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Hundreds of women gathered on Saturday 17 March 2012 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, for an evening of education and inspiration in commemoration of International Women’s Day 2012.

The Mandir hosted the national event with a programme to honour the ‘unsung heroines’ of society – highlighting the commendable work of women who may not be in the public eye or widely considered successful, yet who are inspirational role models nonetheless. The event also included dance and cultural performances as part of an overall gala awards ceremony.

Awards that were presented included tributes to young achievers, those who have offered tireless community and public service, and women of special strength. Invited guests included Brent Borough’s youngest ever elected councillor, Krupa Sheth, and Dawn Butler, British Labour Party politician.

Krupa Sheth, 20, spoke of how, if it were not for the support of her family and her education at The Swaminarayan School, she would not be where she is today. She went on to say that she hoped that her recent election win would inspire others to achieve their goals.

Rena Amin, one of the lead volunteers helping organise the event, explained: “The main message we hope to share is that there are inspiring women all around us and we can learn so much from them. A seemingly simple housewife can not only teach us how to help raise a strong and happy family, but also about multitasking, prioritising and managing expectations. A young professional can inspire youngsters to excel in their studies and scale great heights. If we individually take the time to talk to others and listen to their stories, we would have the potential to learn and develop beyond expectation.”

Pooja Patel, 18, of Wellingborough won the Young Achievers Award. Pooja is a high-achiever academically as well as in extra-curricular activities, and has recently secured a scholarship to study Biomedicine at the University of East Anglia. She said, “I never expected to get this award, but I’m really pleased. I’ve always been taught to work hard, and the Mandir has given me the spiritual strength and guidance to strive for progress in each area of my life. I'm really grateful for that.”

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