Meena Upadhyaya is a Professor of Medical Genetics at Cardiff University and has held a number of roles in public
life including Trustee for Women Equality Network for Wales (Wen WALES), Mentor for students for University entrance and Governor for Hindu Cultural Association (HCA). She has a PhD from Cardiff University and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists in Molecular Genetics. In 2010, Prof Upadhyaya won the Inspire Wales Award for Science & Technology and has received a Recognition Award from the Welsh Government in 2011 for her many contributions to Medical Genetics.
Meena is also the founder and chairman of the Wales Asian Women Achievement Awards (WAWAA) which aim to empower Asian women throughout Wales and to better promote and applaud their input and support of all aspects of Welsh life. WAWAA provides a scheme that recognises both those Welsh Asian women who have made significant contributions, as well as those making effective use of their talents to help inspire others around them, especially from other ethnic minorities, who provide inspiring role models for the communities.
Meena believes "women are markedly under-represented in many spheres of life, including science, politics and both the public and private sector. It was on this basis that I founded WAWAA scheme, which profiles the achievement of women who are multiply disadvantaged - not only are they women, but they are also women from ethnic minorities who often face the multiple barriers of language, culture, appearance and religion."
In terms of barriers she has faced, Meena explains that "at times I have experienced injustice in my working environment, while this initially led to much frustration and anger, it subsequently aroused in me the resolve to do even better."
Meena's message to other women who would like to apply for public appointments is "we all have the potential to succeed, however, it is very much up to each individual to fully apply themselves to any tasks with focused determination, to persevere, even when failures occur, and to apply good time management, but, perhaps most importantly, to fully support and encourage one another and to forgive those who are unpleasant and non-supportive."