People: Lawyer up for top awards

Domestic violence and human rights lawyer Sabrina Khan-Sharma with the Order of Fiji Medal last year. Picture: File/RAMA

Lautoka human rights lawyer Sabrina Khan-Sharma has been nominated by the United Kingdom’s Lead5050 judging panel for two awards — 2021 Mentor of the Year and 2021 Champion of the Year.

The renowned human rights champion said she made a decision to help marginalised single mothers in Fiji because of her experiences as a victim of domestic violence.

“It’s because I have a caring heart for people facing difficult circumstances that I began community empowerment and development projects in Fiji,” she said.

“Add to this, a background of life skills acquired from living in the Middle East, Australia and Fiji over 30 years which helped to shape my perception and helped me to be able to engage in critical appreciative dialogue whilst being open to epistemical humility.

“But that’s not the whole story.

“I am a survivor of domestic violence. I have walked the shoes of a woman in dire need of support in many ways. I understand what it means to have someone believe in you.

“My exposure to surviving domestic violence helped me understand what happens to single mothers who become displaced but still wanted to do something for themselves.

“I saw this prevalent in many lives across Fiji but my heart felt a deep compassion for the women situated in rural areas who were lost, alone and afraid, at times even paralysed with fear by their challenges to education and skillsets.

“Many of them had never worked before, some have not progressed beyond school years, so they had no curriculum vitae, no interview skills, and often no experience with new technology.

“As we know, many people identify themselves based on what they do. So if they lose what they do, they also lose who they are.

“That’s why I decided it was worth the effort to help these women access programs which would support progress in more ways than one.”

The UK’s Lead5050 is a movement designed to boost and empower increased participation of women and women leaders in society and decision-making.

Ms Khan-Sharma’s nominations came as a result of her hard work and efforts in creating community awareness in the fields of domestic violence, poverty alleviation and mentoring platforms across Fiji.

As the founder of the Fiji Rural Women Empowerment Network, she has set a platform for women from rural areas in Fiji to access empowerment, education and attain recognition for courses and programs.

One of Ms Khan-Sharma’s latest programs assisted numerous marginalised women and single mothers to study accounting via a recognised college in the UK.

After successfully completing the program, they were provided with a reference and certificate.

Ms Khan-Sharma said she established the civil society organisation because Fijian women deserved every opportunity to be productive members of society.

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