The Australia Awards Women in Leadership Network in Pakistan is part of a wider network of Australia Awards alumnae in South and West Asia who are committed to maintain linkages with Australia and actively promote and support the empowerment of women.
Learn about the core members of the Australia Awards Women in Leadership Network in Pakistan, including who inspires them, the work they do, and what change they hope to help influence in Pakistan.
‘I want to work on poverty reduction, and I aspire to develop an accountability mechanism to govern non-state actors involved in micro-financing’
My greatest inspiration is my eldest sister, who made me what I am today. She refused to give up on me and encouraged me to overcome all obstacles.
I want to work on poverty reduction, and I aspire to develop an accountability mechanism to govern non-state actors involved in micro-financing. Personally, I believe inclusion means acceptance on all levels, as an independent and significant part of economic growth.
I love travelling and reading, and I am interested in saving and investment ventures. I am happily single and love my freedom.
Connect with Aqsa on LinkedIn here
‘I am passionate about education for girls, marginalised communities, minorities, and people living in harsh and difficult environments’
Maria Montessori, for her vision and contribution in the field of teacher education.
Malala Yousafzai, for her resilience to fight for education, especially education for girls.
Samina Baig and Muniba Mazari, for their contribution towards challenging taboos and stereotypes.
Dr Ruth Pfau, for her lifelong services to humanity.
Asma Jahangir, for her contributions to social justice.
I want to improve access to equitable quality education in Pakistan. I am committed to working towards creating a peaceful and just society, promoting acceptance of diversity, and improving social cohesion. Other changes I want to drive are empowerment of women, poverty reduction, and improved access to water.
I am a happily married mother of a seven-year-old daughter. I am passionate about education, especially education for girls, marginalised communities, minorities, and people living in harsh and difficult environments.
Connect with Alima on LinkedIn here
Benazir Bhutto, Asma Jahangir and Margaret Thatcher, in terms of politics, governance and human rights.
Bano Qudsia and Abida Parveen, for their immense respective contributions to Urdu literature, spiritualism, and Sufi Music.
Bilquis Edhi and Dr Ruth Pfau, for their services to humanity.
I want to drive change in Pakistan to ensure peaceful co-existence of all people, to educate and empower women, and to motivate youth to serve the community.
As the first ever woman Superintendent of Police (Operation) in Karachi, I work towards uplifting underprivileged and marginalised communities, educating youth to join the government and training subordinates on sensitisation of pro-women legislation in Sindh. I am a voracious reader, and happily single.
Connect with Shahla on LinkedIn here
Fouzia Saeed, for her courageous approach and contribution as a women’s rights activist.
Gender equality and inclusiveness are the changes I want to drive in Pakistan.
I am a gender and development professional with more than ten years of experience with international organisations in Pakistan and overseas. I am married and a mother of two—a girl and a boy. Originally from Chitral, I currently live in Islamabad.
Connect with Dilshad on LinkedIn here
I want to spur changes in economic development and contribute towards creating a tech-savvy public sector. The changes I want to drive in Pakistan include green energy, trade policy reforms and implementation, and secure borders.
I was born and raised in Quetta, in a family where education was of prime importance. I am an avid reader and usually keep myself surrounded by books. I also coach tennis during my free time, and I am currently learning to play the guitar. My passion is to work on water and sanitation issues in Pakistan and create awareness on green energy projects, especially in the construction industry for high-performance building architecture and spatial designing.
Connect with Misbah on LinkedIn here
‘Changes I want to drive in Pakistan include peaceful co-existence among all the sects (including women, youth and minorities)’
Benazir Bhutto, Asma Jahangir, Perween Rehman and Sabeen Mahmud, in terms of Leadership, Women Empowerment, Politics, Governance and Human Rights.
Bano Qudsia and Kishwar Naheed, for their immense contributions in Urdu literature.
Mother Teresa and Bilquis Edhi, for their services to humanity.
The changes I want to drive in Pakistan include poverty reduction through local governance, and peaceful co-existence among all the sects (including women, youth and minorities) through peace and social harmony.
I like to volunteer my time for women’s rights and exploring areas where I can listen to and help marginalised women. I have travelled and lived in Mexico, China, USA, UK and Australia, and I love the freedom of being single. I am the fourth out of six siblings, and I currently live with my mother. I want to write my autobiography one day.
Connect with Isma on LinkedIn here
‘Workspaces that are more inclusive for women in Pakistan and equal rights and privileges for girls at the grassroots level are among the changes I want to drive in Pakistan’
I want to encourage workspaces that are more inclusive of women. I also want to drive change in Pakistan to ensure that there are equal rights to education and all other privileges of life for girls at the grassroots level. I also want to create awareness and sensitisation of mental health issues such as ADHD, autism, OCD, PSD, and depression.
