2019 AWA Science Award winner Manisha Nair

For 20 years, the Asian Women of Achievement Awards have celebrated the immense accomplishments of Asian women working in the UK. At this year’s star-studded event, held at the London Hilton, Park Lane, 14 women were selected as category winners by a judging panel chaired by Sir Nicholas Young, Former CEO, British Red Cross. Let us focus on one of the 2019 award winners: Winner of the Science Award, Manisha Nair.

Breaking new ground in maternal and child health

India has the highest number of pregnancy related deaths globally, with a maternal mortality rate that is 20 times higher than in the UK. More than 45,000 pregnant women die each year in India compared to about 70 in the UK. It is these shocking statistics that drive the work of our 2019 Science Award Winner: Manisha Nair.

Manisha has more than 15 years of experience as a clinician, public health specialist, lecturer and population health researcher. In 2013, she joined the University of Oxford’s National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit as an epidemiologist working on the UK maternal morbidity programme. In 2015, she became a Senior Epidemiologist and MRC Fellow at the University of Oxford; and in 2017 she was awarded a Medical Research Council Career Development Fellowship of more than £1 million to establish collaborative research infrastructure for the UK–India. Within a year, Manisha had built a collaboration between the University of Oxford and 15 public and private hospitals in India to set up the Maternal and Perinatal Health Research Collaboration, India (MaatHRI).

Under her leadership, MaatHRI now undertakes research to improve clinical care and outcomes for pregnant women and babies in India, and to reduce maternal deaths by translating research advancements in the UK and elsewhere. Driven always by the existing inequalities in maternal and child health, Manisha’s vision is to make a positive contribution to the lives of vulnerable women and children through medical research, and she is currently expanding her work to cover more African and Asian countries, so that the health and wellbeing of women and children can be improved on a global scale.

A true example of the power of collaboration

Manisha is an inspirational mentor to many young scientists who share her passion. She is training and developing upcoming researchers to work in this field, with plans for developing sustainable multinational collaborations to improve the health of pregnant women and children.

Manisha is an ardent advocate of equitable partnerships in research, capacity building, and bi-directional learning, which are essential for the advancement of scientific knowledge and the continued exchange of ideas globally. Her work illustrates just how powerful globally relevant research can be and how cross-country collaboration can improve the lives of thousands of people.

Humbly accepting her Award (without an acceptance speech prepared as she simply thought winning was not a possibility), Manisha commented: ‘Coming from India, I’ve seen a lot of inequality growing up, and I’ve faced a lot of things that women shouldn’t face, but I am really happy that I am here. And if I can be here, actually anybody can be.’

Watch the highlights of the 2019 Asian Women of Achievement Awards

The Asian Women of Achievement Awards

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Asian Women of Achievement Awards. These awards celebrate multicultural Britain and the contribution of diverse cultures and talents to UK society. For two decades, these awards have played a key role in redefining the contribution of Asian women and informing a new, positive, pro-diversity debate.

Nominations for the 2020 awards will open in November.

Find out more about the Asian Women of Achievement Awards here.