T.O.'s most inspiring women of 2017: Aisha Ahmad

A look at 12 incredible Toronto women who inspired us, provoked us, educated us and otherwise made us proud in 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, we are honouring Toronto's most inspirational women of the year. Take a look at our 12-part series highlighting the changemakers who are pushing for women's rights, exposing the inequalities in our city, achieving excellence in what they do and giving back through advocacy, activism, philanthropy and more. 

The professor: Aisha Ahmad

When it comes to inspiration, Aisha Ahmad packs a punch. I have followed her career for over a decade, and she never ceases to amaze me. She is a rising star professor at the University of Toronto, an expert in her field and an avid boxer with elite training, who is also a force of nature who has a transformational impact on those who cross her path. 

As an expert in international security, Ahmad leads a global research team that is mapping the financial drivers of conflict in wartorn countries, from the deserts of northern Mali to the ravaged cities of Iraq. Her new book, Jihad & Co.: Black Markets and Islamist Power, based on her extensive fieldwork in some of the toughest war zones on the planet, is creating buzz around the world and opening up new avenues for peace. 

As the director of the Islam and Global Affairs Initiative at the Munk School, Ahmad regularly brings diverse teams of experts together to address critical social and political issues, such as Islamophobia, terrorism and security policies and sexual diversity in Muslim communities. As an intersectional feminist woman of colour, Ahmad’s leadership at the University of Toronto smashes stereotypes. Her voice is an essential response to both Islamophobic and patriarchal narratives that silence and exclude Muslim women. 

As a mentor, Ahmad motivates her students to push boundaries, challenge conventional wisdom, seek facts and develop informed opinions. Her passion for her work is infectious and it drives her students. As an intellectual leader, Ahmad channels her fighting spirit into educating, enlightening and inspiring others in the classroom, the community and the world.

Next on the list: Lido Pimienta by Kinnie Starr

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO