7 March 2019
International Women's Day
Sonia Aksi, otherwise known by her stage name DJ Sonia, did not let her gender, religion or societal expectations keep her away from pursuing her dreams. She had to go it alone to shatter the glass ceiling, to eventually rise up and become Scotland’s first female Asian DJ in 2000.
Aksi has been DJ-ing for 19 years now, and says it was not an easy ride to the top. Her choice of career was one which was not approved of and led to her community frowning upon her, particularly because she was a female entering into a ‘secular field’.
“I was a single parent when I decided to take up this career, so it wasn’t an easy ride, especially being Asian, being single, Pakistani and Muslim.” Said Sonia, adding “I had no support from my family, from my friends or anybody whatsoever. They didn’t like what I was doing, but I stuck to my guns because I believed in what I was doing”.
An invite by Aksi’s best friend to play music at a bachelorette party, led to Aksi seeing DJ’ing as something for the long term. “Muslim women are not supposed to dance in front of men, so she asked me to DJ during her hen night, and everyone loved it. Afterwards, her friends who attended the party started calling me up to DJ in their own bachelorette parties.”
Another challenge faced was that, at the time, no one in the industry wanted to lend her a hand, so she is very much a self-taught DJ. “It was so male dominated at that time and I did ask some other male DJs at the time if I could join them but they declined, none of them got back to me.”
Aksi’s love for music coupled with her sheer drive and determination led to her being recognized in 2013, when she won the Scottish Asian Women’s awards, for her contribution towards Asian society.
She also works as a radio presenter hosting a drive-time show every Tuesday from 4-6pm on Awaaz FM. As well as this, she has also established her own Roadshow ‘SoniqueSounds’. She has worked alongside renowned artists such as Jay Sean, Imran Khan, Dr Zeus, Bilaal Saeed, Roach Killa and Navin Kundra.
The theme for the 2019 International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter, to help raise awareness against bias and champion for a gender-balanced world, through celebrating women’s achievement.
You can participate in a number of International Women’s Day events that are happening in Glasgow: here.