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Inspirational Asian women honoured at AWA 2013

A young lawyer who triumphed over a crippling developmental disorder to become a star lawyer at Ernst & Young, and a former molecular biologist who overcame the tragic death of her father to set up the largest family entertainment in Sheffield were among 13 inspirational women honoured at the annual Asian Women of Achievement Awards May 15.

The awards, founded by author and activist Pinky Lilani and first given out in 1999, recognizes outstanding Asian women in a range of fields and disciplines.

The top accolade of the night, the Chairman's Award, was given Sue Kokadia, a talented young lawyer and director of global immigration at Ernst & Young.  

Judges praised Kokadia for her inspirational personal journey, overcoming the crippling congenital disorder Spina Bifida to become one of the fastest rising stars at the global services giant.  

The Entrepreneurial Asian Woman of Achievement was given Sipra Deb, who gave up a successful career as a molecular biologist and the murder of her father to set up an entertainment arena in Sheffield which has been praised for "changing the way families and communities interact".

Female empowerment was the theme of the evening, a message repeated by winners and guests who included Cherie Blair, long term patron of the Awards, an in-form Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York and Miriam Gonzalez-Durrantez, wife of Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg who looked ravishing in a emerald sari.

In keeping with the empowerment theme, judges in each category rewarded women who not only excelled in their chosen fields but used their status and resources to help uplift the lives of women in their communities and beyond.

Among the other notable winners on the night were Young Asian Woman of Achievement, Sanju Pal, a 26-year-old high flyer at Accenture and founder of RISE, a charity which raises funds for underprivileged children in India through citizenship activities in the UK; Asian Woman of Achievement in Sport honouree Monica Thandi, an award-winning Netball player and founder of the Netball Development Trust which works to introduce sports to children in rural Africa and India; and the Public Service award winner Tab Ahmad, Managing Director of EmployAbility which helps disabled students with the transition from education to employment.

The full list of winners:

Asian Woman of Achievement Chairman's Award - Sue Kokadia, Director, Global Immigration at Ernst & Young

Entrepreneurial Asian Woman of Achievement - Sipra Deb, Founder, The Play Arena, Sheffield#

Professional Asian Woman of Achievement - Ishrat Bano, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Cambridge

Young Asian Woman of Achievement - Sanju Pal, Accenture Consultant and Founder of RISE

Asian Woman of Achievement in Arts & Culture - Lolita Chakbarti, Actress and Writer and Shalini Bhalla, Founder, Just Jhoom!

Asian Woman of Achievement in Sport - Monica Thandi, Founder, Netball Development Trust

Asian Woman of Achievement in Business - Grace Wang, Managing Director JP Morgan

Asian Woman of Achievement in Media - Ravinder Bhogal, Broadcaster and Writer and Kalpna Woolf, Head of Production, BBC

Asian Woman of Achievement in Public Service - Tab Ahmad, Managing Director, EmployAbility

Social & Humanitarian Asian Woman of Achievement - Malini Mehra, Founder, Centre for Social Markets

Asian Woman of Achievement Community Award - The Home Office

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