Rt Hon Baroness (Sayeeda) Warsi PC

Rt Hon Baroness (Sayeeda) Warsi PC

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Former Co-Chairwomen of the Conservative Party 

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Synopsis

A lawyer, businesswoman, campaigner, and cabinet minister, Sayeeda Warsi has had many roles, but she is best known for being the first Muslim to serve in a British cabinet.

Biography

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi is a lawyer, author, businesswoman, and member of the House of Lords. She was Britain's first Muslim Cabinet Minister; Chairman of the Conservative party 2010-12, and a Minister at the Foreign Office 2010-14.

The daughter of an immigrant mill worker, Sayeeda rose to become an Advisor to the Leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard, and the youngest peer in the House of Lords, aged thirty-six.

A campaigner on equalities and religious freedom, she travelled to Sudan and famously helped to secure the release of the British teacher Gillian Gibbons who was on trial for blasphemy.

A fierce political campaigner, Sayeeda drove the campaign against adopting the Alternative Vote system ahead of the referendum, winning what she called ‘the mother of all elections’ by a ratio of two to one. She also spearheaded the party’s Social Action agenda both domestically and internationally, setting up Project Maja, which has brought politicians and volunteers together to deliver projects in the poorest parts of Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bangladesh, and Turkey

The iconic images of her on the steps of No 10 Downing Street in a shalwar kameez (a traditional ethnic outfit), were beamed around the world as she was appointed as Chairman of the Conservative Party – the first Asian to chair a major British political party. She was then made Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Minister for Faith and Communities.

Sayeeda is the author of The Enemy Within, a provocative and brutally honest account of the relationship between Islam and Britain.

She has been a major driver of three start-up businesses; one in the service sector and two in manufacturing, all of which have developed into vibrant and successful SMEs. In Government she led the campaign to ensure that Britain became the first western country to issue a Sukuk (Islamic bond. She also Chaired the Global Islamic Finance & Investment Group.

Sayeeda is a Trustee of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and Chair of the Baroness Warsi Foundation. The Foundation focuses on social mobility, gender equality and freedom of religious belief.  She is also a Trustee of the Savayra Foundation, a UK registered charity which works in Pakistan to empower widows, divorcees and orphan girls through skills, education, and other poverty relief programmes.

She took part in Channel 4’s Stand Up to Cancer special show Stand & Deliver. The show saw comedians tasked with mentoring a famous face, helping them to write an original five-minute routine which they performed in front of a live audience. Sayeeda’s mentor was Nick Helm, and she went on to win the show. Sayeeda also appears with Alastair Campbell, to put twelve ambitious Brits through their political paces on the show Make Me A Prime Minister.

A keen cook, addict of home improvement programmes, and a cricket fan, Sayeeda has consistently been voted one of the five hundred most influential Muslims in the world.

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