Our People

Shaheen has a very secular team composition with representations from the Hindu Dalit community, Hindu SC and ST community, Hindu general category, Muslim community and even Dalit Muslim community.

As the above diagram represents, we follow a circular organogram model instead of a linear hierarchical model. This is because the organisation believes in bestowing leadership roles to these social leaders with multiple roles and responsibilities, who would become capable enough to carry the baton forward, with the support of the other members. The CEO, also the Founder-Director comprises of the core, immediately followed by this second-in-line management team of social leaders who are considered as the steerers of the organisation. This core team is connected and supported by the Programme Manager of the Operations Team, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer (Research and Analysis Team), the Accountant from the Finance Team and the Programme Administrator. Additional support and assistance are provided by the Executive Committee comprising of the Board Members, the various volunteers, the office helpers and the other agencies and individuals positioned in the periphery.

Chief Executive Officer (Founder-Director)

Ms. Jameela Nishat


Jameela began her professional career as an enthusiastic feminist poet. Listening to the heart-wrenching life stories of suffering women inspired her to use the pen to bring out the intensity of their anguish. Jameela Sayeed began using the pen name ‘Jameela Nishat’ to express on paper and is now known by that name in the fraternity. With a master’s degree in English Literature and a postgraduate diploma in Theatre Arts, her grasp over the content she produces is innovative and magical. As a poet, she has a proclivity towards the marginalised Urdu dialect Dakhani (Deccani) in which women poets and writers are seldom acknowledged. She strives to work towards creating a public space for these women writers to dismantle the patriarchal values that are embedded in the language. When she first stepped into the Old City, Hyderabad in 2002, just after the riots had ripped the nation apart, the neighbourhood was desolate with remains of parched homes and shops, leaving behind horrific landscapes and increased incidences of gender violence. This is when Jameela decided to establish a space where women could feel safe, heal, and re-integrate themselves. Starting her journey with only a handful of dedicated girls and a rented space, the team has intensely toiled to establish its ground in the area. Over these years, Shaheen has provided a platform for marginalised women and young girls to break out of traditional barriers and gain control of their socio-economic rights. From receiving personal death threats to attacks on the organisation, Jameela has courageously fought it all along with her team.

Organisation Steerers - Social Leaders

There are seven social leaders who form the pillars of the organisation. They constitute of the second-in-line leadership in the management structure. This core team of social leaders is led by Shaheda Begum, who also represents the Board as the Treasurer. The others on the lead team include Archana, Zehra, Pooja, Anita, Sultana and Devaki. Many of them have several awards and recognitions to their names for their bravery, fighting spirit and their outstanding contribution to the field of social work and service. Other trainers, skill training teachers and community mobilisers work under the guidance of this lead team. For each of the four resource centres, there are two community coordinators assigned. Most of the staff members are women, with two to three men on the team.

Shaheda Begum

Team Leader

Shaheda has been associated with Shaheen since the time of its inception. She was only 14 years old then when she brought for Shaheen its first domestic violence case. Her parents became furious for choosing to become a witness to the abuse and restricted her mobility. However, her quest for rendering justice could not restrain her and she continued her work. Over the years, Shaheda became one of the key persons in the organisation. She conducted many sting operations against Sheikh marriages, saving lives of many young girls from the clutches of Sheikhs and brokers. She is a certified counsellor and conducts guided imagery sessions to identify violence in the lives of young women. She sincerely leads her team and plays a pivotal role in running the organisation smoothly.


Resource Centre Coordinator

Archana was a dropout student. When she joined Shaheen in 2007, she was still unaware about gender issues and legal rights. She grew up in a normative environment where girls and women were constantly marginalised and disempowered. With the help of the organisation, Archana joined the Open School System and acquired her 10th Class certificate. She was trained by Shaheen to teach educational & health workshops, legal awareness classes, etc. She also learnt four-wheeler driving. 

At home, there was increasing pressure from her male relatives to get married quickly. When Archana realised that their adamancy was due to property issues, she refused to get married for the wrong reasons. She held her ground and wanted to wait. When her brother became estranged from the family, Archana had to juggle the responsibilities of taking care of her parents and work. When her father passed away eventually, she performed his funeral rites, breaking the conventional ritual. She strongly held onto the family reins in the absence of her brother in spite of societal pressure. Archana’s mother supported her throughout her long struggle for empowerment. Archana’s message of becoming self-empowered and asserting one’s decision-making power is powerful. She hopes that every girl and young woman becomes a leader. 

Zehra Jabeen

Resource Centre Coordinator

Zehra joined Shaheen in 2011 and completed her education with the help of the organisation. Prior to joining Shaheen, Zehra had restricted mobility. As she gained awareness on gender issues, she became more vocal and learnt to negotiate for her rights within her family. She started voicing her opinion against injustices. Zehra is a Young Women’s Leader (YWL), trained under the South Asian Young Women’s Leadership and Mentoring Initiative (SAYWLM). She imparts her knowledge to other young girls and helps build leadership qualities among young women and adolescent girls.

