Art by Ameana Khan (HLA Scholar 2020-21 and Anaesthetic Registrar)
Why did you come to the UK? I was born in Iran, where I was studying Law at University until the Iranian Revolution in 1978. My family and I are members of the Bahaʼi faith and we had to flee for our lives due to religious persecution. On arrival in the UK, the course of my life and my career changed and I ended up qualifying as a nurse and a midwife. Although nursing and midwifery was not the career I had originally chosen in my life, 41 years on, it has turned out to be my vocation, and I can’t see myself having done anything else.
Challenges as an ethnic minority: Unfortunately I have experienced many challenges in this country as an ethnic minority. It was first evident to me when I arrived 43 years ago and was applying for my nursing. I wrote to 40 hospitals to make applications and only 2 hospitals were willing to interview me. The others all wrote to me saying that due to being from Iran they could not offer me an interview. When I was studying nursing my class mates would laugh at my accent, society is now becoming a lot more aware of these micro aggressions.
Back in the 1980s the patients would ask me where I was from and I would say Iran and you could see them cringing. These challenges have made me stronger and more resilient. My husband is English and my strength has allowed me to bring up our children in two different cultures and with the mentality that they are no different to anyone else no matter what race or religion.
As an ethnic minority you have to prove yourself even more in your working life and for any promotions etc because you know there may be biases.
I always have had to be the best of the best to compete. I have always had to be one step ahead of everyone else.
Challenges as a woman:
Luckily I have not faced any challenges as a woman as I work in an all female environment on the maternity ward.
Challenges as a mother: As a mother I was extremely lucky that I worked part time when I had my children and I started working on nights. This meant that I was at home in the day time to care for my children while my husband was at work. There are not many jobs where I would have been able to do this!
Message: No matter what race, religion, gender, sexuality, we all deserve the same opportunities in life. Embrace and be proud of your differences, it is what makes us unique and beautiful as humans. The Earth is but one country and mankind it’s citizens.
About This Art Series:
Inspired by the poster “We Can Do It” aka “Rosie the Riveter”, who has served as a powerful symbol to many women and has motivated and provided strength to many individuals throughout society. Ameana has created a series of work (which is on going) to celebrate the many strong women within out NHS workforce.
The NHS workforce is made up of a diverse community, however, like many organisation there are also some inequalities that are embedded within the NHS. In order to gain insight into the thoughts of other NHS workers, Ameana has requested her colleagues to be her muses and tell the story of their background and the challenges they have faced as women and as being a part of the ethnic minority. In her series of art pieces, she has used an urban style to-accentuate the powerful role the women play as NHS workers. She has written strong women in English as well as their native language.