ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all.

Challenging discrimination and injustice in Pakistan

It was only by chance that I became a humanitarian worker. 

When I was young my father was diagnosed with cancer and we were told we had to raise huge sums of money to pay for his treatment.  For a poor family like ours this was something near to impossible.

It was at this time we came across the Hirrak Development Center (HDC), one of ActionAid’s partner organizations - I had no idea just how much my life was about to change!  I was inspired by HDC’s work and the support they provided to our families like ours. They helped us get support from different government institutions and charities.  I was overjoyed to see men and women working together for the welfare of my community and I expressed my longing to work with them too – before long I was in their team!

In my family, I was the first girl who had decided to be a working woman and my father was not happy with my going out of home to work in office. The social and family pressures I faced were almost too much for me, however what kept me going was the nature and the scope of the work I was involved in.  I learnt that contrary to social practice, women are entitled to basic human rights and I got deeply involved in raising awareness of women’s rights in communities.   I am proud to have been involved in establishing the large scale women’s organization ‘Tareemit Sanjh’. This remarkable organization, of poor community women, leads many campaigns to ensure the fulfillment of their basic human rights - especially women’s rights to health, education, livelihood and land.

During the floods of 2010, I was involved in HDC’s rescue and relief efforts, supported by ActionAid.  My family was also displaced by the floods but rather than evacuate the area I preferred to stay with the flood affected people in the camps.  During those times, we worked day and night to provide relief to the poorest and most vulnerable flood victims. There were many old, ailing, pregnant and lactating women with their children in the camps. I used to spend a lot of time with them listening to their worries and sufferings and it pleased me to find many instances of women benefiting from flood relief and rehabilitation programmes.

I also initiated a campaign to put an end to sexual harassment at the workplace. My younger sister, a teacher by profession, was harassed by local feudal lords and politicians while she was on her way to school. I decided to sue them in the legal courts to set a precedent for other helpless women to raise their voice against violations.  My family was pressured and threatened with serious consequences if they failed to convince me to drop the charges.  But thanks to the support provided by ActionAid my family and I did not succumb to the pressures and I continued with the case. 

It earned me great reputation among the community women I work with and I hope some have taken inspiration from the conviction shown by me and my family.  I hope to be a role model for other girls in my family and community.  I have continued my education alongside my job and now I am a graduate looking forward to beginning an M.A. in Gender Studies!  I thank HDC and ActionAid for their contribution to my life, I understand my rights as a woman in society and I openly challenge all forms of discrimination and injustices shown against women.