Human rights campaigner, author and International Woman of the Year 2006, Zerbanoo Gifford, is the founder of the ASHA Centre. Zerbanoo is recognised as a pioneer for Asian women in British public life. She made political history when elected as a councillor for the Liberals in 1982 as the first non-white woman. She then went on to be the first Asian woman to contest a Parliamentary election, which she did on three occasions. A former advisor to the British Home Secretary, and chair of the Race Relations Forum, she has also chaired the Commission, ‘Looking into ethnic minority involvement in British Life’.
A patron of numerous international organisations, Zerbanoo is the Founder Director of the ASHA Foundation, which encourages and supports philanthropy worldwide and works for interfaith and intercultural understanding, especially among the young. She has been the director of Anti-Slavery International, London Organiser for Shelter, and helped set up Charities Aid Foundation in India.
Zerbanoo holds numerous international awards for her humanitarian work, which spans over thirty years of grassroots and global activism.
These include: the Nehru Centenary Award for her work championing the rights of women, children and minorities; she was given the Freedom of the City of Lincoln, Nebraska, for her work combating modern slavery and racism; in 2006 she was awarded the International Woman of the Year and in 2007, she received the international Splendor Award in Hollywood, for her lifetime achievements in the field of equality and human rights. In 2010 to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of American Suffrage she was honoured by the Sewall-Belmont Museum in Washington DC in an exhibition commemorating key women who advanced women’s rights.
Zerbanoo has authored seven books: “The Golden Thread: Asian Experiences of Post-Raj Britain”; “Dadabhai Naoroji: Britain's First Asian MP”; “The Asian Presence in Europe”; “South Asian Funding in the UK”; “Celebrating India”; “Thomas Clarkson and the Campaign against the Slave Trade”; “Confessions to a Serial Womaniser: Secrets of the World’s Inspirational Women”.
‘Confessions’ features interviews with 300 exceptional women from 60 countries. The book, accompanying website (www.ashacentre.org click on Inspirational Women) and international mentoring project are the result of Zerbanoo’s being awarded a NESTA (National Endowment of Science, Technology and Arts) Fellowship. The website mentoring project is now being developed into a multi-media resource.
Zerbanoo has also been a magazine editor and written widely on historical, social and political themes, with all proceeds from her writings going to nominated charities. She is a sought-after, dynamic speaker, and often appears in the media as a commentator on current affairs. She is married to Richard, an international lawyer, known for his work with the displaced Chagos Islanders. They have two sons, Mark and Alex.