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29 April 2013
The achievements of Welsh Asian women have been celebrated at an inspiring awards ceremony in Cardiff (Saturday April 27).
Cardiff University’s Professor Meena Upadhyaya established the Welsh Asian Women Achievement Awards to recognise Asian women who have made a significant contribution to Wales and Welsh life.
Awards were given out for achievement in the categories of Science, Technology and Medicine; Arts; Business, Management and Leadership and Social and Humanitarian. This is the only recognition scheme currently in place in Wales that identifies, publicises and applauds the merits of Asian women in these areas.
Professor Upadhyaya, School of Medicine said: "I was inspired and humbled by the exciting stories and the achievements of so many wonderful women. The atmosphere was warm, friendly and celebratory and I was delighted to welcome a panel of very distinguished guests and representatives from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Japan and China to help us celebrate the event."
The 2013 ceremony is the second in the Award’s history and featured traditional Indian dance, music and song from acclaimed performers including internationally acclaimed singer Sunita Menon and musician Ketan Salim.
Award winners included Indu Deglurkar in the category of Science, Technology and Medicine. Indu is a consultant Cardiothoracic surgeon at the University Hospital of Wales, one of only five female consultant cardiac surgeons in the UK. Indu was joint winner of this category along with Chandrika Joshi.
Chandrika Joshi was born in Uganda and came to Wales in 1972. She worked in audiology for two years before studying for a degree in Dentistry. She has dedicated her career towards helping people with disabilities. She is a specialist in special-care dentistry and has worked as a Senior Dental Officer for more than 20 years. Chandrika is committed to improving access to dental services for people with special needs, especially people with learning difficulties and mental health problems. Her plans for the future are to keep contributing to caring for people in her professional capacity and also set up a charity to support dentists who suffer from mental health issues in Wales.
The award for Management and Leadership went to Rakhshanda Shahzad, Director of Service Delivery for BAWSO, an all Wales organisation which provides specialist services to black and ethnic minority women and children fleeing domestic abuse.
Nirmala Pisavadia took the Social and Humanitarian Award for her work with Sight Cymru promoting prevention of needless sight loss in black and ethnic minority communities in Wales. Nirmala set up MEGAFOCUS Wales, a group of multi-disciplinary professionals who work with people with sight loss to manage treatment and also to spread awareness of the cause. Nirmala was born in Kenya and has lived in Wales for almost 33 years.
This year’s event also featured a new category of Lifetime Achievement Award presented to three inspirational individuals:
Dr Minakshi Choksi came to the UK in 1964 from India and has provided outstanding service to the NHS in Wales as a Consultant Anaesthetist. Dr Choksi has worked tirelessly to promote integration within the pan-Asian community in Cardiff by encouraging greater interaction, mutual respect and tolerance.
Angela Kwok originally from Hong Kong moved to Wales in 1972. As a Chinese woman living in the UK, she discovered many of the Chinese women had difficulty speaking with the local community and were not able to understand English. Angela went on to set up Cardiff Chinese Community Services Association (CCCSA) to provide interpretation and translation services as well as organising cultural events in Cardiff such as celebrations for Chinese New Year.
Valbai Keshra was born in the Bharasar province of India and moved to Cardiff in 1968. She could speak very little English and lacked confidence to communicate with others until 7 years ago when she started working towards her Maths and English exams. Now at the age of 74, Valbai has a new sense of confidence when facing the world and is able to converse easily with those around her. Her ambition is to share her knowledge, skills and experiences by running a class for women in similar situations.
Honoured guests at the ceremony included Menna Richards (Vice-President of Cardiff University and the previous controller of BBC Cymru Wales); Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan, Peter Beck; Baroness Anita Gale; former First Minister Rhodri Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services Mark Drakeford and Assembly Ministers Jane Hutt, Julie Morgan, Eluned Parrott and Jenny Rathbone.
Cardiff University strongly supported the awards with judges including Professor Teresa Rees from the School of Social Sciences; Professor Julian Sampson, Head of the Institute of Medical Genetics; Emeritus Professor Susan Denman, formerly of the School of Medicine; Professor Terry Threadgold, former Pro Vice-Chancellor for Staff and Diversity and Professor Dianne Edwards from the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences.
The ceremony was attended by 280 people, and a proportion of the profits will go to Cancer Research Wales.
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