About Us


The Asian Women of Achievement Awards, founded by Pinky Lilani CBE DL in 1999, celebrate multicultural Britain and the contribution of diverse cultures and talents to UK society. We put on a platform, the phenomenal Asian women across the UK and across industries, who are making a valuable and important contribution to British life. The awards play a key role in redefining the contribution of Asian women; and informing a new, positive, pro-diversity debate.

A life changing experience

The awards have led to the creation of numerous initiatives and projects designed to help women and improve opportunities for the next generation. The awards are not simply a night of recognition but a community and a programme of initiatives that offer the opportunity for candidates to meet like-minded women and build business contacts.

Our sister initiative, the Women of the Future Programme, enables opportunities through our Women of the Future Network and Women of the Future Ambassadors Programme.

Shortlist candidates from the AWA Awards are invited to become members of the Network and act as Ambassadors for the schools initiative. Please find below more information on these programmes.

Connected Programmes
An active network of high achieving women


Celebrating the UK’s pipeline of female talent


Connecting students with role models and strengthening the pipeline of talent


A global forum for female leaders


What our candidates say

“The Asian Woman of Achievement Awards have had a huge impact on me personally and professionally. Being recognised amongst incredible and talented women in the science category was inspirational and motivated me to continue to support and mentor early career researchers. The awards came at a time when I was completing a huge clinical trial, and getting ready to share the results with the world, and allowed me to value and embrace my qualities as a leader. I am now an ambassador for the AWA and will continue to promote these for the recognition of other amazing women in science.”

Harbinder Sandhu
Professor, University of Warwick Winner of 2022 Science Award

“The awards provided an entrance to a network of amazing supportive Asian women able to respond and discuss issues facing us in our professional lives. I felt validated and recognised by receiving my award which has boosted my self confidence and ability to be brave in my role. The award is impressive to those I work with and has helped me to be able to talk about my heritage with openness and honesty which is vital in my area of work.”

Anita Grant
Assistant Chief Officer for Trust and Legitimacy, Sussex Police Winner of the 2023 Public Service Award

“To achieve an award for public service has given recognition to myself as a woman in management and a leader of over 30 years.  It makes me proud as a woman of colour being successful and being a role model for our future generation . It placed a unique value on the work of SAFS and highlighted the need of the services we provide. It also gives a platform and a voice to children & adults who have disabilities and/or complex health needs. It also opens doors for many opportunities for all individuals working in the charity and community sector.”

Parpinder Dhatt
CEO, SAFS Winner of 2019 Public Service Award

“Being highly commended for the Asian Women of Achievement Award has been transformative. This has not only connected me with accomplished Asian women, but also integrated me into a larger community. Each woman’s unique narrative has inspired me, their triumphs resonating with my journey. The AWA is more than just an award; it’s a testament to the strength and potential of Asian women, and being a recipient has profoundly influenced my perspective, ambition, and sense of pride in my cultural heritage.”

Judy Zhu
Senior Director, CBRE Highly Commended for 2019 Real Estate, Infrastructure & Construction Award

“Receiving the Asian Women of Achievement Award in the Science category has provided a huge boost to my confidence and given me a platform to highlight the important role played by women of colour in tackling global science and engineering challenges. I have met many remarkable women through the Asian Women of Achievement Awards and Women of the Future Network, who provide me with support, inspiration and motivation to keep championing diversity and inclusion in fields where women, and particularly women of colour, have been historically underrepresented.”

Reshma Rao
Research Fellow/Lecturer, Imperial College London Winner of 2023 Science Award



“Winning the Asian Women of Achievement Award has connected me with so many high achieving women, who all share the desire to make a positive impact on society. The network of female changemakers that AWA opens to you is second to none!”


Serena Kern-Libera
Co-Founder, LinkGevity Winner of 2020 Business Award

“Receiving Highly Commended AWA Award for Entrepreneurship has positively impacted me and my social enterprise HumaniTea. The AWA community spearheaded by Pinky Lilani is truly fantastic. The women I’ve met through the programme are super inspirational, and I’m so happy to still be in touch with many today. There are regular events throughout the year, and it’s always so lovely to catch up and hear about each other’s successes in life and career. Since then, I have launched our HumaniTea into Co-op, Amazon, and Ocado and have had the opportunity to showcase our HumaniTea on billboards in high footfall locations.”

Tina Chen
Founder / Chief Tea Officer, HumaniTea (Mighty Drinks Ltd.) Winner of 2019 Entrepreneur Award

“It was wonderful to have met students at Sutton High School, and play a small part in helping them write their stories that hopefully see them fulfilling their dreams. After winning the ‘Media’ Award at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards, I am really pleased to have been able to do something to give back – or pay it forward – through the Women of the Future Ambassador Scheme.”

Anila Dhami
Presenter & Journalist Winner of the 2023 Media Award

I was so privileged to win the 2009 Public Sector award. I found myself feeling a greater sense of responsibility to live up to the award and reassess how I could pay back and support others. In my journey since I have sought to focus on three values – compassion, collaboration and confidence – and that these should inform and shape what I do and how I do it. Compassion means that I seek to understand and connect with people, placing trust at the heart of my relationships. The generosity of kindness flows from this. This essential oil fuels my professional and personal networks. Collaboration follows, what you put in is more than matched by what you get out of the relationships you invest in and those you help. And finally, confidence. The award reinforced this, strengthened my own determination and clarified my own sense of ambition. It inspired me to pursue the jobs I wanted, get them and then make them my own. But in doing so, I realised that others need to believe in themselves too, to find their path, so it gave me the confidence too to share my story and seek to empower others to believe in themselves.

Vicki Treadell CMG MVO
British High Commissioner, Australia Winner for the 2009 AWA Public Sector Award

It’s no exaggeration to say that these awards really were the catalyst to my career and how I was able to make a difference. It’s so phenomenally important to recognise the achievements of not just Asian women, but particularly Asian women in the arts, especially when often, culturally, we can be guilty of not giving the arts the recognition or gravitas they deserve. What AWA does for women like myself really does make a monumental difference, I am forever thankful for that.

Sukki Singapora
International Burlesque Artist Finalist for the 2013 AWA Arts & Culture Award

It was my first big award in the UK, she says. It boosted my confidence and energised me to go forward, both in life and in my chosen subject area. I started as an apprentice in a busy factory, I had no opportunity to go into higher education. I was determined to become a scientist, and so I taught myself. I studied diligently, reading and reading. I went to evening school. I wanted to make something of myself and to do my best.

Dame Xiangqian ‘Jane’ Jiang
Professor of Precision Metrology, University of Huddersfield Winner of the 2006 AWA Chairman's Award

I was honoured with the award at a formative time in my career and it had an immense impact on how I saw myself
and my potential. But my abiding sense of what I saw at the awards ceremony that year and every year since was that this has been a forum through with Asian women who never saw themselves as exceptional gained a recognition, often for the very first time, that then powered them further ahead.

Mishal Husein
Host, BBC World News and BBC Weekend News Winner of the 2004 AWA Young Achiever Award

AWA has given me the platform and confidence to aim high and accept no less than the best from myself. I have made lifelong friends, confidantes and mentors since being shortlisted in 2008. In turn, I have gained the self-belief to mentor and advise the women around me. Sure, I’d still be a lawyer if I hadn’t been part of AWA, but my purpose would have remained undiscovered. AWA lifted my gaze and for that I will be eternally grateful to Pinky and her fantastic vision.

Sharmila Mehta
Senior Counsel, Farrer & Co Finalist for the 2008 AWA Professions Award

When they say, ‘everyone is a winner’, became entirely true for me. I was one of the finalist in the Entrepreneur category in 2003. I didn’t have to win to feel empowered. Just being a finalist opened many doors for me and certainly widened my horizons. I was on ‘Woman’s Hour’, I was asked to sit on panels, and mentor other young entrepreneurs.
The Women of the Future Network encompasses so many divergent and vibrant women. Just being in their midst energises one and make one feel that anything is achievable.This is not always about business but also about friendship, comradery and fellowship. It has enriched my life.

Shernaz Engineer
CEO, Verity Appointments Finalist for the 2003 AWA Entrepreneur Award

I knew that it was special being nominated for and winning the Asian Women of Achievement award for work in the Media. Getting recognition for your work from your peers, from business leaders from the wider business world is not only gratifying but is a huge confidence boost to do even better.  I felt honoured but as I learnt the ethos and values of the awards embodied in the founder, Pinky Lilani, I felt an enormous pride that this award should be a celebration not just for me, but also for all Asian women who are achieving great things every day without recognition. I felt a huge responsibility to use this honour to support and mentor women to gain the recognition they deserve and to make a difference in the world.Winning the award was not only a wonderful launchpad for me personally and professionally, but it gave me the confidence and self-belief to do more, not just for myself, but for others and this is what makes these awards so special and unique. Since the award, I have continued to work in television production on successful shows and I have used my business skills on the West of England LEP board, helping to attract £90m of investment to the South West.  I have also pursued my love for food by writing a book about spices and health – Spice Yourself Slim – and I founded a charity called ’91 Ways to Build A Global City’ which is breaking down barriers and building greater understanding between Bristol’s 91 language communities. That work in changing people’s lives was recognised by a Woman of the Year award and a nomination for the Inspiration Award for the Guild of Food Writers. I have also been selected to be a face of the Vibrant Economy for Grant Thornton for 2017.I don’t think I would have been able to achieve any of this without the opportunity and confidence the AWA award gave me and I hope I can inspire and empower other women to believe they can achieve their dreams too.

