India's Chair, World Peace Wing: How Sahana Ahmed Is Fighting For Afghan Girls

In an interview with SheThePeople, Sahana Ahmed discusses her role as India's chair of World Peace Wing, working towards Afghan women's access to education and importance of responsible tourism.

Bhana Bisht
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Sahana Ahmed
Gurgaon-based poet and author Sahana Ahmed realised she wanted to be a writer when she wrote her first essay years back. She turned professional in 2016 and it won't be wrong to say that her writing is intriguing and thought-provoking. Author of 'Combat Skirts', a coming-of-age story set in Calcutta against the backdrop of the Kargil War, she is also a recognised poet whose work has been published across leading publications around the globe.

Ahmed, who dons several hats, is largely involved in initiatives that work around peacekeeping, a trajectory that led her to hold the position of India's Chair of the World Peace Wing of the G100 club. At a time when young girls and women in Afghanistan are deprived of basic education, leave alone opportunities, Ahmed is closely working towards shifts required around the globe to help change the narrative and give hope to young children there. Holding expertise in Tourism, she founded the Rural Tourism Council for WICCI (Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry) in July 2021 as its first National President.

In this interview with SheThePeople, Sahana Ahmed discusses her role as India's chair of the World Peace Wing, her work towards women's access to education in Afghanistan, the importance of responsible tourism, and what makes her an effective leader.

Sahana Ahmed Interview

When did you decide you wanted to get into writing professionally?

I sent out my first submission on August 15, 2016. It was a travel essay, about an experience in Marseille. Interestingly, the incident was repurposed as a poem later. ‘Fashionable in France’ is included in ‘Amity: peace poems’ too.

What are the next steps you’re working on as India’s Chair for the World Peace Wing of the G100 club?


I am working with the Global Chair, Nobel Peace laureate Ouided Bouchamaoui, for the education rights of Afghan girls. Dr Harbeen Arora Rai, Founder and President of G100, has very kindly connected us with other G100 leaders from Sweden, Luxembourg and Afghanistan to support our wing in this campaign. 

What do you think is the way forward at a time when young girls and women in Afghanistan are deprived of basic education?

We are exploring various options. This is a sensitive topic, to be handled delicately. What gives me hope is that influential institutions like Al-Azhar and the Muslim Council of Elders have opposed the suspension of women’s access to education in Afghanistan.

How can we change the conditioning around gender?

We are the ">changemakers, each one of us, and we have to claim the responsibility for making this happen. Start with our own families. Watch our language, and our biases, and make corrections where needed.

"Our children need to believe that they are equal human beings. We need to reach a stage where any discrimination on the basis of gender feels unnatural to us."


What would you say has had the biggest impact on your growth as a leader?

The unconditional support I have received from Shakil, my husband, is the biggest contributor to my journey, right from the time I founded a training institute at the age of twenty-six. His belief in my abilities is what motivates me. It is also my safety net.

Who or what inspires you the most?

Not any one person, but I am hugely inspired by risk-takers who know how to make things happen. Long before I ever heard of Six Sigma, because my father was in the army, I was surrounded by people who moved mountains, almost literally. My training in Hospitality contributed to this attitude of going above and beyond. 'Nischay Kar Apni Jeet Karon', the motto of the Sikh Regiment, is my personal go-to mantra.

Sahana Ahmed Author, Poet, and India's Chair, World Peace Wing, G100 Club.

With small hill stations bearing the brunt of not just development but also irresponsible tourism, how do you think we can manage to lessen the damage that has already been done and what more should citizens be doing as well to help safeguard their surroundings? 


All stakeholders everywhere need to step in. There has to be accountability at all levels of administration. What is happening in Joshimath is making news, for example, but lack of planning is plaguing even our metros. As far as tourism is concerned, maybe we can learn from Bhutan and introduce measures like a ‘Sustainable Development Fee’.

"What can ordinary citizens do? Respect our heritage, both man-made and natural. It’s not that hard. The key is to be considerate of others."

You don several hats across organisations. What keeps you connected and helps you evolve in multiple roles?

Technology has made it easy to stay connected. Time management is still a challenge but one has to learn how to compartmentalise and prioritise.

"I truly believe in creating opportunities. Like they say: You rise by lifting others."

You started a project called Green Buddies your team connected with schools to teach children everything about responsible tourism. How did you go about it and what inspired you to start this important project?

My daughter Reeham was my inspiration. Right from the time she was a kindergartner, she would intervene if she saw anyone littering. Revisiting a video where she was lecturing fellow travellers on 'Swachh Bharat' gave me the idea of working with schools. It was a two-pronged strategy. One, catching them young. Two, our children showing us the mirror can be more effective than a celebrity mouthing a slogan. And credit where credit’s due, I had Dr Sheeba Hamid and Lakshmi Sharath in the council, who helped me put the text together. 

What would you want to advise budding writers?

Be free. Be unafraid. KISS: Keep it simple, silly. KILL your darlings: Be brutal while editing your work.

Suggested reading: Doi Host’s Disha Kapkoti On Responsible Travel & Tourism Post-Pandemic

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