambassador for The Sharan Project, a charity providing support for
vulnerable women. Recently she announced her television debut for NETFLIX, with “Singapore Social,”cementing both her versatility and star power on screen and off.
Rupinder is the award winning founder of AWMB, a British Asian woman who has experienced and excelled in both corporate and entrepreneurial environments. She is passionate about helping Asian women unlock their silent strength to empower them to reach their full potential. AWMB help South Asian women shift from isolation and overwhelm to professional and personal joy by providing the framework, resources and support needed to build balance and structure, within a vibrant sisterhood .
With eighteen years experience in the world of human resources, psychology, coaching and mentoring she is able to utilise all her knowledge and tools to ensure women are given the support they need to lead a life they are proud of and that reflects their values and dreams. She is a mother to Daya and Sahib and understands the challenges that working mums face, and how becoming a mother can change your identity as a woman, your life aspirations and trying to understand who you really are. Rupinder was invited and accepted into the Forbes Coaches Council in January 2020. She is the only Asian woman from the UK on this prestigious global council.
Ravina Anand (BSc, MPPGA, MD ‘23) is a social entrepreneur and the Co-Founder of FLIK, the first female-identifying apprenticeship portal. She is moving to increase women-led ventures across the world through curated opportunities by elevating current women and the next generation of women no matter who they are or where they come from.
With experience in municipal politics and community advocacy, she promotes diversity by encouraging people to fight injustices and challenge stereotypes. On a global level, Ravina advocates for women from conflict regions and has researched ways to create an inclusive definition of gender-based violence at the UN, ASPs, and ICC.
Sanjana Nagesh is the founder of the global sisterhood @browngirlgang, a space to feature inspiring and badass South Asians around the world. In just three years, her community has almost 85 000 followers, co-created @browngirlmemes and been featured in the BBC, Teen Vogue and more. Sanjana is passionate about curating magical content that represents South Asians, the fusion of brown culture and pop-culture and intersectional feminism. Based in Sydney Australia, the 24-year-old hopes her platforms inspire people to blur cultural boundaries and remember, you will never influence the world by being just like it.
Sahaj Kohli is the founder of Brown Girl Therapy, a wellness community organization redefining self care for South Asian women and children of immigrants through identity exploration and the de-stigmatization of therapy. She's very passionate about increasing mental health resources for minorities as well as educating other mental health professionals who want to work within our communities. Sahaj is currently a graduate student at The George Washington University where she is studying to be a clinical mental health counselor (while also working full-time in journalism). She loves reading, solo travel, and Thai food.
Saba is a Pakistani-American Lawyer, an activist and a social entrepreneur. Saba has a distinguished career in international trade law and immigration and works as Of Counsel and consultant to law firms in Washington, DC.
Saba also lobbies at the Capital Hill with the South Asian Bar Association on legal matters impacting the South Asian community. She is the President of Montgomery County Muslim Foundation (MCMF), one of the largest Muslim nonprofits in Maryland, President of Oaks Washington, which is the Kinnaird College Alumni chapter in Washington and US representative of Hope Uplift Foundation, a nonprofit in Lahore, Pakistan.
Don’t forget to follow us on instagram to see takeovers and learn more from these inspirational women!