The Shadow I grew up in #ProudToBeMyMum

Until this campaign #ProudToBeMyMum, I never thought about my relation with my mother, I just thought it was ever present, ever there and needn’t be talked about; but now that I think I can talk about it for hours, talk about things and minute details that we share.

They say shadows are a negative image but how can they be when while I was growing up I used to follow my mother to fields trying to catch up with her shadow, and she adjusting her pace so to shelter me from the blazing sunlight.

And many years down the lane now that she has moved places for us, adjusted her lifestyle, her likings, and dislikings; sometimes even her relationship with her siblings because ‘I am a mother before any other relation’ I can always trace back my existence to my mother, like its natural, like it’s the very logical thing to do.

I am not claiming to be a tiny part of how amazing she is but I am learning each baby step at a time to mould myself in her image so I can be proud in my heart when I say I am #ProudToBeMyMum. I know that is a pursuit, a life long journey but other than I am thankful to her, I owe my everything to her; from teaching me words, for rendering me a sense to make sense of my speech in days when I was myself not very sure about sounds I was producing.

I owe it to her for training the fighter in me through all those days that life throws at us. I owe it to her for passing on to me this art of story-telling for she knew I needed a companion for days she couldn’t always be near me to comfort me.

I am #ProudTobeMyMum and I know I’ll share stories of our belonging to each other for as long as I live, to my generations, through my words and my life; for there is no me without my mother.


Here is to Strong Women!

I write about silence that plays on my mother’s lips before forming shy and afraid words or silence that crept into creases on my grandmother’s skin and made home there; I write about a silence when that woman stole a glance at me and skin around her eyes gathered in layers of fear of time and people and of surroundings; I write about silence that is not rendered the right space on bodies of its bearers, while it keep looking for other names to adjust around, a silence that digs deeper than their skins and reaches the third dimension of being, that reaches the soul and looks upon us through eager eyes.

And then I realized that Silence when it is associated with women, is not mere silence, it becomes a noise, a tool for change, a symbol of their strength sometimes. Silence is their way of protesting against the fact when they are when they are taken for granted, or when they are not seen for who they are. That is their way of putting forward vital questions like how long can you go without us?

And then there is another set of women, and what looks like a revolution in their acts to others around them, is only common sense. These women in their own simple acts are ambassadors for change,  working for an unpromising future but future shall arrive one day. They are often talked about and called crazy for it is the fashion to talk about them. But here in this issue, they are talking about themselves, how they are playing their role in bringing the change, as future women or for future women.

Faiza Yousaf– NED graduate and post graduate, runs a consultant company helping small businesses (especially Women), executive member of OPEN Pakistan, volunteers for INJAZ Pakistan, and is recently working on a USAID-funded ‘gender equity program’ with Aurat Foundation and IBA. She teaches technology at IU and FAST-NUCES and loves to read and rant on twitter (@FaizaYousuf).


“I run WomenInTechPK, it’s a community for women who are directly or indirectly related to the local technology industry. It’s a Women only group so that women can talk freely about their issues, seek advice and opportunities, find mentors and form collaborations with each other. I have spent seven years in the tech industry and I have seen and experienced all kinds of issues that are very gender specific.  Women usually experience a more hostile working environment and this hostility makes them leave the Tech industry as soon as they get a chance. The ratio of women leaving their careers in tech is very high worldwide and in Pakistan, the situation isn’t great either. My goal is to reach out and include women from all over the country so that we can start an open dialogue about diversification in the workplace and the role of women in Technology Leadership. This will create awareness which in turn can make employers/industry leaders change policies and help their organizations in nourishing a more diversified and inclusive culture.”

Maryam U. Malick– A photographer mommy with a heart of a gypsy. Loves to travel, blog and rant about the daily life struggles of a stay at home/ part time working mom. So if you’re interested to see what she do and what she writes Check her links below


“Well being a stay at home mom of a toddler and working part time as a photographer and blogger, usually, people don’t take your field so seriously or since you work from home they think it’s all la la land for me or for the lot like us. Wallah, it isn’t this easy. No house help whatsoever, demanding work type and equally demanding husband and super clingy baby as he/she is too attached to you as that’s all she interacts with makes all of it really tough.

