SHAHRANY HASSAN (b. 1975)
Shahrany never expected to be ‘a connector’ – someone who links and connects people with other people, or with organisations or initiatives. “I start a conversation, and a conversation often leads to identifying an issue that needs to be addressed. Before you know it, we are brainstorming ideas trying to address it. And you realise you can’t solve everything on your own. You need someone else with different expertise. And you start connecting the dots. That’s how it all begins,” she laughs.
Her passion in igniting conversations in the community was inspired by her time working with the State Courts and the Law Society. A major issue she observed was the limited access to information in the community. She decided that one of the ways to ensure better access is to create spaces where information is made more available, not just through pamphlets and written documents, but through dialogue and conversations.
The creation of such spaces that facilitate discourse naturally extended to matters close to her heart that she describes as ‘invisible issues’; issues seldom talked about openly and honestly.
“I hope to see a Singapore that’s not just tolerant, but accepting of differences – of faith, of religion, of sexual orientation, and abilities.” Shahrany’s aspirations for the nation saw her spearhead interfaith initiatives and join the National Integration Working Group, which supports the integration of non-Singaporean residents into the local community. She also regularly volunteers with Casa Raudha, a crisis shelter for women, where she is currently a member of the Management Committee.
As a mother of two teenagers, Shahrany is acutely aware of the challenges parents face in communicating and connecting with their children, especially on difficult topics such as religion. This spurred her to start SeekingAnswers.SG along with other Islamic scholars, a web-based initiative that responds to young people and their relationship to Islam; to contextualise the Islamic faith and practices in the urban context and to dialogue on topics ranging from the wearing of hijab to sexuality and gender issues.
Her latest campaign, ‘End Domestic Violence – Starts With Me’, aims to engage and rally the community to take action against domestic abuse at home, among friends, and in the neighbourhood.
At the end of the day, it is a commitment to be a better person who is also contributing positively to the nation. “I ask myself: why do I do what I do? If not me, then who? If not now, then when? If it needs to be done, it shall be done. This is what I share with my kids all the time.”
To know more about Shahrany’s work, visit www.enddomesticviolence.sg and www.thewhitehatters.sg.