By Myra Ahmed
Pakistan has produced some of the world's most empowered women, all working across many fields of work to change the world for the better. From the first ever female Prime Minister of a Muslim nation, Benazir Bhutto, to education activist Malala Yousafzai, women in Pakistan have truly made their mark, and in lieu of Pinktober, we are paying tribute to the most empowered Pakistani women of 2020. We want to thank all these amazing souls for giving us time out of their extremely busy schedules, and telling us all about their journey!
1. Dr. Syra Madad
Dr. Syra Madad is a Pakistani-American epidemiologist and public health specialist, and has been the driving force of COVID-19 response in the United States. Recently, Syra was featured on the Netflix documentary, Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak, where she highlighted her expertise in special pathogens, as well as her passion for the work she does. In conversation with Land of the Pure, she says that her work in the media was reflective of her passion for education and awareness, and she hoped to amplify the voices of Pakistani females within and beyond the medical industry. Despite being born and raised in the United States, Syra says that she is "just as Pakistani as anyone else", and as a woman, she is also a "mother, wife and daughter". Her passion for women empowerment is rooted in the genuine power of women, and she says that as "doctors, engineers, teachers, scientists, researchers" women "should always have a seat at the table and be heard." At Land of the Pure, our team consists entirely of young Pakistanis looking to change the world, and it is safe to say that Syra is a massive inspiration for us all!
2. Momina Naveed
A 20 y/o changemaker! Momina Naveed is a freshman at the prestigious Dartmouth College, studying Economics, Film and Media. Above all, however, is Momina's poetry; from the soul-stirring Azaadi to her more relaxed writing works, Momina has always used words to connect with her culture beyond the surface level. She says that her writing started in English, but she later began experimenting with Urdu in an effort to resonate with more of her audience. Her inspiration has always been her Nani, who she says had remarkable intellect and understanding of the world, despite never completing formal education. Momina's study of film and media is something she hopes to use as an instrument of change in Pakistan, and with her poems, she's already off to a great start! Check out her famed Azaadi here!
3. Kinza Hussain
YouTuber, blogger and medical student Kinza Hussain is one of the most loved members of the social media community, and has been supporting students through their medical school journey for a while now. Her videos range from daily vlogs to topical messages discussing important issues like mental health. Kinza tells us that she majored in Medical & Molecular Biology at college, following which she took a gap year to apply to med school. Her love for science is rooted in her love for connecting with new people and helping them through difficult parts of their life. Kinza says, "I started my channel actually as a DIY/beauty channel, which was SO not me, but I didn't know it back then. I realized it wasn't what I loved. I posted an MCAT reaction video spontaneously after taking the MCAT because I wanted to share how I thought it went. My video had hit 1000 views and that was a lot for me back then. I realized that my channel should share what I do day in and day out, so I started making more videos related to my medical journey & helping other premeds." Her openness towards her mental health struggles have helped countless other students work to prioritise their health over everything else, and Kinza has truly acted as an inspiration in this regard!
4. Abiha Haider
Footballer AND lawyer Abiha Haider is a gamechanger for Pakistani sportswomen and professionals alike! Her work in both fields has been beyond inspiring, and has significantly contributed to the changing landscape of work for women in Pakistan. Abiha is currently a member of Pakistan's national football team, and also practices law at an international corporate law firm. She says that both professions were her own choice, and she wanted to give back to the community that had built her up to who she is today. She says that she hopes her journey inspires other women to step into fields they may otherwise not consider, and also highlight how there are no limitations to what one can do.
5. Sumera Salim
Sumera Salim is a senior manager at the world-renowned non-profit organisation The Citizens Foundation. As the coordinator of community outreach, she has helped bring great traction towards the organisation's mission, and also founded and manages the Baaghbaan programme, through which organisations and individuals can begin their own fundraising campaigns. Sumera was the driving force of Land of the Pure's Educate-a-Classroom campaign (which you can donate to here!!!), and we are so happy to be able to feature her in this special article!
To all the amazing Pakistani women featured here, as well as those who work each and every day to make this world a better place with little or no recognition, we are so proud of you! Land of the Pure is an entirely female-run organisation, and your journeys inspire us everyday. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and it is so important that we continue to spread awareness of this in Pakistan and the world. Pakistan has the highest rate of annual cases in the entirety of Asia, and this cannot be countered without your support.
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