Ishtar Lakhani has made it to the BBC 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2020. The list highlights those who are leading change and making a difference during these turbulent times. Singer and songwriter Bulelwa Mkutukana, well known as Zahara also made it to the list. The award-winning singer has been selected for using her platform to speak out on violence against women in South Africa.
Others on the list included Sanna Marin, who leads Finland’s all-female coalition government; Michelle Yeoh, star of the new Avatar and Marvel films; Sarah Gilbert, who heads the Oxford University research into a coronavirus vaccine; and climate activist and actress Jane Fonda.
Lakhani is a Human rights defender who has collaborated with social justice organisations, movements and networks around the world, providing the support needed to strengthen their approaches to human rights advocacy.
She played a key role in the Free the Vaccine campaign, driven by the Centre for Artistic Activism and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. The activist is also working with others towards the goal of making sure that a Covid-19 vaccine will be sustainably priced, available to all and free at the point of delivery.
“It was important to me for the BBC to acknowledge that the work I do in supporting and collaborating with other organisations. They are the leaders in the work and I am the support. These lists are recognition and acknowledgement but it also highlights individual people, but there are so many incredible people doing good work,” said Lakhani.
With a Masters degree in anthropology from Wits University, Lakhani has been involved in co-ordinating a radical, feminist advocacy network for survivors of sexual violence (the 1 in 9 Campaign) to revolutionary sandwich making in her founding of Love and Revolution, an activist bookstore, sandwich shop and community space.
In the previous years, Lakhani served as advocacy manager for the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce, an organisation that fights for the human rights of sex workers and advocates for the full decriminalisation of sex work.