Zahrah Mahmood named Ramblers Scotland President

© Ramblers Scotland

Zahrah Mahmood has become the new president of walking charity Ramblers Scotland. Also known as the Hillwalking Hijabi, the 31-year-old chartered accountant is well known for championing diversity in the outdoors and for climbing hills wearing her hijab head covering.

A Muslim woman of South Asian heritage, Zahrah hopes to use the high-profile honorary role to help encourage wider representation in the walking community.

"I feel honoured to be appointed to the role of president" she said.

"I have high hopes for my appointment and want to follow in the steps of my predecessors while putting my own stamp on the role. I'm looking forward to the next three years.

"Most will agree that hillwalking brings physical and mental health benefits. But I've also managed to enhance my spiritual health through the outdoors."

Rambers Scotland appointed their first female president, Lucy Wallace, in 2020. At the time Lucy spoke about the lack of prominent female voices in the outdoors, and Zahrah too has raised the question of representation - not least in an interview with UKHillwalking:

"Some of the factors stopping ethnic minorities enjoying the outdoors are the same for a lot of people regardless of background; finances, access, time and other priorities" she said, on the announcement of her presidency.

"But another barrier is fear of putting yourself in a situation where you know you will stand out in a predominantly white space. That unfortunately has a lot to do with the lack of representation from outdoor companies and brands, and not seeing someone who looks like you being represented in a meaningful way." 

Zahrah, who lives in Glasgow with her husband Tom and their one-year-old boy, Muhammad Harris, was appointed to the three-year voluntary role on 4th March.

Ramblers Scotland director Brendan Paddy said that she was the ideal candidate to inspire people of all backgrounds to enjoy the benefits of walking.

"We have a lot to learn from Zahrah's success in encouraging more people to feel confident and empowered to enjoy all the health and social benefits of adventures on foot" he said.

"Despite booming numbers of people walking in Scotland, and the success of our world-class access rights, participation in the outdoors remains unequal. For example, people in affluent areas are considerably more likely to walk than those in deprived parts of Scotland.

"Too many people still feel that walking is not for them, simply due to their background, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability or age. We look forward to working with our president Zahrah and others in the years to come to create an outdoors for all."

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