1. She’s local and proud
The 31-year-old was born in Squamish, BC but relocated to Surrey a few years later and has lived there since. Through the last few years since VMW’s inception, she’s advocated for events and programs to be in Surrey to meet the needs of young women like her, who live in Surrey BC. Shahin explains, “It’s important for me to be part of something that Muslim girls can look up to, belong to, see that they can achieve anything, and literally be anything they want. I don’t want other girls to go through the same experiences as me because I have a feeling that so many people go through the same sh*t, and when you see women like you, who look like you from the same city as you, it makes it a real sisterhood to go through it together.” Surrey makes up the largest percentage of VMW members and Shahin works hard to ensure that the needs of her community are met locally.
2. Her friends describe her as honest, caring and sarcastic
Shahin has a powerful presence, a fierce demeanour; but also a professional calmness to her. She’s also uber-organized and detail orientated which helps her shine in her role at VMW. However, if you ask her closest friends to describe her, they choose: honest, caring and sarcastic.
3. Professional Her-Story
Originally, Khan wanted to pursue a career as a lawyer but didn’t want the 8-year commitment or financial debt just to realize, in the end, it wasn’t for her. She then began her journey as a Legal Administrative Assistant, immediately after receiving her Diploma she began working for a Plaintiff based firm than a year later switched over to the ‘dark side’ to work for a Defense firm where she quickly realized this path wasn’t for her. Unsure of what career path to take next, Khan stayed put and perfected her legal skills which eventually led her to obtain a role within ICBC’s legal department in 2014. After a decade of legal work, she learned all there was to learn and was in dire need of a change so Khan transitioned into the insurance side of ICBC as a Customer Service Adjuster, which is the role she currently holds. Ultimately, Khan’s career of choice at this point would be to work full-time for VMW.
4. Finding purpose in her IG feed
Shahin’s initial interest in VMW was just to find some purpose. It’s a grand question, and she scrolled down her IG feed looking for inspiration on a low day until she came across Aisha Azba Amijee’s (VMW’s Founder) post. After a few different posts about Aisha working in the community, she decided to reach out via DM about volunteering opportunities and was instantly bombarded with yes, join us now! After an interview, she was asked to lead VMW in the role of Membership Coordinator and within a few months, she grew into the role of Operations Manager and eventually joined the Board.
5. Her # WCW
When asked about a celebrity or powerhouse woman in your life who’s inspired you, Shahin admits, “Honestly, for me, I didn’t know any celebrity women or any courageous women that “inspired” me to make a difference or anything until I met Azba (Aisha).” Aisha has pushed Shahin to grow from public speaking to taking on the responsibility to lead within the organization and community since 2017. Shahin laughed out loud and shared enthusiastically, “Sometimes, she’ll tell me 2 mins before a large crowd that she’s going to introduce me and call me on stage to say a few words. In those moments, I would hate her because she would put me on the spot, not let me say no and push me out of my comfort zone but looking back, I see those moments as opportunities for growth that she offered and I took on. And it goes without saying, I love her for it now!” Shahin knew Aisha before VMW as Azba (her family name) since they grew up in the same community but they had never had a conversation until VMW and realized they shared a passion for empowering and educating women.
6. She never knew she was a feminist
Khan never knew she was a feminist. She explains, “I knew nothing about women empowerment or feminism until I became part of VMW. I realized afterwards that I was always a feminist at heart. I just didn’t know what it was.”
7. She’s been with VMW since the beginning
“I’ve been with VMW from the beginning; since it was an official non-profit foundation registered with the government (Oct 17, 2017). Before that, Aisha had started the original Digital Storytelling course in late 2016 and they had a Film Festival and Awards celebration in April 2017, but it wasn’t an actual foundation then. That occurred right before I joined and I was present at the first official Voices of Muslim Women Foundation team meeting that was held at The HiVE in Vancouver, BC.”
8. She’s kinda new to operations
You wouldn’t be able to tell but Shahin doesn’t have prior experience as an Operations Manager. Before VMW, Shahin had worked in various roles in legal, insurance, administration and retail so she was quite literally thrown into the Operations Manager role without any experience and had to figure it out one event, one program, one HR problem at a time. When asked what she does, Shahin explains, “ Operations entails organizing and overlooking everything we do as an organization, so that means I have my hand in all events, programs, membership stuff etc. plus I take care of all Admin & HR-related tasks as well.”
9. VMW has changed her life
Shahin’s invested in VMW because she’s seen the changes it’s made to her life and others first hand. “I’m so proud of what we’ve built in terms of a community and to see young women like you [Maleekah] and Jaeda start off in our DST programs years ago when you were in high school and now to see you as strong, independent, powerful young women in University pursuing your professional dreams, it makes all the hard work worth it. I joined VMW because I wanted to make a difference to the young Muslim girls and women in my community and I’ve seen that difference time and time again. I’ve also gotten to know and built relationships with many women whom I never would have met otherwise. It’s empowered me to be outspoken and be firmer on my values, for example, I never used to do any public speaking or post on IG, ever!! Now, after three years of working with VMW, I’ve found my voice in person and on social media and I’m proud to use it to do good things in the community. I helped make the sisterhood that I always dreamed of belonging to, even though I didn’t know it then, VMW was what my life was missing.”
Final Count Down Questions:
5 Amazing Women You’ve Met through VMW:
Veen Aldosky, Hajer Khalifa, Zainab Alkoubaisi, Dr. Ayesha Chaudry, Hajer Mohamad.
4 Items You Always Have in Your Purse:
Hand Sanitizer (before COVID); Vaseline, Kleenex (the little tissue packs) and my phone.
3 Words Which Sum Up What VMW Means to You:
Sisterhood, Empowerment, Passion.
2 Disney Characters You Relate to:
Alice from Alice in the Wonderland and Ariel from The Little Mermaid.
1 Human Who Has Been Your Rock: