SCOTLAND'S first refugee councillor has been named one of the most influential women of 2022 by the BBC.

Glasgow Girl Roza Salih, who was elected to Glasgow City Council to represent Greater Pollok earlier this year, has been included in the 10th edition of the BBC 100 Women 2022 - a list of inspiring females from around the world.

The SNP's Salih - who arrived in Scotland as a young girl after her family was forced to flee Iraq - has been included alongside huge names including singer Billie Eilish, Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska, and actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

Salih said she felt honoured to be on the list after working hard since she was 15 to improve the lives of refugees in Scotland.

She told the National: "All the Glasgow Girls contacted me to say how proud they are. I'm very happy and honoured.

"When they [the BBC] first told me I was like 'Really? You want me to be on that list?'. It's amazing I've been recognised as one of the most influential women in the world.

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"There are so many amazing women out there so for me to be on that list - I just don't know how to express it in words. It's an incredible feeling.

"It’s been one hell of a journey – coming in as a refugee and then trying to improve refugee lives. I’ve been vocal since I was 15 – how many people can say that?"

The 33-year-old was born in Southern Kurdistan and is a co-founder of Scottish Solidarity With Kurdistan.

%image('16235754', type="article-full", alt="Roza Salih celebrated with Nicola Sturgeon and other councillors when she was elected in May")

Salih came to Scotland with her family to seek asylum in 2001 when she was 12 after her grandfather and two uncles were executed for opposing the then-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. 

Along with her friends at Drumchapel High School, she successfully campaigned to prevent the deportation of their school friend Agnesa Murselaj, a Roma from Kosovo, as well as the dawn raids and detention of children.

The schoolgirls became known as the Glasgow Girls, and a musical staged about them was premiered at the Citizens Theatre in 2012.

Salih added: "I’ve worked really hard.

"It can be lonely when you’re an activist and campaigner and I think through life people have been very supportive.

"I have been very vocal about refugee rights and whatever platform I’ve had I’ve tried to help and assist people who are trying to make Scotland their new home so it’s really nice to be recognised for that." 

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Salih says she is now looking to raise awareness of issues refugees face when it comes to work rights, following on from work she did in 2014 to secure funding from Strathclyde University to allow asylum seekers to study. 

Through her work as a councillor, she is hoping to make more refugees aware of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) which contains skilled worker jobs that the UK Government deems are in short supply within the UK labour market. 

For jobs on the SOL, the UK immigration rules for work visas are relaxed to make it easier for overseas workers with the required skills and experience to come to the UK, but Salih says a lot of refugees are unaware of this. 

She added: "I want to continue helping people and advocate on a lot of things people are not aware of." 

In its description of the 100 Women list this year, the BBC said: "This is the 10th season of 100 Women, so we are taking the opportunity to explore what progress has been made over the last decade. 

"While there have been huge steps forward for women's rights - from the number of female leaders to the MeToo movement - for women in many corners of the world it still feels like there is a long way to go.  

"The list also reflects the role of women at the heart of conflict around the world in 2022 – from the protesters bravely demanding change in Iran, to the female faces of conflict and resistance in Ukraine and Russia. 

"For the first time this year, we have also asked previous 100 Women to nominate others who they felt deserved a place on the 2022 list."