Married Muslim Woman Ruksana Hassan- an ‘Inspiration’ to All at ‘Mrs Mangalore Beauty Pageant’
Mangaluru: She is a Mother; She is a Loving Wife; She is also a Grandmother; She is a Teacher, Trainer, Counselor, Mentor, and Researcher; And in this male-dominated society, She also proved to be a successful social worker, because of her Courage of Conviction, Sincerity of Purpose, by being Human and Humane; She is a Winner of many Awards for Her service to the Community; She is currently a Psychologist at Prestige International School-Mangaluru, and also a Child Psychologist and Mental Health Director in Canada; and She was the ONLY Married Muslim Woman, and the OLDEST among other participants in the just concluded ‘Mrs Mangalore” Beauty Pageant hosted by ‘Mrs.Popular’ at ‘Haute Monde Mrs.India Worldwide 2017’ winner Ms Soujanya Hegde of Mangaluru. Meet Dr Ruksana Hassan, aged 52, one of the 20 finalists, who won the “Mrs Inspiration” Sub Title in the “Mrs Mangalore” Beauty Pageant, which concluded recently- and her participation in this Pageant was an “Inspiration” to all the other contestants, the way Ruksana presented herself and performed very meticulously.
By entering into this Pageant, Ruksana Hassan, an social worker, wanted to challenge the negative stereotypes faced by Muslims and that she wanted to ‘represent diversity and multi-multiculturalism’. She has shaken up the beauty industry as she made history to become the first Muslim contestant in a Beauty Pageant held in the City. She wanted to use the contest as an opportunity to change misconceptions about Islam. Her participation in this Beauty Pageant proves that “We are all born to stand out, nobody is born to blend in. How boring would this world be if everyone was the same?” Walking the ramp, Ruksana did showed her strength of personality — someone with a vision for the future, who is ready to give back to the community and showed that beauty is not just about bodies,”
Ruksana was fast-tracked through to the final where she competed against 20 other women, but couldn’t make it to the last top seven, but for her talents and challenge, she was given the Sub-Title “Mrs Inspiration”- because she was indeed an inspiration for rest of the contestants and the society. You know when you’re nervous anyway, and then you become even more nervous because you don’t see anyone else who looks like you?- But the judges were impressed with Ruksana’s performance in the First audition round and she made it through to the top 20 before finally being selected as “Mrs Inspiration”.
Ruksana says having an important message is more important than your looks- “You need to be, confident, well-spoken and be motivated to spread a good message. I had few people coming up to me telling me how much they loved what I was representing and promoting. That really, really felt good. You shouldn’t let your skin colour and your race hold you back. I went in representing myself and staying true to myself. I didn’t do anything outside my normal life. Playing the role of a wife, mom and grand mom in major. Handling the toughest profession with the teenagers as a psychologist is a challenge at the age of 52 yrs, and also belonging to the minority community along with the official challenges. That’s my life sharing it with my happy family. Never gave up anything to achieve any kind of greed”.
Ruksana’s participation in this pageant is indeed an inspiration for women from minority groups to enter beauty pageants. One young Muslim lady speaking to Team Mangalorean said: “As a Muslim woman I would never, never consider doing this but now seeing Ruksana’s boldness and strength I definitely will pursue it. Ruksana has now inspired many who probably thought they couldn’t. I thank Ruksana for standing up for what you believe.” Yes, it takes bravery, emotional resilience and most importantly surrounding yourself with strong minded people who are prepared to make great sacrifices to welcome permanent and positive change. And for that matter, Ruksana had all the support and encouragement from everyone for her strong commitment and enthusiasm shown by her in the Pageant.
