Two Warwick undergraduates have been recognised for humanitarian initiatives in the 2021 Diana Awards.
Established in 1999 in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, The Diana Award scheme celebrates young people between 9 and 25 who are going above and beyond in their daily life to create and sustain positive change through social action or humanitarian work.
Sana Mittar, 19, from New Delhi received her Diana Award in recognition of her work supporting vulnerable communities in India during the pandemic.
Sana, who is in the first year of her Economics, Politics and International Studies course at Warwick, is the founder and president of the Global Volunteers Action Network, a youth-led non-profit network which aims to inspire, connect and mobilise volunteers in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Sana coordinated a digital campaign and worked with 150 volunteers to fundraise ₹500,000 for vulnerable communities. Sana has also raised funds for 40 disadvantaged children to buy mobile phones, so they could continue learning from home during coronavirus lockdowns.
Commenting on becoming a Diana Award recipient, Sana said: “This means so much to me, as my efforts have truly been recognised at a world scale. I am very grateful to have been recognised in the memory of Princess Diana, the epitome of selfless community service.”
Kaneeka (pictured right) is a final-year undergraduate student within Warwick Law School. She was inspired to create Pardesi, an on-line platform, by her personal experiences growing up as a member of the South Asian diaspora. She said: "Those of us who live in the South Asian diaspora experience a unique perspective on life, cultures and our personal identities. For many of us, our parents are first generation immigrants and so expect our cultures to mimic the ones they had when growing up; in reality, growing up in a system in the diaspora is a completely different experience, littered with different expectations, cultural celebrations and lifestyle choices.
"We end up getting caught at the intersection of two (often competing) cultures, and for women, it is even harder because at the same time as battling cultural tensions, we are also subjected to outdated global gender roles. Growing up, I noticed that South Asian women are never given the spotlight to talk about our experiences and struggles, and we have been left out of discourse on gender and race. Pardesi was founded to rectify this – providing a space for all South Asian women to be heard, build meaningful connections and feel represented and seen."
Reflecting on her award, Kaneeka said: "Receiving this award is such an honour. Princess Diana was a renowned humanitarian and philanthropist, who strongly believed in the power of young people to change the world. It is such a privilege to be continuing her legacy through my own social action."
Sana and Kaneeka received their awards during a virtual award ceremony held on 28 June 2021, just a few days before what would have been Diana, Princess of Wales’ 60th Birthday. The event showcased the work of young people during the Covid pandemic and included a message from the Duke of Sussex. Addressing all the 2021 winners, the Duke said: “Thank you for inspiring us with your brilliance, your determination and your compassion. Your actions hold the potential to leave a life-changing impact. You are putting the ‘do’s’ behind the ‘say’s’, and this is the personification of our mother’s legacy.”
Tessy Ojo, CEO of The Diana Award, said: “We congratulate all our new Diana Award recipients from the UK and all over the globe who are changemakers for their generation. We know by receiving this honour they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own journey as active citizens. For over twenty years The Diana Award has valued and invested in young people encouraging them to continue to make positive change in their communities and lives of others.”
29 June 2021
Updated on 20 July 2021
ABOUT THE AWARDS
There are 12 Diana Award Judging Panels representing each UK region or nation and a further three panels representing countries outside of the UK. Each panel consist of three judges; one young person, an education or youth work professional, and a business or government representative. Nominations are judged using the Criteria Guide and Scoring Guide which have been created to measure quality of youth social action. Award recipients have been put forward by adults who know the young people in a professional capacity and recognised their efforts as a positive contribution to society. Through a rigorous nomination process, these nominators had to demonstrate the nominee’s impact in five key areas: Vision, Social Impact, Inspiring Others, Youth Leadership, and Service Journey.
Watch the Virtual Award Ceremony: The 2021 Diana Awards - YouTube
Read an interview with Kaneeka Kapur here.
Media Relations Manager, Social Science