10 Powerful Pakistani Women to Inspire You on Women’s Day
8th March is celebrated worldwide as International Women’s Day and you will find many articles and posts online about strong women to inspire and motivate you. But what saddened me was the lack of Pakistani women in the lineup of inspirational quotes or stories. There are many international icons that are not only inspirational but teach us to stand up for ourselves but Pakistani women have it harder. We live in a country dominated by toxic patriarchal values and the effort it takes to survive in such conditions is a lot. So here are some of the strongest Pakistani women that make us proud for the various efforts they have made to break the glass ceiling.
1. Tahira Qazi
It should not be a surprise that the motherly actions of Tahira Qazi has got her on top of our list. School principals are responsible people but Ms. Qazi showed how heroic they can be when she sacrificed herself for the students she thought of as her own children. On the horrific day the APS school in Peshawar was attacked and innocent little children were made targets of ugly terrorism, Ms. Qazi made sure to protect and keep safe her students, not revealing their location when interrogated. We will always remember her motherly and heroic actions as a proof of how mothers truly are the best creatures created.
2. Ayesha Farooq
Pakistan and South Asia’s first female fighter pilot, Ayesha Farooq is a not only strong in the physical sense of the word but also strong as a personality. The woman that can put Top Gun’s Tom Cruise to shame, and has, is busy fighting terrorists in the Waziristan region while still remaining a Pakistani Muslim woman covered in her scarf. Her heroic activities and close connection to faith makes her the ultimate hero and who our children should be looking up to.
3. Farahnaz Zahidi
The only Pakistani women to be included in the Women Deliver’s list of 15 most powerful female journalists is none other than Farahnaz Zahidi. The organization works for women’s rights worldwide and recognized Zahidi’s efforts to bring to light the struggles faced by Pakistani women. She was brave enough to talk about women’s health and rights on a public platform which not many Pakistanis do. We are proud of her for choosing to use her talents for the betterment of Pakistani women.
4. Shaheena Waqar
Shaheena Waqar established the Women Aid Trust in 1997 with her fellow friends and has since been working for the imprisoned women in the country that have been left to die in prison. She works to teach them social and economical skills so that they can rebuild their lives after coming back in the real world. Women in prison rarely get any care or attention, so the organization is working to help them establish themselves to be able to survive on their own once they are released.
5. Arfa Karim
Who can forget the computer prodigy of Pakistan who became the youngest to be a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) in 2004 at the tender age of nine years old. Even Bill Gates was highly impressed after she passed her Microsoft exam and invited her to the US headquarters of Microsoft. She was also the youngest Pakistani to get the President’s award of Pride of Performance in 2005. Her death in 2012 the age of 16 shook the whole country. We lost a beautiful soul that day and will remember her as the IT genius that she was.
6. Muniba Mazari
The strong-willed artist, Muniba was forced into a wheelchair following a terrible accident but she did not let that pull her down. She rose from the ashes and became a strong beacon of hope for people in a country where disabled people are not respected. She works for children’s rights and education which is another great aspect of her personality. Her art is her way to overcome the struggles in life and we salute her for being so strong in such adverse consequences.
7. Baroness Syeda Warsi
Syeda Warsi may have been born in the United Kingdom but she has fought for Pakistani issues. Her skills as a political figure and lawyer make her intelligent and not a woman you want to mess with. She even once wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of UK, David Cameron, for not taking any stance against Israel’ cruelty on the people of Gaza. That was not only brave but also powerful of her to be so outspoken about such a politically controversial issue.
8. Naila Jamall Aladin
Naila Jamall Aladin established The Learning Tree School in 2000. It may not seem as much of a big step compared to others on the list but the school is not just a regular educational institution. It helps children from all walks of life and even those with special needs and disabilities. The school is also dedicated to teaching students more than just mathematical equations as it lets them learn about important social needs that will help prepare them for the real world. She has our full support and encouragement in her endeavors.
9. Ainy Jaffri
Yes, Pakistan has its very own Avenger and its a lady in a Burka. Ainy Jaffri debuted in 2010 but she is not just another superficial tv star. She has voiced the first female animated superhero of Pakistan in the Nickelodeon Pakistan televised cartoon named Burka Avenger. The story follows a girl who fights crime and implements justice on criminals while being covered head to toe in a burka. That is surely the most empowering move in our industry. In a country full of stereotypes about women in burka and women in general, this character is not just an entertaining cartoon but a step in the right direction to empower the young girls of Pakistan.
10. Salma Habib
Salma Habib is not a famous celebrity, a motivational speaker and does not belong to a field like engineering or medical. She is just an average woman of Pakistan who is not so average. Salma has taken the initiative to teach and help the destitute children living on the streets. She helps them with resources, stationary and lessons on art. It helps them learn how to express themselves and develop an individuality. The movement may not be loud but it is effective in bringing colors to the dreary lives of these poor kids.
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