05 - 11 Mar, 2016
Amber Wajid Roshaneh Zafar Nazneen Tariq

From bringing home accolades to having the women protection bill passed, Pakistani women have achieved some great new heights this year. MAG catches up with some accomplished ladies to reveal their struggles and successes.

1. What/who do you accredit your success to so far?
2. What hurdles have you had to face, and how have you overcome them?
3. How do you see the status of women on domestic and professional fronts?
4. What do you think can be done to help them out?
5. Any advice/message for women out there?

Amber Wajid
She requires no introduction. She was one of the first morning show hosts who paved way for all the others after her. Equally popular among her peers and the masses for remaining her humble self, Amber is also a beautician as evident by her killer looks that show no sign of ageing!
1. There is no particular person that I would hold responsible for my success. I think a great amount of luck went into making me what I am today, and of course I have worked so hard for it too. I thank people for their love and appreciation.
2. Back then, I had no idea what I was doing. I was very young and naïve, and lacked a certain street smartness required to enter any profession. I had almost no guidance but achieved a lot only through my hard work. I feel like not knowing much was my strength as well, as that helped me ignore a lot of things and just focus on my work.
3. It was crazy back then, but today is a fantastic time to be working. Especially in media, there are a lot more opportunities and more money, better projects and people have become more open-minded too.
4. First of all, girls should have the talent and confidence. They should be very strong and have faith in Allah. They can't let anything hold them back. They will face difficulties but will also be shown a way out. If you are good to people, nothing bad will happen to you. Life is a challenge that you have to face. They must remember that shortcuts will always give them temporary pleasures. Only the long, hard way will lead them to something long lasting. All the success that I have achieved so far has been gradual. So they just have to be slow and steady.
5. It is very important for women to be financially independent. Money is very important and that can help one become strong and self-dependent. It will give you the security needed, whether you are married or not. Everyone has some talent within, they should work towards enhancing it.

Roshaneh Zafar
Founder of Kashf Foundation which was established in 1996 and specialises in women focused microfinance, Roshaneh Zafar is a strong believer of the economic empowerment of women. She has been able to provide loans and life insurance to low-income individuals worth millions, train women in financial literacy, and graduate thousands of women micro-entrepreneurs through her foundation.
1. When I set up the foundation things were very different, microfinance itself was a new concept. People told me poor people are not credit-worthy, I won't find poor women willing to set up businesses, and that the programme will not be successful. But through the support of my mentors, especially Dr. Muhammad Yunus and my father, a great team of like-minded individuals, and an unwavering commitment to the mission of empowering women, we were able to prove all the nay-sayers wrong.
2. I feel that everyone working towards any purpose has to face obstacles and hardships along the way - with that said, I feel that for women in Pakistan the biggest issue is the lack of effective support systems and mentoring to overcome and address the hurdles. Personally speaking, I have been very lucky in this regard, being born in a family that treated me on equal grounds like my brother, gender has not been an obstacle from my early years till today.
3. Progress has been made over the past decade in terms of visibility and recognition of the role of women both in the economy and society as a whole. However, there is a need to focus on improving policies and practices within organisations that not only encourage but retain female staff, while the notion of diversified management needs to be better understood. Furthermore, young women need to be counselled in terms of career choices. At the same time, there is no doubt that the role women play in the informal micro sector is huge, and through access to finance and appropriate business trainings, many women can become active contributors to family income which makes them twice as likely to send their children to school.
4. In order to sustain the impact of women's economic role, it is very important to ensure that the access of girls and women to resources improves and is equitable. For example, educating young girls is a primary need, as it not only transforms the choices they make but also provides them with future growth opportunities. By ensuring that women have access to well designed financial services, credit, savings and insurance, one of the key barriers they face in becoming effective business managers can be overcome.

Nazneen Tariq
A fashion designer active since the '80s, she is one lively woman who shows no signs of slowing down. This wonder woman is a proud grandmother and fond of many things including writing which has gotten her the best article award from Saudi Gazette.
1. Firstly, I would give full credit to my Creator. My parents have played an important role in making me what I am today, especially my dad who always told me that I am very strong, so I grew up believing that. But most importantly, it is my husband who always believed in me, encouraged me and pushed me to do everything that I wanted. The saying goes 'behind every successful man is a woman', but I am proud to say that for me, it is my dad and my husband.
2. I have been working since 1981 when very few women were business-minded. I was very young back then, so my male colleagues wouldn't take me seriously. By His grace, I never felt inadequate or was not given any serious kind of trouble rather I feel like being a woman in our country is an asset because people respect us. I feel like both the genders face hurdles and it is just up to us how we deal with them.
3. Future of women looks great. We have conquered Mount Everest, governed the country, won an Oscar and what not. I never want to see women not strong enough to handle anything in life. If we want something, and are determined, we will be invincible. Even a maid who cleans a house is successful in my eyes because she is able to put bread on her table. We build the future ourselves, so we are on the right track I wish all the women great success.
4. I feel like women who are educated know how to handle everything in their lives. So the ones who are should help the ones who aren't, this is only how our country will flourish. Like the founder of our nation said, women are the most important pillars for progress, and seeing our women progress in diverse fields makes me a very proud Pakistani.
5. Never underestimate your power and potential and never give up just because you are a woman. Have a dream, a motive and go for it; roads will just open up themselves. It is sheer determination on your part that will help you attain your goal.

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