I am a mother of two bright and energetic boys. I believe in hard work, resilience and perseverance, and I live by the quote, ‘Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.’
Connect with Javaria on LinkedIn here
‘I am inspired by my sisters and friends who reinvented themselves with an incredible amount of strength and dignity once they realised they deserve better’
My mother, who inspires in me the virtues of respect, tolerance and perseverance.
My sisters and friends who reinvented themselves with an incredible amount of strength and dignity once they realised they deserve better.
The fearless women who redefined career options for girls in Pakistan, and the women in the most underprivileged areas of the country who gave up their own dreams but still aspire to achieve a better future for their children.
The changes I want to drive in Pakistan include diversity education and training to promote tolerance and social equity, social engagement initiatives for senior citizens, and environmental sustainability.
I am an energetic, athletic and optimistic person. I am a guilt-free foodie and an avid reader.
Connect with Khuzama on LinkedIn here
‘Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to have climbed Mount Everest, is one of my biggest inspirations—to me she is a true reflection of strength, determination and hard work’
Samina Baig is to me a true reflection of strength, determination and hard work. She is the first Pakistani woman (of the three) to have climbed Mount Everest and first Pakistani woman to have climbed the Seven Summits (the highest mountains of each of the seven continents).
Dr Ruth Pfau, for her selfless devotion to helping leprosy patients in Pakistan.
The changes I want to drive in Pakistan include stability, representation of citizens’ needs in public policies, improved governance, poverty reduction, women’s empowerment, and acceptance of plurality and diversity.
I am a firm believer in the saying ‘live and let live’. I aspire to promote acceptance of diversity. My passion is travelling and exploring other cultures. I also like photography and am happy to share the world as I see it with a wider audience. I am now learning to play the flute and hoping to master some tunes soon.
Connect with Lubna on LinkedIn here
'I want to improve the quality of education in Pakistan and ensure children across the country have access to reading material and libraries'
Basarat Kazim, because she truly is a woman of substance. For her strength, resolve and humility—her sheer grace, resilience and commitment to principles.
My mother, for her strength, courage, and unwavering resolve and gratitude.
Amina Saeed, for her humility and the ability to listen and engage—her hard work and strength.
I want to improve the quality of education, ensure that all children in Pakistan have access to reading material and libraries, and promote inclusion and diversity.
I am a teacher, storyteller, teacher trainer and development sector idealist. I am a self-proclaimed philosopher, a hopeless twitter addict and an activist at heart! I enjoy reading, cooking and doodling. As an aspiring illustrator, my recent obsessions are calligraphy and hand lettering.
Connect with Ayesha on LinkedIn here
I want to see Pakistan as an economically prosperous country. With my personal efforts, I want to create a revolutionary change in the field of Science and Technology in Pakistan.
My professional and personal desire is to win a Nobel Prize one day. I am single and I currently live with my parents.
Connect with Rabia on LinkedIn here
‘My mother, who went back to complete her education after bringing up five children, is a true inspiration to me’
Bilquis Edhi, for her role as a social worker, wife and mother.
My mother, who went back to complete her education after bringing up five children.
I want to see a Pakistan with equal opportunities; where women have the right to make their own choices—a land full of trees, music and smiles.
I joined the civil service after graduation. Since then I have acquired three degrees and, more importantly, I have given birth to three princesses. I enjoy reading books and growing plants, and my true love is travelling.
Connect with Raheela on LinkedIn here
Benazir Bhutto, Asma Jahangir and Margaret Thatcher, in terms of politics, governance and human rights.
Bano Qudsia and Abida Parveen, for their immense respective contributions to Urdu literature, spiritualism and Sufi Music.
Bilquis Edhi and Dr Ruth Pfau, for their services to humanity.
Educating and empowering women is one of the changes that I want to drive in Pakistan. I also believe in peaceful co-existence and poverty reduction, and working towards a clean and green environment.
A voracious reader, I work towards uplifting underprivileged and marginalised communities. I was instrumental in setting up free schools for street children in Peshawar. I also helped establish skill development centres in Mardan and Swabi Districts where women learn stitching/tailoring and embroidery, as well as literacy and numeracy, grooming skills, and social ethics, without a fee. Third-born of six siblings, I am happily single, and currently live with my parents, two brothers and a niece.
Connect with Bushra on LinkedIn here
‘I dream of and work towards a Pakistan where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and everyone has fundamental rights’
Dr Sania Nishtar, for her contribution to Public Health.
Dr Najma Sultana, my ex-Director – Technical.
