Following our recent blog post ‘Pledge Your Support‘ we are proud to introduce our global ambassadors. They have joined us to use their expertise and resources to raise awareness of forced marriage and campaign to improve the lives of South Asian women in the UK.
First up is Iqbal Wahhab, a business man and restaurateur. Born in Bangladesh, he moved to Britain at the age of eight months. Iqbal graduated from London School of Economics and worked as a journalist in the national press for three years, in 1991 he set up his own PR firm which specialised in food, drink and restaurants and then in 1994 he launched Tandoori Magazine. He sold out of the magazine to launch the multi award-winning Cinnamon Club in 2001 – a restaurant and bar aimed to change the way we view Indian dining.
In 2003 he co-authored The Cinnamon Club Cookbook and in 2005 opened the highly successful Roast, a British restaurant and bar in Borough Market. Iqbal received an OBE in the 2010 New Years Honours list for public service and services to the hospitality industry.
Why did you become a Global Ambassador for the Sharan Project?
I have been aware of Polly’s ambitions for the Sharan Project for a while and have been encouraging her to take the project by the horns and address the many shocking daily experiences so many women have to endure on our doorstep. Largely ignored by many in our communities, issues from forced marriages to honour killings still blight the lives of so many people – undoubtedly much more than we know about. Yet many of us choose to do nothing about it because life is easier to roll with that way. That’s simply not the case for so many women not just on the other side of the world but for many of us on the other side of the street. So when Polly asked if I would take this role, there was only going to be one answer.
What are your goals for 2014 as a Global Ambassador?
In this role I aim to vocalise not just the terrible atrocities women in Britain have to endure, but also bring attention through my media, charity and social enterprise networks to the valuable work Sharan is doing. As well making modest financial contributions to the running of the project, I will also offer my support towards developing networks and identifying opportunities and sustainable income streams. Sharan is a great charity, working to support women who have been disowned by their families and to help them to lead successful independent lives without fear.
What Advice would you give to other Ambassadors?
Let’s collaborate! We can all launch individual silos of activity but the notion of “collective impact” – big in the US – is based on the sum being greater than its constituent parts.