“……As U.K. Editor for Brown Girl MagazineSejal Sehmi is a globally celebrated media insider – self-described as a ‘writer and full-time thinker’. Her passion for writing has ‘stemmed from challenging society defined rules created for women of her generation.’ Dr Reena invites Sejal to Harley Street to discuss topics further in depth and she reveals how her role within the industry has evolved since starting out.
“…Women are afraid to speak up or come forward because they feel they will not be supported, no one will listen or understand them. Professionals and the police have a lack of understanding around cultural issues and understanding which they must learn before the right support can be given to any victim. …”
Honour based violence survivor and founder of the True Honour charity, Sarbjit Kaur Athwal’s book “Shamed” follows her journey in speaking out against gender violence and finding justice for her sister-in-law who was murdered in the name of family honour. Read the full Brown Girl Magazine feature here
As I lay down flowers outside the grounds of Buckingham Palace to pay my respects to the late Queen Elizabeth II earlier this month, I am taken back to the summer of 2001. My then 4-year-old cousin had decided to throw a royal tantrum outside the palace grounds, once she realised that she wasn’t on Her Majesty’s invite list to the annual Garden Tea Party. “But I want to see the Queen!” she cried. Just like her, I grew up on fairy tales of Kings and Queens living in magical Kingdoms — yet our reality was far from fiction. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, the country’s longest-serving monarch, leaves behind a legacy that will continue to heighten so many emotions and divide views amongst South Asians in the United Kingdom. For many, the history of colonisation and wounds of partition, inflicting my own family, is far from forgotten. Yet, equally there are those, like my immigrant grandmother, wanting to move forward — who not only participated with fellow South Asians in the Queen’s Jubilee celebration in Jun, but waited 12 hours to see the late Queen lying in state — that are simply mourning the matriarch, the mother, the grandmother — who single-handedly served the country for over 70 years. A country that my grandmother calls home. As BGM’s UK Editor, I was well aware of the challenges in bringing together different voices on one platform. Voices of loss, grief, anger and even hope, but voices that need to be heard. I am thankful to my team and all the guests that have contributed such raw emotions.
Following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September 2022, Brown Girl Magazine’s U.K. team along with guest contributors, some who have been associated or recognised by the monarchy, have penned their views on whether this historic moment will shift attitudes towards the significance and standing of the Royal Family. Read the full Brown Girl Magazine opinion link here
Are our expectations as South Asians, of what we perceive as representation within the fashion and beauty industry realistic? Where do we draw the line between cultural appreciation and appropriation. Along with the founders of luxury sports brand The Wolfe London and brand consultant Arooj Aftab, Too British To Be Asian host Sharan Raju tackles all those uncomfortable discussions. Full video below.
Language isn’t the sole identifier in embracing and appreciating your cultural roots, so why do society set benchmarks to determine someone’s cultural appreciation. As UK Editor of Brown Girl Magazine and born into a mixed heritage, I have come across so many stories that relay the same question – why do we struggle with identity? I speak to Sharan Raju – creator of Too British To Be Asian podcast to discuss if these narratives will ever change?
…”..South Asian protagonist Seema’s, “No, I am just a bad Indian girl” response to Carrie Bradshaw’s ‘arranged marriage’ question really irked me! Her character has just played right into that aged narrative that so many single, sorry, happily single, women are trying to break away from. Why can’t, for once, there be a South Asian protagonist who is successful, happy with her single status, without appearing as if she is a rebel with a cause?…”
Brown Girl Magazine writers and readers from across the globe discuss the collective frustration at HBO’s reboot of Sex And the City is a reflection of why poor representation in 2022 is so problematic. Click here to read my full review.
“… My mum has always been my role model – she is an absolute hustler, looking after her business and her family…”
Along with Shirin Shah of SASS and Reshma Chohan, this week I spoke to BBC Radio Leicester’s Shruti Chauhan on what we define as South Asian female role models and their impact and influence within the British South Asian community. Check out the full interview on the BBC Sounds site or click below for the full audio link.
Is the term BAME – Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority Groups outdated and divisive. I speak to BBC Asian Network’s Ankur Desai along with guests Meera Sharma and Karanjee Gaba. Listen to the full interview on the website or full audio below
A vintage gem that speaks a thousand words and needs no filter.. Three generations in one frame, each silently narrating their paths.. The matriarch – my Nani – undeterred by the struggles life has thrown her, and leading her tribe forward with integrity and sincerity.. Her daughter – my mother – who looks on in awe and pride at this woman who has single-handedly raised the next generation, and still clutches my shoulder, oozing maternal love. And little ole me – clinging on to my mum’s hand, knowing I’m in the presence of motherhood and feeling safe and protected. I can’t think of anything more powerful than this…. Selfless, humble and pure love… 💕💕💕💕💕
In conversation with best-selling author Sweta Vikram and creative professor and author Sayatani Dasgupta – as part of South Asian Heritage month we discuss the wonderful world of writing and why our voices matter..!
