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‘All that’s needed for talented Pakistani women is initiative’

Anil Datta

Karachi: There’s a lot of talent and initiative among our women in each and every sphere of activity. All that is called for is initiative on the part of the society and the managers of our policies to nurture this talent and exploit it so that women could become equal partners in the development of society and the nation.

These were the words of Farida Dawood Rokadia at the launch of her book, Pakistani Women: Journeys of Success, at a hotel on Sunday evening.

“We have to help these young women realise their potential, which need not be in the realms of just fashion and beauty but in the other diverse nation-building fields,” she said.

Farida Dawood Rokadia, although from the most privileged segment of society, has not lost touch with the trials and tribulations of her less fortunate compatriots and despite being resident in the US for the past 38 years, takes keen interest in these altruistic pursuits and issues afflicting the not-so-fortunate members of our society, be they the lack of literacy or other issues pertaining to national development. Malaika Sayeed compered the proceedings.

A large number of women achievers, luminaries in various fields, were also present at the gathering. Some of them narrated their success stories and their road to achievement despite setbacks earlier on in their lives.

In many cases, it so happened that these very setbacks spurred them on to muster the determination and come to grips with adversity, ending in success stories.

Noted dance artiste Sheema Kirmani; Fawzia Naqvi, a highly successful chief executive of many enterprises; Sarwat Mohiuddin, a Punjabi poetess; and the managing director of the Oxford University Press Pakistan, Ameena Saiyid, OBE were some of them.

Sarwat Mohiuddin narrated how, after doing her matriculation from the Queen Mary College, Lahore, she was married off and when her contemporaries graduated from colleges, she felt that she too had to do something to realise her potential.

So, as she put it, despite being beset with challenges, she did her Bachelors and later her Masters in Punjabi from the University of the Punjab.

She said now her poetry was part of the syllabus in so many universities in the Subcontinent, including Punjabi University, Patiala, India.

However, while talking to The News on various facets of her career, one certainly could never guess that she was a Punjabi, given her really chaste and polished Urdu.

Similarly, Ameena Saiyid – who by now is a globally recognised person in the field of publishing and education, and is one of the very few privileged persons in the Subcontinent who has been honoured with the Order of the British Empire – narrated the challenges she faced at the beginning of her career towards the late 1970s, especially those that she faced when she went on a tour of a province up North, a province that is known to have an ultraconservative value pattern, to promote sales of OUP publications.

The story of her overcoming these challenges was inspiring indeed. Her advice to ladies of the younger generation: “Never throw in the towel”.

Source: The News

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