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Shabana Azmi's Story
Shabana Azmi is a critically acclaimed Indian actress and global leader for women’s and girl’s empowerment. Often referred to as India’s Meryl Streep she has won the prestigious National Award for Best Actress an unprecedented five times and several international awards.
Azmi has been commended for outstanding achievements as a global leader on the status of women. In 1989, she was one of sixteen women honored by President Mitterand of France in celebration of the bicentenary of International Human Rights. In 2002, Azmi was awarded the Martin Luther King, Park and Chavez Award by Michigan State University. In 2006, she was awarded the Gandhi International Peace Prize at the House of Lords in London and the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum along with Michael Douglas and Mohammed Ali (Cassius Clay).
She has been Goodwill Ambassador on Population and Development with the UNFPA, the Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS with SAARC ,the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation, and a Global Ambassador for the Women in Public Service Project.
Azmi believes art should be used as an instrument for social change and is also a committed social activist. She has worked extensively with slum dwellers in Mumbai with Nivara Hakk, a housing rights NGO of which she was President, and provided houses for free to 50,000 people in Mumbai evicted from their homes. It is the largest single resettlement project in Asia. She heads the NGO Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS) founded by her father that works for the empowerment of rural India with a focus on women and girls. Strong mentorship and financial independence has transformed the lives of these women who have become active participants in decision making both in their families and in their communities.
She has fought relentlessly against religious fundamentalism of all hues and is highly respected as a moderate, liberal Muslim voice.
Shabana Azmi has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from St. Xaviers College, and Honorary Doctorates from Leeds Metropolitan University, Jamia Milia University, Viswa Bharti University, and Simon Fraser University. She is married to Javed Akhtar, an Urdu poet, film lyricist and a script writer in Hindi cinema. She is Chairperson of the board of Action Aid India and member of the International board of BRAC in Bangladesh.