“….It’s not us who should be silenced or forced into guilt, it is those who hold resentment and fear of what our collective voices can evolve into that need you. Because I certainly don’t and I no longer wish to carry you alongside with me.”
Celebrating International Women’s Day 2020 weekend at South Bank’s Women of the World Festival with Bounce Theatre with our library of joy and bringing together female empowerment with Uma at by Chloe.
What a way to start 2020 than to be featured exclusively on a podcast with the wonderful MK on the Mic. Listed on The Great British Podcasts’ Most Popular Podcasts of 2019, we discuss all things taboo – from sex, cultural appropriation to inter-racial relationships. Available on Spotify and iTunes. Click on the links below to tune in!
“…Published 20 years ago, Meera Syal’s novel was light years ahead of its time. Her words were gospel to my ears as the narrative followed the trials and tribulations of three British Asian young females — all of whom were walking different paths of their lives — yet coming together in sister solidarity. Thus began my understanding of what we often quote as the South Asian diaspora..”
My latest Brown Girl Magazine on celebrating Meera Syal’s iconic novel “Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee” with South Asian Sisters Speak
On Saturday 30 March 2019, the U.K. team of Brown Girl Magazine had the privilege of exhibiting at U.K.’s first Asian Woman Festival at the New Bingley Hall, Birmingham. Not only did we get to display some of our content and stories, but our latest Ladki Power merchandise. Check out the pictures here.
On Friday 8th March, Global Arts Kingston – which aims to create, develop and deliver inter-generation and multicultural events within the local communities of Kingston-Upon-Thames – celebrated International Women’s Day by acknowledging women heroes. Through music, poetry, and special guests speakers Rita Kakati Shah, founder of Uma, and ITV chef Parveen Ashraf, it was a thought-provoking and emotional evening, amplified by inspirational women.
“….“We do not feel the fashion world expects something #Indian-based, as times have changed and people are more open-minded… The Wolfe London want to create more awareness within the South Asian community as that market is very niche and still very new..”
Check out my latest Brown Girl magazine feature on how The Wolfe London – Jenika and Shanil Gudka – have taking their brand to London Fashion Week 2019
“….Actor, feminist, humanitarian — just a few words that describe the dynamite who is Jameela Jamil. It was February 2009, when this quirky, tall and slightly nervous looking British South Asian presenter exploded on to U.K.’s Channel 4. The cynic in me, of course, assumed this was just a strategy to tick the “brown skin on-screen” box. How wrong was I?!…”
Brown Girl Magazine U.K. exhibited “Disrupt” at TedxUCLWomen – a collection of stories at the that represent how, through our platform, across the world, South Asian women are “disrupting” the status quo and shaking up the dialogue in our communities. By championing women of colour who disrupt the narrative of cultural or societal formed norms – through arts, politics, or simply humanitarian channels, these stories are a reflection of how each of these women are shifting paradigms to create their own paths that define their individuality. Check out the photos from the event below.
Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian women globally who believe in the power of storytelling as a vehicle for community building and empowerment. BGM U.K. will display a collection of stories at the TedXUCLWomen exhibition that represent how, through our platform, across the world, South Asian women are “disrupting” the status quo and shaking up the dialogue in our communities. By championing women of colour who disrupt the narrative of cultural or societal formed norms – through arts, politics, or simply humanitarian channels, these stories are a reflection of how each of these women are shifting paradigms to create their own paths that define their individuality.
“….The lack of understanding regarding childhood sexual abuse and traditional views of a patriarchal honour based community, unfortunately, favours the concept of remaining silent and demonising any calls for justice..”
Read all about ANBU – Abuse Never Becomes Us – a charity supporting survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) in the Tamil community and their upcoming event on 17 November in my latest Brown Girl Magazine feature here
…”In the journey of creating an identity on foreign soil, South Asian family and friends alike stick together in times of both successes and struggles. So, should we feel guilty when we turn to a medical professional in moments of despair, if every door around us appears shut?…”
Desi Reads is a reader-focused platform, founded by Anjali Mya Chadha and Sejal Sehmi, to help book lovers find authors and writer’s linked to South Asia. Set up by four avid readers who were forever struggling to find books linked to South Asia, their own experiences and protagonists whom they identify with. We’ll help you discover up-and-coming literary talent and undiscovered gems, all connected to the Indian subcontinent – from exciting books and authors to the hottest blogs. Visit www.thedesireads.com today and check out our exclusive interview with our Featured Writer, Vaseem Khan.
