Page last updated at 19:52 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Warsi most powerful Muslim woman

Baroness Warsi with her award
Baroness Warsi says her political principles were inspired by her father

Conservative peer Baroness Warsi of Dewsbury has been named Britain's most powerful Muslim woman.

The Power List was chosen by a panel led by Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The award was set up to celebrate high performers in business, the arts, media, voluntary and public sectors.

BBC News presenter Mishal Husain and Farmida Bi, a banking partner for law firm Norton Rose, were also in the top five of the Power List.

Lady Warsi said: "I personally come from a family of all girls, and was brought up to believe that anything was possible, and being a Muslim woman should in no way be seen as a barrier but as an asset to achievement.

"I'm extremely proud to be named as the most powerful British Muslim woman and I'm sure my Pakistani origins, my strong faith and my Yorkshire upbringing have played a huge part."

'Northern mum'

Sayeeda Warsi became the first Muslim woman to sit on the front bench of a British political party in July 2007 at the age of 36.

Straight-talking and combative - she describes herself as a "northern, working-class-roots mum".

She gave up her job as a solicitor in 2004 to stand for Parliament in her home town of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, losing out to Labour's Shahid Malik.

She was also a special adviser on community relations to then Tory leader Michael Howard before receiving a peerage and becoming the party's vice-chairman.

Ms Warsi - who is married with a daughter - says her admiration for Conservative principles was inspired by her father, who went from working in a mill to running a £2m-a-year bed-manufacturing firm.

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