As part of my organisation, we dream of and work towards having a Pakistan where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe; a place where everyone has fundamental rights. We work for the provision of reproductive health services, especially family planning. We also train human resources for the provision of these services. I also dream of a Pakistan that has a fully-fledged Health Insurance System.
I am a happily married mother of three.
Begum Ra'ana Liaquat Ali Khan, for her down-to-earth attitude.
Fatima Jinnah, for her sacrifices.
Hazrat Khadija, for her successes in business.
Bilquis Edhi, for her dedication and commitment.
Dr Ruth Pfau, for her sacrifices towards a social cause.
I would like to one day see a Pakistan where all people are aware of their rights and duties and practise these honestly; a country where Pakistani people are peaceful, honest and civilised in all their actions and no one suffers from any form of deprivation; a country where people are prosperous and self-reliant. I want to drive these changes in Pakistan, and I hope that through all our hard work one day we can achieve these changes.
I work towards the rehabilitation and inclusion of people with disability, women survivors of violence and very poor marginalised people of Pakistan. My work also includes immunisation of children and pregnant women living in hard-to-reach areas in the country. I am happily single and currently live with parents, while also looking after the education and upbringing of two of my nephews. I love natural beauty, organic food, walking and hiking.
Connect with Lubna on LinkedIn here
I find myself truly inspired by women who help me uncover the truth about myself and my purpose in life. Women who have overcome extraordinary challenges—including my mother, aunt, friends and colleagues—continue to inspire and encourage me to do better and to learn from their experiences.
I am also smitten by Oprah Winfrey and her journey from complete obscurity to a larger-than-life phenomenon.
I want to make a difference in Pakistan through inclusive and gender-driven economic growth through international trade and human capital development.
I am the eldest of four children, and thrive in building close relationships with people I love and admire. I successfully completed the Civil Superior Services Examination in 2008 and was allocated the Commerce and Trade Group under the Ministry of Commerce. I possess a great work ethic, which I inherited from my father. I take pride in giving my best to anything I undertake. I have been happily married to the love of my life since 2008 and am a mother of two gorgeous little boys. I find solace in reading and those who know me say I am a great cook.
Connect with Asmma on LinkedIn here
‘My heroines are the women who challenge and fight against the status quo and patriarchy, even with small actions’
My heroines are the women who challenge and fight against the status quo and patriarchy at local, national and international levels, even with small actions.
I want to drive change towards creating a peaceful and democratic Pakistan with freedom of speech and human rights for all.
I am from a rural part of the Sindh province and have travelled across Pakistan. I am keen to learn about other cultures and societies and have worked with marginalised communities. I am the mother of an intelligent and sensitive son and enjoy the company of my family and friends. My passions are reading and writing.
Connect with Rehana on LinkedIn here
‘Among my inspirations are Khawar Mumtaz and Fouzia Saeed—the Pakistani women’s rights activists who helped implement women’s empowerment laws and legislation at a national level’
Benazir Bhutto, Angela Merkel and Irina Bokova, for being strong, intelligent and influential women in politics, good governance and science.
Khawar Mumtaz and Fouzia Saeed, as Pakistani women’s rights activists and for their roles in implementing women’s empowerment laws and legislation at a national level.
Zero hunger in Pakistan, empowerment of rural women, and poverty alleviation are among the changes I want to drive. I also work towards creating a peaceful and sustainable environment in terms of climate change and disaster risk management.
I work against workplace harassment and am a member of the Women Anti-Harassment Committee of the Institute at district and provincial levels. I have also been involved in capacity building and empowerment of rural communities (women) for different agricultural practices. In addition, I have also worked in capacity building of agriculture professionals and farmers, and have been a focal person in agriculture-related projects.
I am the fourth of six siblings and am single and independent. I love to spend time with plants and growing vegetables, and am fond of travelling and scientific reading.
Connect with Riffat on LinkedIn here
I am inspired by women like my teachers, sister and mother
I am passionate about developing ethical and genuine guidance and counselling in the education sector in Pakistan. I firmly believe that diversity is the key to professional and personal development.
I have 18 years of professional experience overall, which includes working with Ali Institute of Education, Beaconhouse School System, Bahauddin Zakariya University, British Council and Nestle. I played an instrumental role in providing strength, support, direction and assistance to enhance and improve the overall performance of these organisations. My academic background is in English Literature, Business Management and Counselling. I have extensively travelled the world. I am confident that a leader can achieve anything with the support of a talented and dedicated team.
