Sara Khan

Meet the groundbreaking activist who’s fighting extremism

As part of our Future Shapers series, in partnership with Neutrogena, we've scoured the country to find 2016's hot new innovators...

The groundbreaking activist
: Sara Khan, 36

As co-director of Inspire, a counter-extremism and gender equality organisation, Khan empowers women and young people who are vulnerable to extremist ideology

Don’t rely on anyone else’s approval. There are people who oppose our work, whether it’s fighting Islamist extremism or campaigning for gender equality within Muslim communities, but I believe what I’m doing is right. People will try to put you down, smear your reputation and discredit your work but don’t allow that to shape you in a negative way – use it as ammunition to further your goals.

Follow your gut instinct. I was a hospital pharmacist, but I knew I wasn’t fulfilling my potential. I have had a deep passion for defending human rights ever since I can remember.

Sara Khan

Sara Khan

Doing nothing will achieve nothing. When three girls from Bethnal Green ran away to join ISIS last year, I felt compelled to do something. Nobody else was going to. So I wrote an open letter on my website to young Muslim girls, discouraging them from joining ISIS. 
The letter went viral and my hope is that it may have even saved some women from future brutality and death.

You have to take a risk to make a difference. I gave up a steady job and a good salary to step into unchartered territory: a women’s rights organisation led by women, which was unique at the time. Other Muslim organisations didn’t like the fact that we sought to challenge extremism and champion women’s rights, so we had a lot of opposition.

All you need is a laptop and Wi-Fi. The internet is key to making an impact on the national stage. When we started Inspire I was pregnant and working from home. We had no funding, no office, and little resources. But we made it work.

#passiton ‘If you’re scared, you’re probably on to something. Feel the fear and do it anyway.’

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