Kalpna Woolf
Founder, 91 Ways to Build A Global City Winner for the 2013 AWA Media Award

It was an absolute honour to win the Chairman’s Award at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards in 2015. It came as a complete surprise and I still remember that moment it was announced on the night as if it was yesterday. So, what does it mean? First and foremost , being publically recognised for my work has given me an inner confidence to realise my potential. Such an endorsement has empowered me to continue with my projects linked to health and community service. In a way, winning has been a blessing and opened so many doors and given me endless new opportunities. I have also met so many amazing people in many other fields – it is like I have inherited a new AWA family.

Jyoti Shah
Consultant Urological Surgeon, Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Winner for the 2015 AWA Chairman's Award

Since being the recipient of the prestigious AWA 2015 in the Sport category, my life has changed 360°, in a positive way. It has given me a platform to empower, inspire, and more importantly educate young women, make them realize that with hard work, sacrifice, dedication and commitment, dreams can and do come true – I’m living proof! The AWA awards exposed me to the rest of the world as a professional elite coach and broke the barriers I have encountered pursuing my dream. I have won Sky Sports Women 2015 Hellen Rollason award for inspiration, WeAreTheCity Sports Winner 2015 and I have been invited to speak at FIFA International Women Conference 2016. I have used these blessed opportunities to be the voice and cheerleader for all the young women who are dreaming of a bright future, but are suffering discrimination and lack of self confidence in silence.

Annie Zaidi
FA BAME, The FA Winner of the 2015 AWA Sport Award

I feel so very privileged to have won an AWA Award. The win has given me a renewed responsibility of being a role model. I want to use the award to help the young people I mentor to recognise that they too can achieve their goals. I also believe it will help me to strengthen my own voice within the communications industry I work in, to promote ethnically diverse cultures in businesses, something which is much needed. The award has pushed me out of my comfort zone and has started to change my life.  Ultimately, it is a dream come true and something I will forever cherish

Deepa Shah
CFO, Hall & Partners Winner of the 2016 AWA Business Award

My Asian roots are based on a culture which celebrates and encourages women to not be too ambitious, to blend in with society. So for most of my life, I have been largely invisible – until winning the 2016 Asian Woman of Achievement, Entrepreneur Award.
The awards really did put me in the spotlight, helping me to recognise that I am an entrepreneur and that yes, I can achieve. It made me a very visible example for many other women and their young daughters to see as a beacon of hope that someone like them, an Asian woman, can succeed.
Since winning the award, I have been recognised as one of the 2017 Women to Watch inLuxury, and Tengri has grown to support 4,500 nomadic herder families in Mongolia, increasing their incomes by as much as 10 to 18 fold. The business has been recognised by Sustainia100 as a global sustainable solution, delivering against four United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
I am incredibly proud of this award and feel very privileged to be recognized in a way that has enhanced my self-belief. I believe I have a duty and responsibility to inspire and encourage other woman and young girls to make their dreams a reality.

Nancy Johnston
CEO and Founder, Tengri Winner of the 2016 Entrepreneur Award

We all know it takes a lot of courage, hard work, perseverance and in some cases luck to be successful in any industry. But we often forget one very important factor. It also takes a believer, a stepping stone.
A previous AWA award winner (and a complete stranger) Tanya Datta nominated me in January 2016 for the AWA Arts & Culture award. Against all odds and fierce competition, I was honoured with the award in May 2016!
Since then I’ve been invited to several schools and libraries, have received some very heart-warming messages from children and many lovely testimonials. I’ve also got many more school and library visits in the pipeline.
The Asian Women of Achievement awards, has been my stepping stone.

Shweta Aggarwal
Creator, Dev and Ollie Books Winner of the 2016 Arts & Culture Award
Our chairman

“This is the 25th year of the Asian Women of Achievement awards, the most established and prestigious programme for Asian business leaders, community workers and cultural figures in the UK. When I started this project, my hope was to spotlight talented but often unsung Asian women. Today, our vision is that these awards should be the pre-eminent platform for celebrating the contribution of diverse cultures and talents to UK society.”

Chairman, Asian Women of Achievement Awards
Founder, Women of the Future Programme

Our Patrons
Cherie Blair

It is a privilege to be patron of these wonderful and important awards. They are a fantastic showcase of the phenomenally talented Asian women in the UK today and I encourage you to get involved in this year’s campaign. Each year I am humbled by the wealth of talent showcased at the awards and the stories of achievement across British life.

HRH Princess Badiya bint El Hassan

I am delighted to be involved with these wonderful awards. The awards are a great way to celebrate the broad range of achievements of Asian women in Britain, and to encourage future successes. Winning and indeed being shortlisted for one of these accolades is a valuable credential.