College is a blissful utopia where one feels they are ready to conquer the world and take on whatever challenge is thrown their way, but it is also a time when your insecurities are also at their peak. Pakistani women, while ambitious, need that push to make their dreams into a reality, even with all the social restrictions that might come with the job.
The Express Tribune talks to model turned entrepreneur Vaneeza Ahmed about recently joining the Woman of Strength Campaign. They have taken the initiative of inspiring young women to take care of their physical and emotional wellbeing in a society where they have to work extra hard to make a living.
“It is about highlighting strong women and what they have done in their lives. It all started for me in college. I was a complete tomboy and lacked confidence in myself,” says Ahmed. She talks about how she had to push herself to try new and different things that made her realise that she could achieve things if she put her mind to it. “My first affirmation was when I got cast as the lead in the college play and then got selected for the annual fashion show,” continues Ahmed. “I never thought I was capable of doing this, but I pushed myself and doors kept on opening after that,” she adds.
The programmeme recognises that young women in Pakistan require guidance from women they can look up to. The initiative includes inspirational talks and sessions at almost 200 colleges across Pakistan. “I don’t know how much of a difference this will make, but if my story can inspire even one person, I think the job is done. People here have talent but they lack the confidence and drive to achieve it. Once you give them the confidence that they too, can achieve their goals, one can see a difference being made,” says Ahmed.
Along with the Woman of Strength programme, Vaneeza Ahmed has also signed up for a Mentor programme, which also highlights inspirational women, who then select more women that inspire them. “The programme gives a larger spectrum of women to look up to, it is all about highlighting women and what they are doing in their lives,” comments Ahmed.
The model talks about how nowadays social restrictions do not stop you from working. “With social media and the internet, you can stay at home and do something,” she continues.
As she plays with her daughter during the interview, Vaneeza talks about the importance of motherhood: “If we can even just become the best mothers, the world would be a better place. I started my family after I had reached the pinnacle of my career and at that point nothing seemed more important to me than my child.”
Both programmes are about highlighting the strength of women and when there is a will there is a way. “We have the emotional strength that men don’t, so if we put our minds to it, we can really make a difference.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2014.
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