Ruksana Hassan did her Diploma in Electronics Engineering at ITI, Bombay in the year 1984-86; PGDHE at St John’s Medical College, Bangalore in 2009-10; MA in Sociology at Karnataka State Open University in 2006; PGDHR at Indian Institute of Human Rights, New Delhi in 2012; and recently completed her PhD in Humanity and Social Work. She has a quite a few awards too her credit, to name a few- Awarded for Best Women Actives by Karnataka Parashid Congress Committee 19th Nov 2011, Indira Priyadarshini Award; Awarded by Art Mantram, Bangalore for ‘Go Green Bangalore’ on the 26/01/2008 held at LalBagh Bangalore; Recognition by the Director General of Education & Training, Minister of Labour, New Delhi, for introducing the First of its kind Mobile training for poor needy and minority women from Isolated Villages, held at Palace Grounds, Bangalore on 15/02/2010; and Women’s Achiever Award presented by N.A. Harris Foundation on International Women’s Day 08/03/2011
Ruksana has conducted various training, seminars, Counselling and conferences for students in Schools and Colleges; and Workshops on Women Empowerment. Presently working as a Psychologist in Prestige International School & college, Mangaluru, she worked as the Psychologist in safe & serene Foundation, Bangalore; Project Director for the Destitute Women, Karnataka state Wakf Foundation; As a Family Counselor for the families of drug addicts and Alcoholic 2004 to till date; Worked as Program coordinator for Skill Training center (Recognized under the Ministry of Labour) from June 2009 to 2013; Worked as a Trainer for the Home Guards, Civil Defence & Fire & Emergency Service from 2006 to 2007; Worked with Central Prison, Bangalore From 2007 to 2009; Worked as a trainer Counselor at IGP office Mangalore 1996 to 1997; Worked as In charge for Self Help Group At Rudset Ujre; and Worked as Visiting Counselor at “Little Sister of poor” old age home, Mangalore, From 1992 to 1994
Speaking about her professional achievement, Ruksana said, “As a founder-director of New Dawn Group of Institutions from the year 1999 till date, where I am undertaking family counselling, de-addiction and rehabilitation of drugs and alcohol addicts, providing skill training (computers, tailoring and candle-making) for women of weaker section of society, running a women destitute home (especially for female disowned by families), undertaking child counselling, creating awareness among youth about de-merits of various kinds of addiction, need to inculcate moral Values & ethics, proud to claim that I am the first and the only Muslim lady to undertake rehabilitation of drug addicts, alcoholics and reformation of notorious criminals”.
“It is First of its kind in the history in the department of minority welfare where destitute home for (SEXUAL ABUSED WOMEN) of minority women is being run and rehabilitated by providing them skill training in various sectors such as candle making, tailoring and computers; successful in providing them placement thereby making them economically self reliant. I was Instrumental in establishment of many innovative programs which had been very sensitive to the problems of Women and Child; and organized learning skill and training center for the Juvenile Home of setting up a “learn while you play” at Observation Boys Home, Madivla, Bangalore; Strengthened the Department of Women & Child Development by Introducing “Training of Tailoring skills” at Reception Center for Girls “added Ruksana..
Talking about her Biggest Achievement, She said, “A notorious criminal from Shivajinagar, Bangalore with 29 cases of heinous crimes who had completed sentence of three years and nine months in central jail was rehabilitated, taught life skills, trained in human management and administration (he has no basic qualification) who, today, is successfully and effectively managing as many as 60 drug addicts and alcoholics at our rehabilitation centre. This proves “no human being is born or brought up bad.”
Speaking further She said, “What I am proud of myself is that in this male-dominated society, I have been able to prove a successful social worker in the real-and-true sense of world without any kind of blemish or taint only due to my impeccable conduct and sterling character; could handle about 1700 tough cases out of which 1200 cases are successful. This is because of my courage of conviction, sincerity of purpose, by being human and humane. Also by Teaching, Training, Seminars, conferences, paper presentation, Awareness among youth, counselling MES training and Research; Workshops and street camps on Awareness of HIVs and Aids with help from Local Police and Residents; Jointly organised Awareness Camps about ill-effects of Alcohol & Drugs through out Karnataka for the Home Guards, Fire Service and Civil Service Personnel with the help of the Director General of Police, Smt. Jija Hari Singh”.
