Kashmiri girl awarded Oxford Women’s Fellowship 2020-21

Sehar Iqbal, a Kashmir based social activist and humanitarian is from Kokernag Anantnag
Sehar Iqbal, a Kashmir based social activist and humanitarian is from Kokernag Anantnag

SRINAGAR — Sehar Iqbal, a Kashmir based social activist and humanitarian has been awarded the prestigious Oxford-Wanakaset Women’s Scholarship 2020-21. Sehar became the first Kashmiri to earn the prestigious scholarship.

The scholarship is awarded to a female candidate on the basis of academic excellence demonstrated through degree results, previous university prizes, leadership skills and awards and other academic achievements.

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Hailing from Remote village of Wangam, Kokernag area of Anantnag district, Sehar Iqbal Khanday has 15 years of work experience in Kashmir, UK, Tajikistan and Bangladesh. She has worked in 2004 Tsunami in Tamil Nadu, 2005 earthquake in Tangdar and Uri, the 2007 SIDR cyclone in Bangladesh, the Muzaffarnagar communal riots in Uttar Pradesh, the 2014 floods and recently, in the COVID-19 lockdown in both divisions of Kashmir.

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Sehar was a 2012 fellow of the founding class of the Asia Society’s India Pakistan Regional Young Leaders Initiative.

She has worked with the Aga Khan Foundation, the European Commission and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies but after the tragic death of her brother in a car accident in 2011, she started her own non-mandate NGO, The Sajid Iqbal Foundation for Peace and Human Rights, in his memory, which works primarily in Jammu and Kashmir.

Since 2011, the NGO has conducted blood donation camps and provided power backup systems in public hospitals, provided free legal aid and wheelchairs to accident victims, provided relief to flood victims, created craft-based self-help groups for women and helped unemployed people in rural areas with livelihood programs. In current lockdown, Sehar has provided ventilators and PPE kits to various hospitals and has touched over 5000 families in COVID-19 lockdown so far in Kashmir.

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Sehar claims that her biggest support are the people of Kashmir who tirelessly fund and volunteer for the work she does. She considers Parveena Ahanger, and Prof. Jean Dreze (under whom she completed her first PhD) and her mother Kaneez Fatima who was one of the first female judges in the State of J&K as her heroes.

Sehar says her main aim is to make grassroots level work respond to the ever changing needs of the most underprivileged people, in real time.

Sehar will be attending the Saïd Business School in September 2020.

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