Q&A with Tahirah Ali – a Wonderful Welsh Woman

11th August 2020

Tahirah has been nominated for our Wonderful Welsh Women campaign by the Ethnic Minorities and Youth Support Team (EYST) Wales. In this interview Tahirah tells us about a day in her life, which women inspired her and her future goals.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

My day-to-day schedule was heavily based around education. As I was still in college, all my volunteering activities were based around that. My day would consist of school lessons and volunteering at the homework club during the week. Having a part time job and studying for exams was mainly what took up my weekends.

What do you enjoy most about what you do? What gets you out of bed in the morning?

I definitely enjoy the environment and the people I work with. Also being able to see that you have made a positive difference and impact on an individual is the force that kept me wanting to help more in my community.

What has your career progression looked like? Where did you start? Have you always known what you wanted to do?

I have always known that I was interested in the healthcare and science field but didn’t know exactly what it was that I was looking for. Making a difference and helping improve someone’s quality of life is something I am still striving to achieve within my chosen career.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

Becoming a Youth Ambassador for Wales via the #iWill campaign. I say this achievement because it has given me a platform to reach a more varied audience but also to widen my network with other like-minded individuals and organisations. Becoming a youth ambassador has allowed me to work with the likes of the WCVA and the Diana Awards.

What would you like to achieve before you retire?

Before I retire, I would like to have achieved a major sporting achievement, as it is very unheard of in my community for a Muslim female to participate in such things. Being able to have an impact on more Muslim women taking up sports and creating a space where they feel comfortable to participate in exercise is another goal for the future.

Who were your role models when you were starting out?

Growing up, I didn’t know anyone who was interested in sports and who was like me.

Were there any women that inspired you as a girl or young woman?

Many of the females that inspired me were members of my family. They were always involved in different events and non-profit organisations. These played a huge role in setting my foundations for wanting to be an active member of my community.

Which female role models inspire you today?

Thanks to social media, I have been exposed to more females in sport. Globally I have found more and more women who are involved in weightlifting and especially Muslim women.

Were there any women in your life that lifted you up, empowered you and helped you to believe in yourself?

To this day, my mum is a woman who has always been my role model and motivation. The team at EYST (ethnic youth support team) have also been a large part of my support system. These women have provided me with many different opportunities to be able to help others in my community.

Do you think that women role models are visible enough?

In my community? No.

I say this because I know that there are many women who are achieving amazing things but do not realise the impact they have had within their community.

What more do you think should be done to promote the achievements of women?

Having a monthly Instagram post for amazing women in and around Wales that are helping and making a positive impact within their community or even nationally.

What do you think are the barriers facing women?

The fear of being judged by others in their community. Any woman will face this major barrier when she is trying to impact her community in any way. The lack of knowledge of where and how to get started.

Are there any barriers specific to your field of work facing women?

I have faced many barriers when trying to change perceptions of women who weightlift. The fear of the unknown is definitely one of the biggest barriers I have faced not only from myself but also from my community. This is a very male dominated field so having the confidence to be in such a daunting environment is a challenge that I have personally had to overcome.

What advice would you give your ten year old self?

  • It’s ok to be overweight. This is something I struggled with my whole childhood.
  • Keep going to those fundraising events and keep on volunteering because you have so much and there are people who need the support and help.
  • Don’t worry about what others say, if you enjoy it, keep on going.

What advice would you give to young women today?

I would definitely say:

If there is something that you can see needs improving or you personally have experienced dissatisfaction at any point in your life and see others go through the same thing, find a way to implement changes. Not only will you benefit from solving the issues but also many others will benefit. Women understand other women so joining forces will definitely make the journey more enjoyable.

The campaign will culminate in a live vote during Chwarae Teg’s Womenspire awards on 29 September – which will lead to one woman receiving the People’s Choice trophy. This year, due to Covid19, the awards will take place online but nevertheless promises to be a night to remember.
11th Aug 2020