Connect with Sabeeh on LinkedIn here
The one name that comes to my mind is Dr Ruth Pfau. I have only met her once in my life. It amazes me that she devoted more than 50 years of her life to fight against leprosy in Pakistan. She has helped people irrespective of nationality, religion etc. It is not easy to leave one’s personal life to help others, which is why she is also famously known as Pakistan’s Mother Teresa.
I hope that poverty and terrorism end in Pakistan so that peace reigns supreme. I also hope we all learn to respect each other’s viewpoint, even if it differs from our own opinion. I dream of a Pakistan where it is acceptable to have dissenting opinions and where freedom of speech is a right of every citizen.
Happily married since 2010, I am the mother of two beautiful boys. My hobbies include watching TV and listening to music. I also love travelling and exploring new places.
Connect with Saman on LinkedIn here
‘Women I met in Gilgit who were independent in their own way despite being subject to socio-cultural constructs were the ones who inspired me the most in life’
The women I had the chance to interact and live with in Gilgit for a period of nearly two and half years are my biggest inspiration. Despite being subject to socio-cultural constructs, they were independent in their own way. The vigour with which the mothers spoke about their desire for children—especially girls—to be educated showed how enlightened their minds were. The little chats I had with these women demonstrated how progressive they are in their thinking. Further to this, the girls I taught were full of a rebellious spirit, not a destructive one, but one that showed that they could excel even with the patriarchal norms set by the society. Even today, the memories of these women serve as an inspiration to me.
Educational reforms with a focus on school leadership and student and teacher well-being are among the changes I want to drive in Pakistan. I believe that inclusivity in education, 21st century learning skills, raising teacher value and bridging the gap between public and private sectors are vital in taking Pakistan forward.
I love travelling, writing and photography. I am single and I currently live with my parents.
Connect with Asma on LinkedIn here
Hazrat Khadija, for her courage and leadership.
Helen Keller, Bilquis Edhi and Dr Ruth Pfau, for their services to humanity.
Benazir Bhutto and Asma Jahangir, in terms of politics and human rights.
Abida Parveen, for her contributions to Sufi music.
Marie Curie, for her pioneering research on radioactivity and being the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.
I wish to make a difference in Pakistan by reducing poverty through education and assisting in creating educated and empowered women in the country. Examination and assessment reforms and curriculum and textbook reforms are also areas that I want to focus on to drive change for a better Pakistan.
I founded the ‘Science Association of Pakistan’, a voluntary and not-for-profit professional association to promote science education. I also developed the first Mobile Science and Technology Laboratory in Pakistan to promote science education in rural areas and at grassroots level. I am happily married and have a supportive mother, husband, and two young intelligent and independent boys studying at undergraduate level. I am a good cook, I write science textbooks for the masses, and I enjoy teaching sciences and supporting youth to acquire international scholarships and opportunities.
Connect with Unaeza on LinkedIn here
Benazir Bhutto, Indira Gandhi and Angela Merkel, for governance, politics and women’s empowerment.
Mother Teresa and Dr Ruth Pfau, for their services for humanity.
Helen Keller, for her immense contributions for people with disability.
Rosa Parks, for her civil rights activism.
I work in the field of Technical and Vocational Education for underprivileged and marginalised communities of Sindh. I am a happy person who loves reading and motivating others, a feminist, a traveller, a positive-thinker, a moderator and a speaker. I am currently not married.
I want to drive change in gender equality, as well as work towards a peaceful and poverty-free Pakistan. I want to see a Pakistan that provides equal opportunities and justice for all.
Connect with Waheeda on LinkedIn here
I have always been inspired by thoughts, ideas and words and definitely by people who use all these to enhance their personalities. Hence, I am the biggest admirer of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (a Nigerian writer) and Oprah Winfrey.
Education reforms, gender and class equality, student well-being and environmental protection are the changes I want to drive in Pakistan.
I am happily married to a person who believes more in my freedom than I do myself. I am the mother of two amazing boys: a musician and a cricketer in the making. I have two brothers but I never missed having a sister, as my brothers are my best friends. I love nature, travelling, hiking, books, music, long drives, iPhone photography, meeting new people, art and literature.
I started my educational journey from Presentation Convent, Rawalpindi. A Master in Fine Arts inspired me to paint and exhibit; however, that creativity was soon transformed into an indescribable yearning to empower the less privileged. Each child has equal rights to education and happiness regardless of their status or race or religion. This dream led me to complete my Master in Educational Management and Leadership from the University of Melbourne, Australia, made possible through an Australia Awards Scholarship.
Connect with Faiza on LinkedIn here
Australia Awards are prestigious international Scholarships, Fellowships and Short Courses funded by the Australian Government.
Australia Awards Scholarships aim to contribute to the long-term development needs of Australia's partner countries in line with bilateral and regional agreements.