Founder & Executive Director of Henna Foundation
Hijri Unknown-Present (AH); Common Era Unknown-Present (CE)
Shahien Taj is the Founder & Executive Director of Henna Foundation, formally known as Saheli, a specialist user-led agency and registered charity established to advance the needs, concerns and aspirations of Asian and Muslim children and families. Committed to equality, human rights principles and encouraging the nurture and social advancement of positive family environments, Taj has acquired a practice based specialist understanding in tackling the issues of ‘honour’ related abuses and Forced Marriages and developed reciprocal engagement and dialogue amongst affected grassroots community groups. She has established positive working relations with a cross-section of services including the Foreign & Commonwealth office, Forced Marriage unit, Police Constabularies, Crown Prosecution Service along with numerous other statutory and voluntary agencies and services. Funded by the Equality & Human Rights Commission, Taj developed the ‘honour’ based violence & Forced Marriage Knowledge Centre and Directory. This one stop portal of information is an online facility that provides real time information to both victims and cross-sector service providers. Taj previously contributed to the nationwide schools training program, “Watch Over Me lll” (Forced Marriage) soap opera, assisting in the development of ACPO’s (Association of Chief Police Officers) HBV & Forced Marriage training DVD for Police Officers (Her Choice...Your duty to protect) and also in partnership with South Wales Police and BMER NGOs was a key contributor in the development and implementation of a Forced Marriage and HBV Risk assessment & Protection Plan. Experienced in networking and developing effective communicative partnerships, on a number of initiatives, Taj liaises with the Welsh Assembly Government, Department for Communities & Local Govt, Home Office, Ministry of Justice, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Her engagement with the private, public and voluntary sectors has attracted many accolades. She is an appointed Commissioner to the British Muslims and Islamophobia Commission, member of the National Muslim Women's Advisory group, assembled by the former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Rt. Honourable Hazel Blears and also involved in the House of Commons, Cross Parliamentary Group – Friends of Islam. In 2005 she was invited to join the Home office, Preventing Extremism Together: Working Groups and co-authored the report on engaging with Muslim women "Working together to prevent extremism". The same year, commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government, Taj led the Muslim Women Talk Campaign: Wales. Having engaged the opinions of over 600 contributors, she prepared the Muslim Women Talk Campaign: Wales report, launched in 2007. Taj's accolades include lifetime membership of the Millennium Awards Fellowship,recipient of the Nationwide Building Society Award for Voluntary Endeavour 2002 and awarded an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours list 2008. In 2009, on behalf of Henna Foundation, Taj received a letter of commendation from the Association of Chief Police Officers for the outstanding contribution made towards furthering the UK’s response to forced marriage and ‘honour’ based violence. Most recently Taj was honoured by First Minister, Carwyn Jones and presented with the “Recognising Achievement” Award.