Every night over a billion people go to bed starving. Women and children are abused and denied self-worth and over two hundred million people are still in abject slavery. Freddie Mercury was right to ask, Is this the world we created?

Zoroastrians are unable to let injustice rest. Fighting evil in its many ugly forms is in their nature. This heritage of noble action and universal charity was the spur for Zerbanoo to stand for public office in 1982, ninety years after her hero, Dadabhai Naoroji, had been elected as a Liberal MP. In her election campaign Zerbanoo faced the full force of the British National Party, who were determined that no non-white woman like Zerbanoo should hold political power in Britain.

Zerbanoo’s election victory gave her another platform for her courage and determination to take on injustice and intolerance. She has dedicated herself to women’s empowerment, the Interfaith movement and the eradication of modern-day slavery, especially child labour and the trafficking of women.

Zerbanoo has supported her lawyer husband, Richard, in the fight against the illegal expulsion of the Chagossians from their Indian Ocean homeland.

All Zerbanoo’s campaigns are interlinked, and involve working with other individuals and organisations aiming to end human indignities.

The Z Factor highlights just some of Zerbanoo’s social and political campaigns; the anti-apartheid struggle; fronting documentaries on the appalling lives of street children; writing, giving talks and fundraising to highlight our unequal world; setting up an Inspirational Women’s website with an international mentoring scheme; to founding the unique ASHA Centre.

Cosmic networker

Zerbanoo first confronted the issue of child poverty when she was a little girl. She made and sold flags for a penny to passers-by outside her family hotel in London. She collected five pounds and sent it to the Prime Minister of India, asking for action. Today, Zerbanoo is known as someone who makes things happen. She is a cosmic networker. Her ability to connect people, whose magnificent causes she always supports, has proved invaluable.

Zerbanoo and Bishop Trevor Huddleston presenting a petition to 10 Downing Street calling for the release of Nelson Mandela.

Zerbanoo speaking at Trafalgar Square with the then leader of the Labour Party, Neil Kinnock, accompanied by his wife, Glenys, calling for full mandatorysanctions against South Africa.

Thousands of people in Trafalgar Square supporting the anti-apartheid movement.

Zerbanoo’s campaign leaflets.

At the Liberal Party conference in Eastbourne, holding her British passport aloft to expose discrimination against British citizens born outside the UK. Her speech was featured on BBC News and led directly to change.

Child labour

Today the number of children in bonded labour is higher than it was before the so  called abolition of slavery. Millions worldwide are subjected to violent sexual attacks and forced to work in mines, farms, factories and even brothels in the most terrible conditions. They are denied a childhood because of the greed of their owners and those who wish to buy goods at an unrealistically cheap price. Every child should be entitled to an education, healthcare, food and a loving home. Anything else is an indictment on us all.

Chagos Islanders

In the 1960s, superpower rivalry made victims of 2,000 Chagos Islanders, when they were evicted from their idyllic archipelago to make way for a US military base on Diego Garcia, one of the 55 islands. This act of ethnic cleansing showed Britain in the last throes of colonial arrogance, using underhand methods to conceal a crime against humanity. Britain lied to the UN, saying the Chagossians had been consulted, compensation would be paid and they were merely contract workers. In fact, this settled population was deported in dreadful conditions 1,000 miles to Mauritius and the Seychelles, where they have lived in poverty and exile ever since. The court victory of 2000 was their first step in a legal marathon, which continues today.

Zerbanoo with rescued street children in India who now live in the Sneha Sadan Homes and are loved and cared for.

Raising awareness

In all her books, Zerbanoo has championed the achievements and noble campaigns of heroes and heroines who deserve acclaim, like Thomas Clarkson. Described by Zerbanoo as one of the noblest of Englishmen, he dedicated his life to ending the transatlantic slave trade and yet was written out of our history books.

In 1992 Zerbanoo co-chaired the Dadabhai Naoroji Centenary, for which she wrote his biography, in order to bring to light one of the best kept secrets of British political life – that there had been a non-white MP, elected to Parliament in 1892, in the reign of Queen Victoria.

In 2004 Zerbanoo was awarded a NESTA Fellowship (National Endowment, Science, Technology and Art) for which she interviewed and wrote about over 300 women from 60 countries, whose inspirational lives have changed our world.

Zerbanoo’s husband, Richard, with older Chagos Islanders, and (right) some younger Chagossians wondering if they will ever return to their home.

Eight-year-old boy working in a Columbian mine

Leader of the Chagos Refugee Group, Olivier Bancoult, with Richard, his lawyer, leaving the High Court in London after a legal

victory, in which the deportation of the Chagossians was declared unlawful. Four years later the British government abolished their right of return.