RAZIA ISMAEEL – CHAIRPERSON – AAGHI, UK
Dr Razia Ismail is an acclaimed Urdu language poet and fiction writer who has been residing in England since 1973.
Along with her writing career in the UK, she has been a passionate social and community worker, women rights activist, and a committed educationalist for the past 40 years.
She has served in the British Civil service for a number of years and worked in the local government as a social care consultant for 30 years.
After graduating from the University of Punjab (Lahore), she came to England in 1973. Since arriving in England, she has been involved in Higher Education, training, teaching, writing, media work, as well as social and community work. She took up several higher study courses in London, Birmingham, Warwick and Oxford. She won ‘Best Student of the Year’ award in her social work training in 1989.
She is the founder member and the Chairperson of British Asian Women s’ Literary and Cultural organisation called ‘Aaghee’ (meaning awareness). She set up this organisation in Birmingham, West Midlands, in collaboration with her professional and literary colleagues in 1997. Since then, she has worked extensively with the British Asian Women on local, national and international levels to raise awareness on the contemporary social and cultural issues affecting women on day to day basis in the UK.
The aim of ‘Aaghee’ is to raise awareness among the British Asian community particularly the women, on the contemporary social and cultural issues including the Domestic Violence, Immigration, Education, Disability, Forced Marriages, Depression and Suicides and so on.
This is achieved via detached community work through conferences, seminars, writing workshops, support groups, newsletters, performing Arts and varied literary activities.
Razia Ismail states that “The uniqueness of our work lies in raising awareness through Art and Literature. Artists and writers are invited locally, nationally and internationally to share their work with the local Community, which is highly valued as it is found mentally, emotionally and intellectually stimulating.
Razia Ismail received a special invitation to visit The House of Lords with ‘Aaghee’ management committee in 1999, from Lord Nazir Ahmed.
Razia Ismail, over the years, has been involved with the management committees and the Board of Executives of several voluntary and Community organisations.
Razia Ismail is the editor, advisor and a patron of several Urdu literary magazines published in the UK and abroad.
She has written 8 poetry books, 6 fiction/prose and has edited several books.
She has received a number of prestigious awards in the UK and overseas for her literary as well as social and community work, just to name a few: life time fellowship of the Millennium Commission in 2000, letter of commendation from the Home Secretary for her active participation in the National Year of Reading in 1998 to improve literacy, PTV Global Award for outstanding achievement in community work in 2014, Yorkshire literary Forum lifetime achievement Award 2017, Adab Saraae lifetime achievement award in the recognition of her services and diligent efforts for the promotion of Urdu language and literature internationally in 2015.
Her services were recognised by Her Majesty the Queen in her Birthday Honours list in 2017, and she was invited to the Buckingham Palace to receive her Member of the British Empire (MBE) Award.
Lord- Lieutenant of West Midlands, John Crabtree, congratulated Razia Ismail on receiving this award that “I would like to express my warmest congratulations to you on being awarded the MBE in the Queen s’ Birthday Honours list. I am delighted that your service to women in the Asian community in Birmingham has been marked in such a fitting way and you can be justifiably proud of your achievement”.
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, The Head of Department for Communities and local Government wrote to her that “This award rightly recognises your services to Asian Women and the Community in Birmingham”.
An acclaimed Urdu writer in London, Hamida Rizvi writes about her work correctly that “Razia Ismail has written very passionately about women s’ issues. Her poetry is not just a figment of her imagination. The victimisation, oppression and the violation of women s’ rights, physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse results into long term psychological trauma for women…. it is with this impetus that Razia weaves a powerful message for women that they are as human as men. They are equal, and Razia has driven this message forward with great passion and courage in her poetry and her personal life”.