Zara Mohammed, the secretary-general of The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), has been named as the University of Strathclyde’s Alumna of the Year 2023.
Glasgow-born Ms Mohammed is the first woman leader of the MCB, an organisation that represents mosques, Islamic schools and Muslim associations in the UK.
Now in its 30th year, the Alumna/Alumnus of the Year Award celebrates the outstanding accomplishments of Strathclyde’s alumni from around the world in the arts, sciences, sports, and in business, public or academic life.
The Award was presented in recognition of Ms Mohammed’s outstanding work as the Secretary General of MCB, as well as her consultancy work focusing on women in leadership.
Ms Mohammed graduated in Human Rights Law from Strathclyde in 2016 and became the first woman to lead the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, representing 115,000 students across the UK.
She was elected as Secretary-General of the MCB in 2021 having served as Assistant Secretary General. As well as being the first woman, she is the first Scot and the youngest person to hold the post at the age of 29. Earlier this year, she was re-elected for the 2023-2025 term.
In an address to the audience at the graduation ceremony in Strathclyde’s Barony Hall where the award was made, Therese O’Donnell, Reader in the Law School, said: “Zara embodies Strathclyde values and is a role-model for those who aspire to be successful in public life by being as socially inclusive and progressive as possible.
“Zara has demonstrated boldness and ambition in her career. As the Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain she pursues collaboration to achieve a more diverse and understanding society.
“Zara’s experience of Strathclyde was immensely rewarding. Her involvement in the Islamic society, her campaign for the Strathclyde Union Presidency and her memorable oration at the re-opening of Strathclyde Chaplaincy, all highlighted Zara’s potential.
“Zara focuses on challenging stereotypes, particularly about the role of Muslim women. She has attributed much of her success to one particular Muslim woman – her mother, Kausur who started working when Zara was born because she wanted her little daughter to have a powerful role model.
Zara hails from Glasgow and as a proud Scot cherishes this identity, noting that it imbues us with determination, bestows resilience and ingrains an outwards gaze as we look for inspiration and to see where we can contribute.
Ms Mohammed said: “When I was elected I had a journalist say to me ‘many people that have your position are much older and much wiser, do you think you have the wisdom to do the job?’. And I said ‘well, I’ve got the energy and the drive and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to learn, and guess what – wisdom comes with experience’. And what I found in myself was a bit of Scottish power and fire. I guess what Strathclyde really taught me was to believe in myself and my potential. I am immensely grateful for this award.”
The first winner of the Alumna/Alumnus of the Year Award was Linda Arnot in 1993 – the first ever blind teacher of sighted children in Scotland.