One boss lady in hijab participating in our feature photoshoot is Maliha Khan Ahmed. Maliha Khan Ahmed is a visionary, a community leader, a political activist and host of a talk show known to tackle taboo issues with fearlessness. She is the type of woman who thrives in this challenging, demanding and multifaceted role.
Maliha started a Not for Profit Organization three years ago with a team of strong women. The primary purpose of “Milton Muslim Moms” is to create and promote an inclusive community empowered by diversity in every form imaginable and help people who are in need. If that wasn’t enough, Maliha is also the first hijabi who elected as president of a political party riding association and works on a grassroots level, and is a fierce advocate of human rights. She is a Boss Lady who believes in breaking a glass ceiling and taking a front line position.
Let us get to know more about her.
1. Please introduce yourself: Your name, where you’re from, where do you currently live.
-My name is Maliha Khan Ahmed, I’m a Canadian of Pakistani origin and currently live in Milton, Ontario.
2. What projects are you involved in and when did you get started?
-I started “Milton Muslim Moms” in 2014 as a Facebook group. In 2015, when the world was shocked by the images emerging out from war torn Syria, me and a few like minded women decided to sponsor Syrian refugees. We held our first fundraiser for Syrian refugees in 2016, and right after we registered ourselves as a “not for profit”. And that was just the beginning: we started working with several mainstream Canadian charities. To date we have raised funds for Milton Hospital, Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Way Halton and Hamilton and have done countless warm meal and clothing drives for homeless people in downtown Toronto.
I m extremely proud of introducing Milton Muslim Moms Excellence Awards. Every year Milton Muslim Moms recognizes 3 extraordinary women’s work. I personally think that women from marginalized communities get very little recognition for their amazing work. We also give away an award for youth leadership every year.
Our organization runs on volunteer work and all our charity work is actually a result of selfless giving of our 8000+ members. There is no grant or government assistance involved. During covid-19 there were fleet of MMM volunteers doing PPE for health care workers, we sent them out to different hospitals around GTA,
I am also hosting a TV show “Voice Of Change with Maliha Khan Ahmed” on an ethnic tv channel Canada One TV, my topics mostly focus on women issues and marginalized communities.
3. What inspired & motivated you to start these projects?
I have always been involved in community work. In my teens I used to volunteer in “Dar ul Sukoon” which is a home for abandoned children with disabilities. In 2005 when terrible earthquake shook the Kashmir region I was in Scarborough, Canada. I asked people to donate something new and than sat up a garage sale in a community hall raising $7000. I contacted Canadian tire to give us tents and other equipment on a discounted price. They immediately replied and donated 40 tents and lots of other supplies. I learned very early in my life that if you want to change something than instead of looking around, take the first step and initiate it yourself and things eventually start falling in place.
4. What are your life goals?
I am a very laid back person and usually go with the flow, but I have a few short term goals. One of them is starting a soup kitchen with MMM volunteers. The women in our community have untapped potential. They are a huge support and Alhumdullilah they never disappoint us, the minute we ask them to volunteer or for funds, the help starts pouring in.
5. What were the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Yes! There are few obstacles too , in 2016 we’ve started a youth program, but than we had to roll it back due to the shortage of funds, we are looking for ways to restart this program for our next generation. And I know that by the grace of Gad we will overcome this hurdle too.
6. Random fact most of the people do not know about you?
I love colouring, my de stressing thing is to spend hours colouring pictures, I am a collector of pencil colours, crayons, markers. Just Looking at hues make me happy.
7. The best advice you ever received was?
-the best advice I actually got from my father, once he told me that there are two wolves living in you, one is evil and the other one is good, and they feed on your emotions and deeds, the bad one eats on your anger, jealousy, arrogance and the good one needs peace, empathy and compassion. So it really depends on you which wolf you want to be stronger and powerful.
8. Definition of success is?
Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success, if u love what you are doing and it makes u happy than u r successful, don’t equate success with money.
9. If I could go back in time when I started I would tell myself…
That sometimes saying no is imperative.
11. How do you balance your work & home life?
-Masha Allah I have five children plus two other children living with us, so actually we have a huge household but miraculously every child is very self sufficient. So if I m busy with something they know how to fend for themselves, plus I mostly have my children with me during my community engagements, I want them to be involved from early on.
12. Hobbies, interests. How do you unwind yourself?
I love to read and sew, I have done my fashion designing diploma from IADT in downtown Toronto but now I sew a lot less as my cat finds the movement of my machine’s needle so fascinating, and once it injured her paw, so now I sew scarcely.
13. What is a day in your life like?
My day is usually quiet busy, especially in covid with 7 year old doing homeschooling, so I finish checking my emails and work related things by 12:30 PM. At this time Zainab’s school gets done too, and than I can do my outside engagements, my meetings are usually scheduled at this time! I always try to get done by 3:30 PM, than I finish my cooking, help kids finishing their homework etc. 7:30 is dinner time, and we tend to spend big chunk of time around dinner table with whole family there, cracking jokes, discussing issues etc. Being referee is also a huge part of parent hood. 10:00 pm is always my time on my writing desk, doing research for whatever program I m about do that week, and by midnight you will find me on my bed!
14. What advice would you give to others who want to pursue their passion?
Consistency ! In order to get success you need to be tenacious, don’t let small failures discourage you! With every failure you are going to learn something new, which is going to be beneficial in your journey
15. How can we find you online- social media platforms sites & personal site & email?
Twitter: Maliha Khan Ahmed
Instagram: Maliha Khan Ahmed
Photographs by Maahi Mehdi