(Picture: Simrah Farrukh)There aren’t a lot of platforms dedicated solely to celebrate the achievements, journeys, and experiences of Asian women.
To try and change that comes the aptly named Asian Woman Festival – a one-day event based on the theme of identity explored through culture, conversation, and art.
You can expect to see spoken word poets, singers, and live discussions on topics close to the diaspora experience.
And what’s an Asian event without food? You’ll be fed all the good stuff, including hot samosas and sweet jalebis.
The event is the brainchild of Shani Dhanda, a columnist and disability rights activist, who wants to shed light on British Asian lives.
She wants more representation of South Asians who make up one of the largest ethnic groups in the UK.
Part of the event is also about acknowledging the past and the racism that early migrants to the country faced and how it manifests today.
Disability rights activist Shani Dhanda is the person who’s bought the cultural festival together (Picture: Shani Dhanda)Shani was born with a rare genetic condition known as Brittle Bone Disease and often feels physically otherised. Because of other facets of her identity which make her different from the norm, Shani says she has learned the importance of being intersectional.
That means when talking about the Asian community, mentioning the good and the bad, whether that’s the lack of support for disability rights, colourism, conversations on sex and sexuality.
‘I regularly speak on discussions around disability, intersectionality and inclusion matters,’ she told Metro.co.uk, ‘I’m driven by the impulse to challenge perceptions and create positive change by my everyday lived experience of feeling excluded and underrepresented in society.
‘I’ve never had a space to talk about all the features that make up my whole identity, so I created it – because true diversity is intersectional.’
Shani also explained that a lot of British Asian attitude to things is due to how they were parented,
‘From the 1950s onwards, due to racism and being few in number, many Asians lived in a tight-knit community in order to support each other and hold on to their sense of identity in a foreign land.
‘Their values and cultural traditions passed down to their British born children, which is why as a community we find it difficult to talk about topics such as disability, sexuality, and relationships even amongst the younger generations.
‘These are still massive taboo issues in our community.’
But the Asian Woman Festival hopes to be a safe space to tackle these subjects, giving attendees to discuss, network and celebrate the ever-vibrant culture and traditions of being Asian.
Special guests include singer-songwriter Amrit Kaur Lohia and spoken word poet Jaspreet Kaur, and it’s hosted by Shay Grewal from BBC Radio London.
It’ll be held in Birmingham on 30 March and you can buy tickets here. And remember, you don’t have to be Asian – or a woman – to attend.
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