South Asian women are change-makers, and have been at the forefront of the revolution for decades, making strides in so many different ways.
Whether it is at home, challenging the patriarchy, or out in the community, advocating for equality, South Asian women truly embody innovation and passion.
Here in the Lower Mainland, we are home to many South Asian women who believe, achieve and envision a society that is free from gender inequality and other systemic barriers.
Zeba Khan, Raj Arneja, Jessie Kaur Lehail and Nisha Khare are 4 local South Asian female leaders to keep on your radar.
Originally from Bangladesh, Zeba Khan moved to Canada in 2015 to pursue her studies at UBC. She also has her Bachelor of Physiology and Neuroscience. Recognized as a strong community leader, Khan is an advocate for menstrual and healthcare equity, and founded the non-profit organization Free Periods Canada.
Free Periods Canada promotes menstrual equity by providing free menstrual products to those in need, and also by conducting research on menstrual equity and activism.
Khan is a boundless woman and advocate who spends her free time mentoring youth transitioning from high-school to post-secondary.
Raj Arneja is a published author and is the Director of Corporate Engagement and Philanthropy of Nanak Foods and is a member of multiple boards, including of Seva Thrift store, which is a sustainability and economically aware organization whose mission is to reduce, reuse, and repurpose.
Nanak Foods is the largest Indian-dairy factory in all of North America, and has strong ties to diverse community initiatives and engagements. Arneja has taken it upon herself to ensure that Nanak Foods is a socially responsible company, and has mandated its support to multiple community endeavours, both locally and abroad.
Her involvement with Seva Thrift embodies the same rigour, as she has overseen the non-profits support to multiple local initiatives including Surrey Memorial Hospital, Surrey Food Bank, and the local Toy Drive by the Surrey Christmas Bureau.
Jessie Kaur Lehail is a Board Member with Fraser Health and the co-founder of The Kaur Project, which gives Punjabi Sikh women an opportunity to create their own narratives, talk about their diverse experiences, and discuss their revelations about being a Kaur.
The project garnered immense support globally, and is hailed as a forward-thinking initiative which gives a voice to a community of women who often go unheard.
With 3 university degrees under her belt, Nisha Khare is a woman of many trades who co-founded Women of Wonder Global.
Women of Wonder Global is a platform dedicated to highlighting changemaker women in the community, who through their various endeavors, work to empower and uplift others. Khare interviews each feature, engaging in a larger than life conversation about dreams, goals, and the goddess within.
Previously employed as a teacher, Khare spent a lot of time working with children from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and currently hosts a weekly FB live helping children and their families maneuver COVID-19 while facing mental health barriers.
All of these women not only embody strength and resilience, but a go-getter attitude that does not settle for less.
This International Women’s Day, we must highlight the contributions and accomplishments of women we know who strive to make our communities more inclusive and accessible for all.
We are fortunate here in Vancouver to be surrounded by so many hard-working women, and we hope that these women inspire you to create and to be change that you want to see.
About the author: Manisha is a freelance writer with experience on both radio and television, who is also the former titleholder of Miss Fiji Canada 2017. She is an artist, poet, and an SFU alumnus with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications. Manisha is the creator of the platform Bula Mental Health which is dedicated to bridging the gap between history, current events, and overall well-being. Check her out on Instagram: @exclusivelymanisha