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29th September 2016

Profile: Qaisra Shahraz Lifetime Achiever Award at the National Diversity Awards

Charlotte Smith praises Qaisra Shahraz for her work as an author and humanitarian and shares thoughts on her Lifetime Achiever Award from the National Diversity Awards

Qaisra Shahraz is an extraordinary woman; she has produced some outstanding literary pieces and committed much of her life to women’s rights and interfaith relationships— thirty years to be exact. Thirty years committed to equality issues and the celebration of diversity through multiple careers; she has become a highly successful woman on an international scale. On the 16th of September Shahraz’s exemplary work was recognised at the National Diversity Awards, beating several other individuals in the running for the Lifetime Achiever Award.

The National Diversity Awards honours role models and charities nationwide, this year taking place in Liverpool to celebrate the achievements of these incredible people and organisations who have dedicated their time to diversity, equality and inclusion. There are 10 awards that are awarded to individuals on the night, however this year saw a record-breaking 20,000 nominations and votes received.

The evening began with a speech by the founder of the National Diversity Awards, Paul Sesay, discussing the importance of the NDAs and the inspiration behind the ceremony. The ceremony itself is sponsored by a variety of organisations including the Army, Adidas Group, The Open University and Able Magazine, that contribute towards supporting a diverse group of talent. It was a room full of incredible individuals; Qaisra Shahraz stated that her fellow nominees were “amazing, inspirational people, excellent role models– all winners in their own right!”

Shahraz herself found the event to be a thrilling experience for me and my sister Farah, to be part of an incredible event in Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, which brilliantly showcased and celebrated the marvellous work, of hundreds of unsung heroes, amazing companies and charities across the UK. All of whom have tirelessly dedicated their lives to inclusion, removal of barriers for others and celebrating diversity.”

She completed her first university degree at the University of Manchester; she is now a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and has written many prize-winning and critically acclaimed novels and scripts through which she has expressed a lifelong commitment to equality issues and the celebration of diversity. However, she is still very much involved with the University of Manchester and is currently filling the role of vice-chair for “Faith Network 4 Manchester”.  Qaisra Shahraz is working with students from the University, Saffa Mir and Ilyas Nagdee to organise a Diversity Multi-Faith peace event to be held the Students’ Union on the 7th of December.

Diversity is such an important issue both within the community and globally, so it has become exceedingly important to celebrate both diversity and those who champion it. The National Diversity Awards is an amazing event which highlights incredible individuals who celebrate and promote diversity in numerous ways; the atmosphere is a very positive one, with all nominees supporting one another. Such a fantastic event deserves recognition and praise—as do all the nominees and supporters of the event, and we at Manchester should be very proud that Qaisra Shahraz, one of our own, has won such a prestigious humanitarian award.

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