Durdana Ansari OBE – first Muslim woman captain of the British Royal Navy

To commemorate the College’s bicentenary in 2023, we’re showcasing 200 ‘Birkbeck Effects’ which capture the incredible stories of our vibrant and diverse community, highlighting their achievements and impact on the world. 

Durdana Ansari

Durdana is an entrepreneur and activist and the first Muslim woman appointed as Honorary Captain of the British Royal Navy. She is a former charity director and journalist at the BBC World Service and received her degree in media and journalism from Birkbeck.

Durdana established The Pearl Foundation to teach English, reading, writing and computer skills to British-Muslim women, as well as integrate these women into wider society by building self-confidence and enhancing their quality of life. Her work with ‘The Pearl Education Foundation’ and the ‘Ethnic Minorities Foundation’ led to the recruitment of approximately 9000 students and 700 volunteers.

She was awarded ‘Order of the British Empire’ (OBE) in 2012 and is currently working on her autobiography to share her experiences and inspire the next generation: “I want the world to know how a woman from a developing country managed to follow her passions and achieve her goals.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.