Graduate News: Nazia Khatun wins Sportswoman of the Year at the Baton Awards 2018

Sociology graduate Nazia Khatun was awarded Sportswoman of The Year Award at the Baton Awards 2018, which recognises and rewards best practice and success in the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community.

Nazia has changed the lives of thousands of women since beginning her career as a boxer – now a trailblazer in the BAME community and beyond. After suffering from bulimia and depression, she reinvented herself as a body transformation coach. Nazia, an amateur boxer who grew up in a Bangladeshi household with five younger siblings, was inspired by a visit from the late Muhammad Ali’s daughter, Laila, at her college.

“When I first started I got the attention of domestic violence victims. I was fixing these broken females. In our community, we don’t talk about things like sexual abuse, depression, mental health and domestic violence.

These topics are associated with shame and honour; honour is the most important thing for the Asian community, often things get brushed under the carpet. It can create long-term depression, there’s too much pressure on achievement and being successful.”

The awards shine a spotlight on BAME female executives, entrepreneurs, scientists, creatives, activists and organisations run by women. The 2018 winners of the Baton Awards celebrate BAME women of past, present and future and were announced at The Houses of Parliament on Thursday, 29 November 2018. Designed to inspire BAME women by celebrating pioneers and innovators, the Baton Awards also actively activate change at a grassroots level and create a surge in the myriad of industries that currently aren’t being accessed by the female BAME community.

With the rise of #MeToo, 2018 is being hailed ‘The Year of The Woman’ and this is the circle of progress that the Baton Awards 2018 is based firmly upon. This milestone event gathered a pipeline of the world’s leading BAME figures, including the evenings hosts Charlene White and Gillian Joseph. Over 200 nominees, supporters and young people were in attendance and joined by Dawn Butler MP, who delivered a breath-taking speech on the importance of celebrating BAME women.

The next generation are at the heart of the Baton Awards – complimentary tickets were given to young people with the aim to inspire. The event raised more than £1,800 for the charity Strength With In Me, a non-profit organisation that provides comprehensive intervention in response to the prevalence of domestic abuse among young girls and women.

The event happened during a 16-day of action campaign designed to fall specifically on International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, which focuses on the work of women who defend the human rights of women and girls.

Nominations from across the world were submitted for consideration in categories including Entrepreneur of the Year, Third Sector of the Year, Thought Leader of the Year, STEM Trailblazer of the Year among others – winners were chosen by 30+ pioneering judges.

Image credit: Ernest Simons Photography