Ruksana is the Founder Director of New Dawn Rehabilitation Trust (R), Bangalore- this organization is working across the state of Karnataka and India as State voluntary organization for the welfare of society, weaker section of the women, Empowerment of the youth. She also works for the renewal and rehabilitation of youth who have been abused by drugs, chemical substance and Alcohol, who’s life has gone hay wire in the mist of Addiction which is rampant in society. Having hundreds of volunteers with 8 centers for the welfare of the weaker section of the society (Men, women and Child), she also works with the prisoners of central Jail, Bangalore and other sub jails of Karnataka.
Ruksana says, “As in charge of Women Empowerment, I have always been very sensitive to the problems of women and children. Working with the department of Women and Child Welfare, Hand in Hand at the Juvenile Home, Reception center, Rehabilitation of CSWs, Prison Ministry India and Old Age Homes; have organized many short terms camps and education seminars and workshops in related subjects. As CMD of the NDRT organization, I am involved in various activities like medical camps, creating awareness about women empowerment, eco- friendly environment programme, scholarship, pension cards and distribution of cloth among the weaker section of the society, providing medical help to the old-age women, providing school fees and sport appreciation for qualified students; have donated tailoring machines to SHGs and to the women of the weaker section of society”
“As Director of New Dawn Skill Training Center, recognized by the Union Ministry of Labour & Employment & Training of the Government of India, I have set up skill centers at Kolar, KGF, Chintamani, Channapatna, Bangalore Urban and Bangalore Rural districts; have also worked with various school and college for the Empowerment of Youth under the leadership of Smt. Jija Hari Singh, IPS, DGP, Bangalore. First of its Kind Mobile Computer & Tailoring Training Unit implemented by New Dawn Skill Training Centre sponsored by Regional Director of Apex Training Institute Union Ministry of Labour & Employment. New Dawn Skill Training Centre was chosen by the Regional Directorate of the Union Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India, to take up the pilot project of imparting skill training to women of minority community in rural areas. Due to social reasons, minority women in rural areas generally do not go to institutes in cities and towns to learn modern education such as computers and tailoring. Hence, it was necessary to take such schools to the door-steps of these women in rural areas”added Ruksana.
She further said, “Two custom-built library vans – equipped with general knowledge books, fitted with computers and tailoring machines – went to some of the villages of KGF, Kolar and Chintamani where the resource persons from New Dawn Skill Training Centre, persuaded the women to undergo basic skill training in computers and tailoring in these mobile vans. The pilot project was inaugurated by the Director General of Employment & Training, GOI Sri Sharada Prasad at Palace Grounds, Bangalore on 13th Feb 2010. With the coordination of the gram panchayats and local libraries, these mobile library vans visited various villages and enabled hundreds of minority women to get a feel of modern education and skill training through computers and tailoring.
“A firm believer in the age-old and time-tested principle that India’s survival, progress and development as a modern nation – in order to play its pre-destined role of a World Leader among the comity of nations – largely depends on how strong the women in the society are – mentally, physical, morally, educationally and in terms of character – New Dawn Skill Training and Rehabilitation Centre decided to start a “Home Away from Home” for unfortunate destitute women. With the partial support of the Department of Minority Welfare, Government of Karnataka, about 30 women belonging to the minority community, who were in the state-run Reception Centre, were adopted by NDRT”
“The objective was to give them not just food, shelter and clothing, but also impart them skill training in order to make them develop self confidence, realize their self-respect as well as enable them to earn so that they could move around in the society with pride, confidence and dignity. In a nut-shell, New Dawn Skill Training and Rehabilitation Centre has helped these women to move towards a New Dawn….. in their life, which otherwise, would have been gloomy and uncertain. These women have undergone various kinds of skill training in computers, tailoring, knitting, Cotton waste-making from unused clothes and in making candles. Different kinds of candles for various occasions such as birthdays, wedding anniversaries, get-togethers, etc, etc are made by the nimble-hands of these skilled women. These are much sought-after by many families, clubs and associations. The designer candles made by these women are being sold to five-star hotels and many leading companies. Major portion of the profits so earned are deposited in their respective accounts” said Ruksana.
