I was born in North Africa and spent most years of my teen life on the sunny Mediterranean island of Malta! I moved back to Pakistan at the age of 17 which was a bit of a culture shock with respect to people’s lifestyle. Despite being a developing nation, I started to observe so many habits, customary practices and behaviours in the people in my surrounding communities which did not aide their livelihoods but further exacerbated their economic situation. They were depressed and oppressed but they still decided to have eight children. They did not get good jobs due to lack of education but still allowed social barriers to hinder their girls from getting any education or learn skills.
This was something that I could not close my eyes to. I was preparing to go to university while girls around me were still not able to write their name! After a few sittings with the community women in sub-urban areas of Multan city, I knew I was not there without a reason; I had to do my part in making the change happen! The journey was not an easy one as I was still studying but I managed to work for the economic uplift of 63 young women in vocational training center through an initiative I started with the name ‘Peoples Development Organization.’ We held numerous events for awareness-raising on women and youth rights and managed to sensitize and educate hundreds of women about their social, political, and economic roles in the society.
I was one of the first young women in Southern Punjab who spoke eloquently about the discriminatory laws against women, like Hudood Ordinance and inhumane customary practices like Karo Kari, (form of honour killing) marriage to the Quran and issue of ‘forced disappearances’ by security agencies during Musharraf regime, both at public forums and with women living in depressed communities. It was not an easy task to work via volunteers and community group leaders but I feel it is worth it when I see those young skillful women financially supporting themselves and their families. They will remain empowered and no social and economic barrier can stop them from leading a dignified life even if they are still half witnesses according to state law!
Due to my involvements, I was full of exciting stories about outstanding and courageous women in remote areas who were coming up with innovative solutions to combat everyday challenges in their lives. Most of the stories were limited to the shelves of some organizational reports as the local media did not have space for them. I came across the World Pulse through twitter. I feel this is where my personal vision and the VoF at World Pulse connected. I am an avid user of some social media tools and had been planning to blog lately. I felt this was some place where I could connect, inform, learn and share and may be have links women with similar vision. And I am not disappointed!