K. Pooja

Resource Centre Coordinator

Pooja is a violence survivor. Being a Dalit (scavenger-community), she was victimised to caste-based violence. She was also victimised to gender-based violence and sexual violence as a minor. She came to Shaheen in 2014 to learn mehendi designing skill. Later on, she was keen on learning other skills too and eventually began attending awareness programmes. As her awareness grew, she dreamed of working in the same organisation one day. Two years later, in 2016, Pooja started working at Shaheen. She owes her growth and self-development to the organisation. Shaheen has taught her to become self-confident and assertive. Her views and perceptions on patriarchy, violence, casteism, class and gender changed after she gained awareness in Shaheen.

Pooja is a Young Women’s Leader (YWL), trained under the South Asian Young Women’s Leadership and Mentoring Initiative (SAYWLM). She began her career in Shaheen as a community mobiliser and now she organises training programmes, teaches computer, initiates community campaigns, attends national level seminars and workshops, and so on. She is also the lead singer in Qawwali. She is economically independent and has rented an apartment for herself, living all alone in a different locality, away from the scorns of her own community.

K. Anita

Data Operations

A timid and dominated upon homemaker, Anita did not have much say in her marital family. She was not allowed to step out of the house on her own, was completely dependent on her husband and only took care of the household prior to joining the organisation. When her husband, who was the sole earning member in the family became paralysed, Anita’s life turned upside down. She had a sick husband and four children to take care of. While tailoring alone could not sustain their livelihood and the children had to drop out of school, someone referred her to Shaheen. There was no looking back thereafter. Anita had a good grasp on English language and she acquired digital skills quickly. She attended awareness programmes and eventually enrolled her children for skill courses too. She joined as a field officer, but now she deals with data operations.

Sultana Begum

Resource Centre Coordinator

Sultana is a survivor of violence. Born in a family which assigned girls and women a lower social status, Sultana was victimised to gender discrimination since childhood. Education of women was considered a sin. Sultana was married off at a very young age to an abusive man. She became pregnant soon. He subjected her to domestic violence on a daily basis and one day, the abuse crossed all limits. He drugged her, hit on her head with a brick and cut off her nose and upper lip. She remained in a comatose state for six months and also delivered her baby. Even after this, her relatives subjected her to verbal and mental abuse. Despite not getting any support, Sultana has built her own identity today. She is socio-economically independent and is able to take decisions for herself and her child’s life. Her work at Shaheen has been instrumental in her becoming holistically empowered. At Shaheen, she is involved in conducting educational and social activism programmes with girls and women. 

Sultana hopes that the darkness and struggles she had to face in the past will be illuminated by her story and bring awareness to an issue that has been kept under the blankets in Indian society. She hopes that every girl and woman may lead a life filled with opportunities and choices. 

K. Devaki


Before joining Shaheen in 2014, Devaki was working as a counsellor at the Central Crime Station, Hyderabad. Her previous work experience offered good rapport-building with the police personnel and the District Legal Services Authority, which also helped Shaheen along the way. Although Devaki did not have prior experience at the grassroot level, she quickly adapted to the environment and the community accepted her as the counsellor. She also conducts legal awareness programmes within the community. Devaki admits that Shaheen has given her the exposure to work on diverse cases of violence. She conducts joint counselling sessions with families, individual counselling sessions with young girls and women with regard to violence in their lives. She also provides career counselling to the adolescents. Each case registered in the organisation has a file assigned to it and all the details are documented till closure.

Support System

The core team is connected and supported by the Programme Manager (Operations Team), the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer (Research and Analysis Team), the Accountant (Finance Team) and the Programme Administrator. Additional support and assistance are provided by the Executive Committee, the various volunteers, the office helpers and the other agencies and individuals positioned in the periphery.

Godavari Kollati

Programme Manager

Godavari joined Shaheen in 2021 as the Programme Manager. Prior to this, she was a content writer for a social start-up, focusing on menstrual health & hygiene articles. Godavari has completed her masters in History from Delhi University. Her passion is to further girls and women’s empowerment. She believes that as women have been historically disadvantaged and restricted, it is necessary to bridge this gap and level the gender playing field in households, schools/colleges and workspaces. 

Godavari’s other interests include reading novels, writing book reviews (albeit, infrequently), illustration and being a skincare and makeup enthusiast.

Nilika Dutta

Monitoring and Evaluation Officer

Nilika joined the organisation in 2018, while she was pursuing her PhD in Human Rights from the University of Hyderabad. She had always wanted to work on core gender issues and found her niche aligned to that of Shaheen’s mission. Nilika had prior field experience on women inmates in correctional homes and women subjected to marital violence. She also has few publications in the field of women’s rights. Shaheen’s unique approach and untiring efforts, its depth of work and powerful grassroot success stories fascinated Nilika to continue working with the organisation, balancing both work and academics.

Apart from this, Nilika finds keen interest in creativity. She is enthusiastic about wildlife photography, loves to travel and create cinematic videos. She is extremely passionate about baking and calls herself a budding entrepreneur.

Rama Devi Ramindla



Rama Devi Ramindla joined as an accountant in 2014. She completed her MBA in finance. After a gap of 7 years of being a homemaker, it became very difficult to get a job as a fresher. Rama feels that, as Shaheen encourages every woman to work, she too got the opportunity to work. She now has financial freedom too.

Farhana Aziz

Programme Administrator

Before joining Shaheen in the December of 2020, Farhana was working as a teacher for 13 years. She has a masters degree in Commerce. As a single mother, Farhana faced several challenges in her life, especially during the pandemic period. However, she did not lose hope and knew that her education would certainly fetch her some socio-economic stability. Farhana is a domestic violence survivor herself and when she came to know about Shaheen’s work, she grabbed the opportunity to serve the violence survivors’ community that she was once part of. Farhana claims to have learnt a lot during her time in the organisation and she wishes to continue her journey with Shaheen.

Executive Committee - Board Members

The Executive Committee comprises of an all-women Board that has representation from diverse socio-religious and ethnic communities.

Dr Rekha Abel


Dr Rekha Abel has a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Hyderabad. Keenly interested in school education and child rights, she joined Catholic Relief Services in 1995 and worked with them anchoring the education and child rights programming for close to 15 years and was the Deputy Country Representative for CRS. She has also worked as a Senior Consultant to the Government of Andhra Pradesh on the implementation of RTE in AP. She has assisted different organisations in developing strategic visions and plans, apart from conducting evaluations and assessments. She is currently based in Bangalore. Her key interests and strengths are in the areas of child rights, education and Dalit human rights.

Dr. Shilpaa Anand


Shilpaa is an Associate Professor at BITS Pilani, Hyderabad Campus. She completed her PhD degree in Disability Studies from University of Illinois, Chicago. She continues to research in the interdisciplinary area of disability studies. Her research interests include historiography of disability and culturally different concepts of corporeality. Her papers have been published in edited volumes on disability studies in India and South Asia as well as in scholarly journals.

She has an honorary affiliation with the Centre for Disability Studies at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad as Distinguished Research Fellow.

Jameela Sayeed/Jameela Nishat

General Secretary

Jameela, who is the CEO of the organisation, also holds the position of General Secretary in the Board.

Humera Moinuddin

Joint Secretary

Humera calls herself a visionary individual with a mission to create a better Earth for all living beings. She holds a master’s degree in Psychology from Osmania University, Hyderabad. Thereafter, she started working as an educator in an international school in Saudi Arabia. This field brought her immense pleasure as she witnessed the marvel of knowledge unfolding and saw young minds blossoming into productive individuals. Her teaching objective was simple and clear, to facilitate my students in defining their learning goals and taking responsibility for their own growth and development. To become a better educator, she pursued a TEFL certification from London’s Teacher Training College and underwent a voluntary workshop in Montessori methodology. Inspired by Maria Montessori’s philosophy, she further enrolled herself in UNICEF and completed courses in child safety and welfare. Her association with Shaheen is in line with her ultimate goal to contribute to the development of society and uplift the underprivileged, making her life truly worthwhile.

Shaheda Begum


Shaheda, who leads the team of organisation social leaders, also serves as the Treasurer in the Board.

Dr. Rohina Rajesh


Dr Rohina Gupta started off as a medical professional and she has now acquired various skills which altered the way she viewed medicine and health care. Primarily it was her foray into palliative care, that is, end of life health care. This was a life-changing experience. It has given her invaluable training and experience, particularly in counselling, advocacy, awareness, and management in the area of palliative care.

This made her aware of the need to broaden the horizon of the practice of modern medicine with tradition healing practices. This enables Rohina to treat the patient and not the disease. She believes integrative medicine is better able to relieve suffering, reduce stress, and maintain the well-being of the patients.

Mythili Nayar


Mythili started her career as a Professor in the Department of English, Women’s Christian College, Chennai. Her years of service in that capacity gave her more than experience as a language teacher. She learned much about the aspirations and capabilities of young women from all socio-economic backgrounds. From 2000 onwards, Mythili worked as a freelancer for institutions such as the British Council and Cambridge Examinations, conducting training sessions for teachers. She continues to work in language assessment. She has continually volunteered at NGOs such as Anthra and Shaheen, assisting in translation or training their members in various specific language skills. For the past ten years, Mythili has been a master trainer for the American government funded ACCESS program, created to improve the communication skills of young people from underprivileged backgrounds in the cities.

Currently, along with the work mentioned above, Mythili is training to be an artist. She is a published illustrator of several children’s books and is now looking to deepen her understanding of art. It is her dream to use art for therapy, something she was doing in a limited way at Dhrithi, a psychiatric care facility in the city.