She Inspires – A Unique Sorority
Generally when one hears about an all-female event, the impression is that a handful of typical topics will be discussed. However, on 29 October, SHE Inspires, the foundation of a sorority has been laid to break all sorts of stereotypes and aims to celebrate womanhood.
SHE Inspires 2016 is an idea to celebrate womanhood in Pakistan without taking any one extreme stance. The founder, Zoya Ishaq got this idea during her own experience with the international community during youth exchanges. People saw Pakistani women through the eyes of mainstream media only and she couldn’t identify with that narrow image. This is not to say that there was denial of on ground issues but it bugged Zoya that the resilience of women and what they were doing to bring out solutions to their problems and just excelling in pursuing what they want to do was missing.
Fast forward from an observation to a response and She Inspires came into being.
The event was an amalgamation of women representing all sorts of professions, socio-economic and age group bringing in their unique experiences and inspiring some two hundred participants.
The first half panel session had Zar Aslam, Kiran Khan, Amal Khan, Maria Umer and Seemi Raheel. Zar is the founder of the Pink Rickshaw initiative and talked about the importance of mobility to help empower women. It not only helps establish their mobility independence but their financial one as well. Sharing some of the success stories, she invited the participants to attend the next rally to show their support. Kiran shared her journey as a swimmer, the difficulties she faced and how she came over them. She also highlighted the need of the government and brands to come out with more support and structure to help female athletes to progress.
Amal as a journalist, shared the commonalities she discovered in women all across the globe. With all sorts of cultural and socio-economic difference they all have basics that unite them. Additionally she also covered her own career and how she is covering some issues that were once considered only a man’s domain. Maria Umer, of Women’s digital league and WomenX Pakistan shared her experience of coming from a traditional pakhtun background and making room for her career and maintaining a balance between what is considered two contradictory ideas. Her talk also focused on the importance of women entrepreneurship. Seemi Raheel’s session revolved around the importance of our emotional health, something that is conveniently ignored but in the end is very important to ensure a healthy lifestyle.
RJ Sophie in her keynote shared her journey to establish herself in the field. She also focused on the importance of going beyond superficiality and our need to stop judging others based on their outlook.
Kashf Foundation was represented by Zainab Saeed and along with sharing the work of the organization she shared the success story of the recently ended drama serial Udaari. This venture goes on to show the power of storytelling and how it can play a vital role in educating the society.
The panel on emerging women leaders had some amazing real life heroes that had the audience glued to each and every word. From entrepreneurs to food nutritionists to those who have broken taboos along their way. A common demonstrator of this session was that no matter what happens one should not give up on oneself and not let anyone define who you are or what you are capable of. Zahida Kazmi, Pakistan’s first taxi driver, Saniya Waqar, co-founder Sweet Affairs, Saba Gul Hasan Nutritionist, Abeer Nasim, clinical Psychologist and Founder of Skills, Mehak Naeem of Pehchaan and Summan Siddiqui, an intelligence services professional all reinforced this idea through their stories.
This session was followed by Mussarat Misbah along with some of the acid victim survivors from her Smile again foundation, sharing mindless logic behind such incidents, the disparity between the written law and its implementation and what can be done.
The concluding session recognized a few individual stories and initiatives that are doing unique work trying to make a difference. My Voice Unheard was represented by yours truly!
Along with the inspirational sessions there was entertainment in the form of instrumental performance by Arfa Chaudhry and the Phelaaj theater group.
Going forward we will be featuring many of these women here. Some you have already read about. Here’s wishing the organizing team a lot of luck to continue bringing more stories that can light the way for many more.
By Fatima Arif