Kashmiri-American writer among nominees for Oklahoma’s Woman of the Year

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Dr Nyla Khan, professor of English at Oklahoma’s Rose State College and a well-known author, was among the women feted at an Oct 10 dinner to honor ‘50 Making a Difference’, The City Sentinel reported.

The annual event, sponsored by The Journal Record, a business newspaper, drew hundreds to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage museum in Oklahoma City to honor the Woman of the Year nominees.

In a statement, Dr Khan said she was “humbled to be one of the 2019 honorees of The Journal Record Woman of the Year.”

After the event, she said, “I was grateful for and appreciative of my loved ones. I knew I was more sure of myself and undaunted by life’s small annoyances. Every day I learn to leverage challenges to transform myself in powerful and positive ways.”

The Kashmiri-American Nyla Khan was the only South Asian Muslim woman in the group this year. A well-known academic scholar, she is the author of important books like The Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society and Polity; The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism; Islam, Women and Violence in Kashmir Between India and Pakistan; and A Labor of Love.

Her work has got renewed attention after India annulled the special status of her home state of Jammu & Kashmir, going back on a seven-decade-old promise to give it a measure of autonomy.

Last month, Dr Khan got another notable recognition in the form of a Top 10 listing of contemporary women from Kashmir. The publication, Women’s Web, is based in India and describes itself as “for women who do”.

In her statement, Dr Nyla Khan continued, “I cherish my culture and values of the past while being aware of the exigencies of the present. I recognize that my personal emancipation is mediated by my responsibility toward my Oklahoma and Kashmiri communities. My state of adoption, Oklahoma, has given me an amazing platform and an ability to make constructive change at the grassroots level.”

Dr Khan is also a member of the Harvard-based Scholars Strategy Network and is known for her work as a human rights and women’s rights activist, besides her academic and political work in Kashmir.

In March, she was appointed commissioner of the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women by Oklahoma Senator Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, who serves as president pro tempore of the state senate.

She was also awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award and Silver Medal for her bridge-building work at the community and grassroots-level in Oklahoma.

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