THE PRO­FES­SOR

Annex Post - - T.O.'S MOST INSPIRING WOMEN OF 2017 - BY EMILY AGARD DI­REC­TOR OF SCIXCHANGE AT RY­ER­SON UNIVER­SITY

When it comes to in­spi­ra­tion, Aisha Ah­mad packs a punch. I have fol­lowed her ca­reer for over a decade, and she never ceases to amaze me. She is a ris­ing star pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Toronto, an ex­pert in her field and an avid boxer with elite train­ing, who is also a force of na­ture who has a trans­for­ma­tional im­pact on those who cross her path.

As an ex­pert in in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity, Ah­mad leads a global re­search team that is map­ping the fi­nan­cial driv­ers of con­flict in wartorn coun­tries, from the deserts of north­ern Mali to the rav­aged cities of Iraq. Her new book, Ji­had & Co.: Black Mar­kets and Is­lamist Power,

based on her ex­ten­sive field­work in some of the tough­est war zones on the planet, is cre­at­ing buzz around the world and open­ing up new av­enues for peace.

As the di­rec­tor of the Is­lam and Global Af­fairs Ini­tia­tive at the Munk School, Ah­mad reg­u­larly brings di­verse teams of ex­perts to­gether to ad­dress crit­i­cal so­cial and po­lit­i­cal is­sues, such as Is­lam­o­pho­bia, ter­ror­ism and se­cu­rity poli­cies and sex­ual di­ver­sity in Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties. As an in­ter­sec­tional fem­i­nist woman of colour, Ah­mad’s lead­er­ship at the Univer­sity of Toronto smashes stereo­types. Her voice is an es­sen­tial re­sponse to both Is­lam­o­pho­bic and pa­tri­ar­chal nar­ra­tives that si­lence and ex­clude Mus­lim women.

As a men­tor, Ah­mad mo­ti­vates her stu­dents to push boundaries, chal­lenge con­ven­tional wis­dom, seek facts and de­velop in­formed opin­ions. Her pas­sion for her work is in­fec­tious and it drives her stu­dents. As an in­tel­lec­tual leader, Ah­mad chan­nels her fight­ing spirit into ed­u­cat­ing, en­light­en­ing and in­spir­ing oth­ers in the class­room, the com­mu­nity and the world.

Ah­mad grew up on St. Clair Av­enue West

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