On Thursday night, I attended the Heathrow Airport’s European Diversity Awards 2018 awards ceremony where JAN Trust and I were both nominated in the categories of ‘Community Project of the Year’ and ‘Campaigner of the Year’.
I was thrilled that we were even be shortlisted from 60,000 nominations as this renowned awards ceremony aims to celebrate diversity across Europe and honour various individuals, campaigners, organisations and charities who champion diversity and are making a difference. However, when they announced that I had won Campaigner of the Year 2018, and JAN Trust were Highly Commended in their category, it cemented for me that all our hard work was paying off and that it was being seen, heard and valued by more people than I could have ever anticipated.
Unfortunately, this journey has not been an easy one. My counter-terrorism work started after surviving the London Bombings in 2005, when Germaine Lindsay detonated his bomb in the same tube I was travelling in. The trauma of such a devastating attack stays with you always, but it also changed my life in so many ways. I decided to dedicate my life to stopping young people from being drawn into this violent ideology and working within my own community with the aim of preventing another 7/7 from happening. I went on to create the pioneering and award-winning Web Guardians™ programme, which eventually found support from the Home Office. It was a first of its kind initiative combining counter-terrorism work with women’s rights; designed to build community resilience through the education and empowerment of women and mothers to prevent and tackle online extremism. At the start of this year I co-founded Survivors Against Terror, a unique network of both family members who have lost a loved one to terror as well as survivors of terror attacks, which aims to help tackle terrorism and ensure victims and their families get the support they need.
This year, we received the devastating news that the Home Office were unceremoniously withdrawing their funding for the Web Guardians™ programme last minute, leaving the future of the project up in the air. It was a harsh blow to my team and I as we had dedicated so much to this initiative and had seen and experienced first-hand how vital it was for the women involved. However, Thursday night highlighted and brought home to me that my work, especially as a counter-terrorism campaigner, and the work of the JAN Trust team is appreciated and valued. It is incredibly heart-warming to know that we have the support of such a renowned awarding body such as the European Diversity Awards, we feel truly honoured and grateful, especially after such difficult times.
I want to thank all the staff, teachers, volunteers and trustees for their commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable women and creating safer and stronger communities. I also want to extend a sincere thank you to the European Diversity Awards for valuing our work – we stand together in creating a diverse society, that is accepting of all and free from hatred.
Sajda Mughal OBE
Find out more about Sajda’s journey here.