The Zoroastrian women that feature on the ZASHA website represent the strength, intelligence, and generosity of spirit that the global Zoroastrian community is known for. Many have been forgotten and some even overlooked but they are all women who have left and are leaving their incredible mark in important ways. They present different time periods, geographical locations, and spheres of action. What they have in common is that, in their different ways, they challenged or overcame the restricting gender norms of the societies in which they lived. By refusing to be bound by the social, legal, political, or domestic conventions of their time, they helped shape the modern world.
The ZASHA website is to celebrate the various and magnificent achievements of Zoroastrian women and their community. It is to connect and enable them to interact and work in a bond of fellowship with others in their special fields, across disciplines. Hopefully, it will also be an inspiration to a new generation who are unaware of the extraordinary line of dynamic women they are descended from and the obstacles they faced to create a better life for themselves, and their families. We salute them for their bravery, and pluckiness.
Over my lifetime, historians especially in the women’s movement have been asking pointed questions about women and their important role often forgotten and sometimes deliberately ignored and erased. The result has been a rich and new way to view our collective story. In uncovering these short stories of fascinating Zoroastrian women, alive and deceased I have been left in awe of their achievements. I am sure that those who are inspired by this website will explore their female ancestors that have been the foundation of an ancient and glorious religion.
This ZASHA website is my gift for the 12th World Zoroastrian Congress 2022, in New York, to complement the session on Women and Leadership. I was honoured to be a keynote speaker and chair of this important event. I believe it is a tipping point in redefining the role of Zoroastrian women in our fast-moving world. It is also an appropriate way to recognise the extraordinary achievements of Zoroastrian women. The ZASHA website will in time be a place for lodging and locating archival material for the worldwide Zoroastrian community and for easy access to events, news, and views.
I have boldly named the website ZASHA, which incorporates Z for Zoroastrian and ASHA which is the name of the centre I helped found in Gloucestershire, England for the enrichment of people’s lives especially the young.
For Zoroastrians the word asha is the basis of what we believe brings truth, order, righteousness, and justice to our world. ZASHA in Russian means ‘ The Defender of the People’ and in South Africa ‘The Spirit of Fire’ which is revered by us Zoroastrians. ZASHA also neatly spells ‘Zoroastrian Alliance of Sisters here and abroad.’ I just love the sound of ZASHA which is both feminine and fun.
I know that everyone has an important part in making sure that such an extraordinary faith and culture that has changed the course of world history directly and indirectly over millennia flourishes. Most importantly there is a duty to leave a fine legacy to future generations. I hope the ZASHA website will play a vital part in the Zoroastrian community’s role to continue to bring happiness and enlightenment to others. I am in no doubt that future generations will thank us for keeping the Zoroastrian goodness and magic alive throughout our shared world.
Many thanks to all those that have made this site happen.
My admiration and affection to you all.