Ruksana is married to an agriculturist having three children- daughter 27 years old is married; eldest son 24 years is a graduate working in Malaysia; second son studying in 12th std at Presidency College, Mangaluru; and has a grand daughter of 5 years old. Following are the excerpts from the exclusive interview with Dr Ruksana Hassan:
Q: What drew you to enter in this pageant in the first place?
I just wanted to try my luck
Q: What was your family reaction when you told them that you are Entering the Beauty Pageant?
“OMG are you crazy”-You will be on social media. You will surely not walk on the ramp in front of so many people. You can’t have an face book account, in spite of me being the highest qualified in my family. I am the only lady who drives the car, Travel alone and working in public. It’s a big journey
Q: I assume this was your First Beauty pageant Experience— how did You prepare for it?
I had absolutely no idea about this industry. It was all trained after I was selected in the audition round. Soujanya was my guide and advisor for this and also Suma Aunty (Soujanya’s mother)
Q: Was your hijab or wearing a Burqa a topic of much discussion, or an education point, while entering the pageant?
Off course no, related to my hijab even when I wore to the session, no one had any problem with it. It was always how education point what everyone focused.
Q: Now that you have been judged as “Mrs Inspiration”- what have you to say about it?
I appreciate the decision from all the judges. Now I shoulder the responsibility of being an “MRS INSPIRATION” to my society over all.
Q: How was you experience taking part in this pageant, and what do you have to say about the pageant?
Just amazing, being a Psychologist by profession I was exposed to a new world of my life, Learnt a lot in this journey of Mrs Mangalore 2018
Q In your eyes, what makes a good Mrs Mangalore?
Being human towards other fellow human beings. Give back whatever we have learnt from the society, back to the society.
Q: In what sense has the organizer of this Beauty Pageant Ms Soujnaya Hegde inspired you?
If at all Soujanya had to participate in the pageant she would have been the super duper Inspiration Queen. It was only Her who made me walk the ramp, if not for her I would have never gather the courage to have stepped out into this world of Fashion.
Q: How were you different from other contestants in the pageant?
Only my age and experience made me more confident. All the 20 finalist had motivated me equally. Specially Privathi, Jyothi, the youngest one Ashwini my dance guru all made me feel young
Q: What do you think you’d be doing now if you hadn’t won the “Mrs Mangalore” Crown?
Just by hitting the ramp walk in the mid of so many audience I won the crown for sure I never participated for winning, more over all the finalist are the winners
Q: Do you think that wearing Burqa/ Hijab should be made strict/compulsory for Muslim women or Muslim women should have the freedom what to wear in public?
We still have the freedom. Many of us don’t wear, More over its the personal decision of the family. When I go for such functions I still wear it, Its how we take it.
Q: Do you think that other Muslim women should also take the courage in taking part in Beauty pageants? What is your message to them?
We should know our limits, our family values and know how to represent ourselves with our own limits, Off course next year in Shaa Allah many will be come into this pageant to just tell the world who they are in the society.
Q: Finally, what is your message in general to the readers of Mangalorean.com?
We have this life just for one time, live your to the satisfaction of your happiness as far as you don’t trouble your loved ones, love yourself first only then others will love you. I stand here as an example- do good and the goodness will come bask to you. Irrespective of what others tell, whatever you give others will come back to you in the same volume.
Team Mangalorean wishes Dr Ruksana Hassan all success in her endeavours and her Humanitarian and Social Work towards the Society.
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