THE first-ever Asian woman voted on to Kirklees Council today pledged to make her voice heard.
Businesswoman and mother-of-two Shahida Awan has worked tirelessly in the community for many years.
Vowing to help anyone in her Crosland Moor ward whatever their race, religion or politics, the new Liberal Democrat councillor has taken an important step forward for Asian women.
Married to Shabir, the couple have two children - Hamza, aged eight and Minah, three.
Women from the Asian and black communities are woefully under-represented in politics.
Nationally, out of 659 MPs, just 12 are black or Asian. Of those, only two are women.
Clr Awan has lived in Huddersfield for 23 years. She is a founder member and chairman of the Huddersfield Pakistan Community Alliance and a founder of the Neighbourhood Learning Centre in Thornton Lodge.
She also sits on Huddersfield's Interfaith Council and is a director of Voluntary Action Kirklees.
She said: "I was doing so much in the community that it was natural progression to become a councillor."
She is now a member of four Kirklees committees: planning and highways, appeals and scrutiny panels for special social affairs and regeneration.
She explained: "When I was studying law I realised politics plays a central role in shaping society. Everything that we do, politics is involved - whether it's education, health or housing.
"But within community work you can't go very far because you are not involved in the decision-making."
Although Clr Awan met pockets of bigoted resistance throughout her election campaign, she received far more support.
"Women are delighted and I had a lot of support from Muslim men."
She will do much to help families, the young and the elderly.
"Older people are vulnerable and need more support than the rest of the community and they are very close to my heart."
She now hopes more Muslim women will follow her lead and go into politics.
"Somebody had to break the ice. It was a new concept for the Asian community," she said.
"There are quite a few women who are very much interested now and want to come forward. People do have the ability but they were too scared to come out.
"I want political parties to open their doors to Asian women and realise the difficulties they have to face to stand in local elections."
* Huddersfield's first woman Mayor was Mary Sykes. She was appointed in November 1945.
* Greenhead's Labour Councillor Mohan Sokhal became the first Asian Mayor of Kirklees in 2001.
* The first Asian MP to be elected for the House of Commons was Dadabhai Naoroji in 1892 for the Liberal Party in Central Finsbury London.
* There are no Asian women MPs.