Who runs the world? Girls! Pakistani-British Councillor Sophia Choudhary has become the youngest female Muslim Mayor in the UK succeeding her predecessor Jacqui Vosper recently.
We spoke to her about her feelings and future plans about her newly acquired role as the youngest ever Mayor of Rushmoor from a Pakistani descent.
How does it feel to be the youngest first Muslim female mayor of Hampshire?
Firstly, for me, faith should not matter: diversity is essential. We live in a fair society – I am proud to have been born and bred in Aldershot, in Hampshire, and at the same time I care about my heritage and live my life – with my friends, neighbours and family – in accordance with the values I know and have learned. None of this is in conflict – it is an example of tolerance and respect.
Secondly, I care for and want to serve all my residents and will continue to strive for mutual respect and prosperity for all. Having said that, it is still an honour to be the youngest British Asian Mayor in Hampshire.
What are the key changes you hope to bring about for Muslims residing in Rushmoor?
Being the Mayor, you are Mayor for all people, all races and all religions. The Borough of Rushmoor is special, with Farnborough recognized internationally as the birthplace of British aviation, and Aldershot as the true Home of the British Army. We have long been proud of our links and partnerships across the Borough and none could be stronger than our relationship with the Aldershot Garrison and the men and women dedicated to serving our Country. We are a multi-faith, multi-nationality Borough and when speaking of key changes we should speak of changes that will benefit everyone. I intend to make working together a theme throughout my Mayoral year and will constantly look for opportunities to play a part in further strengthening partnerships, tolerance and understanding throughout our community, including young people and people of different faiths.
What are your sentiments on carrying on your father’s legacy?
The entire expanse of my father’s career should be applauded. He has been a member of the Conservative Party since the 70’s. He is a Rushmoor Borough Councilor, having first been elected in 1987, and is now in his second term as a Hampshire County Councilor. He was the first Asian Mayor from 2001-2002. My mother has always stood by him, supporting him throughout. My father has, and continues, to do what is right for the community, for the residents of Rushmoor and for Hampshire. He has taught me about integrity and goodwill, and I am proud to be his daughter and to continue in his political legacy.
As your sister has also been appointed, what are your family’s sentiments on the newly acquired roles?
My sisters and I have learned our values from two loving parents. This is where I learned that what matters, is not your name, not your status, but what you get done. It’s where I learned that you achieve far more when you work with others and that you have to be prepared to take on challenges that make a real difference to people’s lives. Above all, I have learned something fundamental from my father… people matter, public services matter. It a joyous occasion for all of our family to see young women in politics striving to do what is best for the community. I look forward to working with Attika as my Mayoress. The hard work begins now.
We wish you the best in all that you do Sophia!