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Honouring Welsh Asian women

11 November 2011

Meena and FarhanaProfessor Upadhyaya (right) with small business award winner Farhana Ali

A University Professor has successfully created Wales’ first Asian women of achievement awards.

The first Awards ceremony, held at Cardiff’s City Hall recognised and celebrated the important contribution of Asian women in all walks of Welsh life. The categories cover the arts; small business; management and leadership; science, technology and medicine; social and humanitarian work; and self-development.

The Welsh Asian Women Achievement Awards were the inspiration of Professor Meena Upadhyaya of the University’s Institute of Medical Genetics. Professor Upadhyaya is internationally recognised in the field of medical genetics, and has improved the quality of life for patients with life-threatening inherited conditions. She also devotes time to coaching children from local Asian communities to enter university. She was herself a finalist in last year’s UK Asian Women of Achievement Award in the Professional of the Year category.

Professor Upadhyaya said: "We set up the awards to celebrate the often unsung achievements of many truly inspiring Asian women here in Wales, and also, perhaps more importantly, to identify female role models for the Asian community to follow. We hope this initiative will also promote the entrepreneurial spirit of Asian women, helping to boosting new business, expand our economy and improve the quality of life here in Wales."

The awards were presented at a gala celebration of Asian food and culture. Winners included Chetna Sinha, who was jointly awarded the Social and Humanitarian award. Mrs Sinha, who has a Chemistry M.Sc from Cardiff, is a senior partner at the immigration firm Chetna & Co. solicitors and is also chair of the Black Association of Women Step Out organ-isation. The award was presented by the University’s Head of Public Relations Karen O’Shea.

The University was strongly involved in the awards, with Professor Julian Sampson, Director of the Institute of Medical Genetics, chaired the judging panel. He also presented the science, technology and medicine award to winner Dr Tapati Maulik. Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Terry Threadgold and Professor Terry Rees, School of Social Sciences, presented the arts award Kiran Ratna and Madhvi Dalal. Professor Malcolm Mason, School of Medicine, presented the management and leadership award to Samsunear Ali. Professor Dianne Edwards, of the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, was also a judge.

Other guests included the political philosopher Lord Parekh, Lady Lloyd Jones and BBC News journalist Almeena Ahmed. Also among those presenting the awards are Welsh Minister for Finance Jane Hutt AM, Kirsty Williams AM and Julie Morgan AM.

Professor Upadhyaya added: "We have had an extremely high response with entries to the awards, particularly for our first year, and some extremely high quality nominations . We were very grateful to Cardiff University, the local Asian communities and everyone who has supported the Awards. I am looking forward to this event becoming a regular feature in the Welsh calendar and enhancing the contributions of Asian woman to Welsh life."