..”So let’s talk! Let’s talk about grief, about loss, about that gap we are feeling. Let’s stop conforming to societal ideals of behavioural patterns, stop the judgement of who is hurting more than who by decibels of cries. Cast aside criticisms of not adhering to customs for the sake of one’s sanity, and an individual’s right to express and not suppress..”
Read my latest feature with Mann Mukti, on breaking stereotypes of dealing with grief.
“It’s often been said that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Being a woman of South Asian descent, however, I firmly believe that there is no bigger love for a desi woman than that of her mother’s soul-infused culinary delights…#FoodForThought reflected precisely that!”
Not enough credit is given to those fathers that raise a daughter to be a feminist and remind me that I am more than just an element of my cultural background – I am me. So Pops, I want to thank you today for being more than just a father, but for being a friend to me and my sisters. You have never let me forget that honesty and sincerity come hand in hand with hard work if I really want to reach for success. Thank you for always supporting me in my life choices and defending me against the stereotypes of following an expected linear path just to uphold societal acceptance. My passion for travelling was inherited from your curiosity of the beauty of this planet and it’s because of the sacrifices you and mum made that I was privileged to explore the world from such a young age. Thank you for always listening and never judging, something I can only strive to continually do. Most importantly, thank you for trusting me as YOUR friend, for picking up the phone and turning to me when you also needed a friendly ear. If there is one thing I would ask you to do, is love yourself as much as me and the girls love you. Don’t underestimate the importance you hold in our lives. You held my hand, now let me hold yours. Love you always and more… Seju xx
Read the full Brown Girl Magazine Writers’ Father’s Day Tribute here
”On Tinder, when someone no longer wants to talk to you or lose interest, they unmatch you as swiftly as they had chosen you – just like that! We have become accustomed to everything being done for us digitally. And if we don’t like it we can swipe it to the left to the trash can of other human skills that actually build the foundation of a relationship..”
Read all about my Tinder Tales in my latest Brown Girl Magazine feature here.
After four years of contributing to Brown Girl magazine, last year I undertook the role of UK editor. Since then, the team has slowly but steadily grown. On IWD 2018, I’m extremely proud of the breadth of content these ladies have produced in the last few months. Today, I am proud to share their thoughts on what 100 years of The Right To Vote means to them here for Brown Girl Magazine
“..Sheeza Shah is the CEO of UpEffect, a unique crowdfunding platform dedicated to social enterprises who aim to give back to those less fortunate. Its’ brand represents companies who go beyond just making profits — they care about the lives they make an impact on and ensure companies incorporate social responsibility…. “
“.. Aspiring to be a bride is our ultimate achievement, where we swiftly move from our father’s home into our husband’s home, and the namesake follows the same path – neither name nor home is primarily ours. We learn to cook for the masses, because individual portions are not accounted for when inheriting family recipes. When would an occasion ever arise for you to cater for one, unless it’s your pati parmeshwar? …”
Can a woman’s independence truly be embraced? Read the full article here
“…Amongst Vidya Balan’s tyrant of man hating abuse, as a victim of consistent misogyny, a glimmer of remorse of endorsing women as sex on legs for a hefty price would have ensured at least some, be it little, empathy…”
…”Bharti Singh herself has had made it no secret that despite her initial insecurity about her looks, she used this to her advantage…How do we truly embrace ourselves for who we are if women themselves are self-accepting of their weight being used as humour to entertain the masses?
“….Starring Danny Ashok and Asmara Gabrielle, these singletons’ quest to find love in the digital era of Internet dating takes the audience through a rollercoaster of emotions, often humorous yet enlightening, reminding us that true love is not always exempt from societal created boundaries….”
Read my review on Finding Fatimah for the Asian Today here
“…By recognising and celebrating the inspirational women of Kingston-Upon-Thames whose contribution to social, community and economic areas of the borough, Global Arts Kingston echoed its own voice to #BeBoldForChange!…”
Read all about Global Arts Kingston International Women’s Day event in The Asian Today
…”Dadism cleverly narrates the daunting aspect of the pregnancy process through the eyes of a first time father, as he slowly watches his identify change from name to noun and sometimes sheer invisibility, a fear that I’m sure must resonate amongst many new fathers..”
Read my review of Anjali Mya Chadha’s one man show, Dadism, for The Asian Today