Haleh is the former Chair and founder of Muslim Women’s Network UK. She is Professor of Politics and Women\'s Studies at the University of York and in 2007 was appointed to serve as a crossbencher at the House of Lords. She has also served on the British Council and the United Nations Association of which she is Honorary President of International Services. She has authored and edited over 15 books and has written extensively on Iran and Iranian politics both for academia and the media in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and South East Asia
Shaista Gohir MBE (Chair)
Shaista is a leading Muslim women\'s rights activist in Britain and the Chair of Muslim Women\'s Network UK (MWNUK). Prior to joining the MWNUK board, Shaista was the Executive Director of Muslim Women\'s Network UK and transformed a small informal group of Muslim women into the only national Muslim women\'s organization in Britain mobilising over 400 activists and organisations that were linked onward to more than 40 000 women at grassroots. Under her leadership, membership is now at 600 with the reach of more than 60 000 women.
Shaista has worked in international campaigning and advocacy roles at Oxfam and Save the Children. Shaista is also a member of the International Advisory Group (the highest decision making committee) for Musawah (www.musawah.org) – a global Muslim women’s movement, which has membership from across the world. She is also the founder of the Big Sister website (www.bigsister.org.uk), which highlights inspirational Muslim women globally from past to present. Through this website and her Youtube channel, Muslim Feminist (www.youtube.com/user/Muslimfeminist), she challenges patriarchy and promotes the rights of women.
As a leading Muslim women\'s rights activist in Britain, Shaista was featured in the national newspaper, The Times (March 2011), as \'Britain\'s Most Feminist Muslim.\' She regularly contributes to mainstream, international and niche broadcast and print media. These have included: Times, Guardian, Independent, Huffington, BBC, Sky News, Al Jazeera & CNN. Her blogs, which she writes in her personal capacity, can be found at: www.shaistagohir.com. Shaista also speaks at events locally, nationally and internationally, which includes presenting at the United Nations Human Rights Forum to speak on the human rights of minority women.
In 2013, Shaista was the lead researcher on grounding breaking research investigating sexual exploitation of Asian girls and young women in Britain and authored the report, Unheard Voices, which has been downloaded more than 3500 times. As a result on this she is now on the Office of Children's Commissioner National Inquiry Panel investigating Child Sexual Abuse in the Family Environment. She also runs her own consultancy SNG Consultancy providing training workshops, research and advise on gender related issues such as forced marriage, sexual explaitation, female genital mutilation, domestic violence (www.sngconsultancy.com).
In recognition of her work, she was awarded the MBE honour in the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2008. In 2009, Shaista was included in the Muslim Women Power list, which named the most influential Muslim women in Britain. In the same year she also won the Asian Woman of Achievement Award in the Social and Humanitarian Category.
Nazmin Akthar (Vice Chair)
Nazmin was called to the Bar in 2010 after completing her Law degree at the University of Durham and BVC at University of Northumbria. She then also completed her Masters in Law at Northumbria University in which her dissertation concentrated on the treatment of women offenders by the legal system. Nazmin has simultaneously worked in the financial services sector for five years. After spending time volunteering for different legal organisations including in Employment and Immigration law at a Law Centre for six months, she now acts as a County Court Advocate.
She has been an avid supporter of equality and diversity throughout her life and as such has acted both as a Branch & Area Union Representative for the bank that she worked for and was also heavily involved with Northumbria Student Union as a Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) Student Representative. As well as having links to the legal profession and financial sector, Nazmin has continued her interest in journalism in various capacities and prefers to write in particular on the plight of ethnic minority Muslim women who she believes tend to become lost voices.
Dr Iram Sattar (Treasurer)
Dr. Sattar is a full-time GP with a keen interest in addressing inequalities in health and has helped set up an innovative way of treating patients in the community. In her spare time she works for a medical charity running free clinics for the homeless, non documented migrants and commercial sex workers. She has helped run health check stalls for the Muslim community in mosque and bazaars. She is a board member of a homeless charity. She is an associate member of a community empowerment organisation. Iram has a passion for football and plays for a Muslim women’s football team. She is enthusiastic about teaching and medical education and has co-authored a chapter in a book, ‘Learning to Consult.’ She is undertaking a Post Graduate Certificate in Medical Education at Warwick University. She is committed to advocacy for those members of the community who do not have a voice.
Mussurut Zia (General Secretary)
Mussurut Zia has been involved in the areas of community cohesion, community enhancement and diversity for over fifteen years. During this time she has managed and developed a four year project for disadvantaged women and children in a deprived area of Lancashire. From here she went on to work for Lancashire Constabulary, where she worked initially in Burnley just after the disorder of 2001. This role was centred on community cohesion; dispelling myths; stereotypes; and working with Black Minority Ethnic Women.
In 2007, she set up a community organisation, Practical Solutions, which raises awareness of forced marriage, honour based violence and much more. She is active in the community and has been on the board of Lancashire Women\'s Network, the Corporation Board for Blackburn College, and the FMU Stakeholders round table group. She is also a mentor for young people, through Mosaic Mentoring, and a team leader for the National Citizen Service.
Mussurut holds a BCom in Business and a PGCE. She is a Musawah advocate and trainer, and carried out research contributing to Musawah\'s \'Life Stories Project\' on Muslim Women\'s experiences of Qiwamah and Wilayah in the UK.
Dr. Khursheed Wadia
Khursheed is Principal Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Safety and Well-Being, at the University of Warwick. She has researched and written extensively on the interconnections between gender, ethnicity, politics and policy and has recently completed a four-year investigation of Muslim women and politics in Britain and France, funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council.
She has also researched on migration processes and policy and the integration of migrants in EU destination countries. Currently, she is working on the social and political engagement of young people in Britain.
Robina Iqbal is a community worker with BCC and has been for the past fourteen years working with a diverse range of people and communities. She has managed projects around capacity building with third sector and voluntary organisations supporting them with internal structure, strategies and governance. A mental health project for the BAME clients and carers including work with the Early Intervention Team working with young people suffering from mental illness.She has also worked with the Neighbourhood Forums to address sustainability and capacity building. She was put forward by BCC to run a project with the NHS as a community consultant and delivered consultations and engagement with the public on various health messages, Health Centre Buildings, Patient Networks, and deliver the Healthwatch Birmingham Consultation and Report. She has received commendations for her work with the Forums and Healthwatch and was nominated for the BCC Chamberlain Awards in 2012.
In her volunteer capacity she is Chair of Sparkhill Asian Womens Association a local grassroot based organisation working with women to address issues around empowerment, social isolation and barriers due to language and culture. She has been a Board member of MWNUK since 2008 and was appointed Vice-Chair in 2009 and served as Chair in 2012. She has been a board director of WAITS since 2009 and was also on the Board of Groundwork West Midlands for 2 years. She is a community activist and promotes womens rights at a local, national and international level through her work on the UK CEDAW Committee (Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination of All Women) and the FRA ( Fundamental Rights Agency) in Europe. She has been awarded British Asian Hafta Award, Midland Asian Community Award, Leader of the Year Award by WAITS and is a Peace Ambassador for the Womens International Peace Federation.