LONDON: A leading British-Pakistani women’s rights campaigner has been appointed to the House of Lords as a non-party political peer by the UK prime minister and the queen.
Shaista Gohir welcomed her appointment as a baroness to the House of Lords and described it as a “huge honour”. Gohir, CEO of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, made her name campaigning fearlessly for the rights of Muslim women and spoke out against extremism and radicalism. Her parents are from Daultalla, Tehsil Gujar Khan, District Rawalpindi. They moved to England in the early 1960s.
Gohir told Geo and The News that she would use the platform of her NGO, Nisa Global Foundation, which she established last year, to help women and girls in developing countries including Pakistan. She said: “I plan to work with girls and women in Pakistan and look forward to working with NGOs working in this area in Pakistan and elsewhere. Women in South Asia have so much potential. My mother is my biggest inspiration and I would not be where I am today without her help. She encouraged us and devoted herself to our education and learning. She gave me and my siblings confidence and guidance and made sure that we stand up for the right causes in life.”
Gohir was selected by the House of Lords Appointments Commission and her appointment was approved by the UK prime minister and the queen. Her likely title will be the baroness of Hall Green, reflecting her close connection to the area of Birmingham. Hall Green is where she has lived for the last 20 years and where her charity Muslim Women’s Network UK is based.
She said: “It is a huge honour to have been invited to join such a prestigious institution and be at the heart of law making. I did not think someone like me will ever be given such an opportunity. I see this role as an extension of my activism and will use my voice to fly the flag for women’s rights, charity sector, women’s health, the NHS and of course for the West Midlands region. I look forward to working independently with peers across the House, sharing my expertise and providing scrutiny of government policy and legislation.”
Gohir, who is a mother to three, told this correspondent that her activism began in 2004 when she started working for the rights of Muslim women from her bedroom. She worked hard to make her charity successful and started getting funding from charitable foundations. “I managed to get a little bit of funding and support. Now it’s a £400,000 charity with about 15 staff, from an informal group in 2004 to a national award-winning charity.”Gohir’s brother Asajd Nazir is a leading British Asian journalist and edits a leading showbiz weekly focussed on Bollywood.