I am Inspired...
I am the oldest daughter in the family, my twin sister being only 15 minutes younger than me. We were raised in a much protected environment, surrounded by aunts and few uncles. Then came my youngest sister completing the family of 5, my parents and their three daughters… but that wasn’t enough, after 15 years we realized that our family is still incomplete and we got a Female Dog!.
My father who went to Harvard with my mother 23 years ago for Love and studies to always tell us that me and my twin sister were conceived at Harvard, and he wish to see us study there, my father, unlike most men in a stereotypical society is our backbone, He always tell us to dream big and don’t be afraid. I have been an average student all my life but I think that my determination and a quest to my fathers dream has paid off well so far.
My adolescence in rural Balochistan, a back of beyond of my country and adulthood in urban Lahore opened new insights of attitudes and living styles of my people. The shift was so massive that in Balochistan women would hide themselves at the slightest breech of privacy, in Lahore they would confidently fight to gain the space and be heard. This exposed me to problems that were common in transition from adolescence to youth accompanied by emotional stress. As a 9th grader my anxiety found vent in an internship at a local hospital in Lahore where I met women and children deprived of basics of life. As much as I grieved about the situation, I did little than to be thankful for being born in a “liberal” family where women were allowed to both study and work. That day onwards I felt obliged to shift my thinking from “me” to “we” and woke up to the idea of pursuing my career in development sector.
My father served the United Nations for 5 years and at that time I never understood the importance of how prestigious the organization is, in a pursuit to understand the organization I joined UNICEF as an intern where I was repeatedly reminded to think big.
Year 2008 became the most fundamental year for me as it defined who I am, what I want in life and who do I want to become. Working at the UN Headquarters, New York was an experience I will never regret, in spite of all the financial and academic sacrifices it entailed. Being the youngest Pakistani to be selected amongst the pool of 20,000 people around the world, I felt fortunate. I started my internship just when the weeklong General debate opened the 63rd General Assembly, and head of states, ambassadors, and political leaders from 192 states of the world convened in the same hall I sat, in the presence of the world leaders I dreamed of an opportunity to be able to be a leader in my own skin.
I retuned to Pakistan with a more action oriented mind set and started working at United Nations Development Programme, Islamabad. Through the gender equality initiatives of the organization I am learning about the limited role of the national focal ministry for the advancement of women in advocating and integrating women concerns in all public policies and programmes of government. I particularly witnessed the outcome on the ground when I met women who were not aware of their legal rights and did not know that dowry is violence against women. I often questioned myself that how many women are aware of the policies made for them, and what good does it bring to their lives? Subsequently, while working at UNFPA Youth programme I learnt that Pakistan has documented its 1st National Youth Policy in 63 years of existence, which is yet in the implementation process. I wonder how many young people know that there is a policy which addresses their concerns without their mutual consultation.
When I think of this I always question that where is the action? What can we do for women and young people in our country? With this thought over the past few years I have taken a few steps to empower young people and have been inspired by so many wonderful people around me. Voices of Our Future gives me a chance to be able to put into words what I feel is important, through this platform, to be able to form an informed, unbiased opinion using fact and theory, would be one step towards playing my role as a Wonder Woman in Pakistan's future!