When I get really worked up, I rant so much on the blog and write everything that’s bothering me. And I love it when I get the overwhelming response from other moms like me that you spoke our heart. We can relate to you and we found a part of us in your piece and you gave us the courage to talk about such personal stuff and gain back our courage. It just makes my day/week (and at times the whole month haha) I don’t think we women or mothers specifically have to do NASA type or scientific type stuff to stand tall among the crowd or to show the empowerment. We are women! That’s enough reason to celebrate and be proud of. No man can have their mind juggle between so many thoughts and emotions and physical and mental roller coaster like we do. We made a little human, that’s our super power and it makes us all super hero.”

Sidra Amin– She is a 22-year-old Mechatronics Undergrad, and serving as Overseer Young Women Writers’ forum, Editor-in-chief of Self-publishing wing at Daastan, Creative writer at Blimp. She loves poetry and some of her work has been published magazines and e-zines across the world and has been featured in PechaKucha’s events in Germany. She runs a book club known as Peshawar book club and has her own Spoken word organization.


“I am devoted to facilitate writers with publishing opportunities. I have been working closely with women in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa to bring them opportunities where they can express themselves, including but not limited to storytelling, article writing, poetry writing. Most of these women have published themselves in magazines and some even have their books published by Daastan now. My focus is on letting women express everything that goes inside their head, without any fears, so they can get to know each other, empathize with each other, and uplift each other. Words change the world, and I am providing women a platform to change this world into a place where opportunities are available to anyone on the basis of their abilities, regardless of their gender.”

Atiya Abbas– She is a transnational feminist working with Girls at Dhabas, a collective that is working to define public space on their own whims and terms. Since her return from the University of Missouri- Columbia, she has been involved with this collective, arranging events across Karachi and Lahore, protesting harassment on the streets, and setting up small tea stalls to engage with the public. In 2016, Girls at Dhabas was featured on BBC World; went onto setting up a Behenchara (female solidarity) Corner at the Women of the World Festival; organized a bike rally to protest street harassment; and conducted multiple workshops and presentations on gender and public space. She has spoken to teenaged girls and young women at Jinnah University and Dawood Public School under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of State and Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network. Keeping up a dialogue on gender, feminism and public space is of immense importance to her and she continues to encourage dialogue about these initiatives.

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“I am playing my part by unlearning everything the patriarchy wants me to be. That means: not seeing women as the enemy but the system that wants to pit us against each other, recognizing when people are acting out of privilege and being aware of my own when approaching others. Most of all, through working with Girls at Dhabas, I want to try and convey to people that there are issues worth fighting and standing up for, even if it is your right to have a cup of tea.”



Irum Zahra– she runs a publishing house named ‘Beyond Sanity Publishing’ and has a poetry collection titled ‘Psychaotic’.



“It is difficult to survive in a world made for men, but I have a strong will and I see myself building a platform that will not only help women with their creative side, but will also enhance the image of Pakistan in the world.




Andleeb Tariq– an Artist with a degree in Clinical Psychology.


“I am trying to tell the world that my degree doesn’t define who I am. I can have a degree in Psychology and still become a full-time Artist. I paint women who are strong and powerful. My paintings give the message of hope to the women around; we as women have the power to make a difference and we can endure much more than we think we can!”



Saba Zain– She is doing Ms in literature in linguistics from Numl and teaches at the city school working as a freelancer with Al Rasub and Indus, Karachi.



“I am trying to break societal taboos by the themes of my short stories which always surround existential crises and negation of free will in our society not only my short stories but by my wall too. And yes I am willing to endure any sort of criticism for that.”

Life in a box or boxed life??

The title might seem like a paradox but imagine someone living a paradoxical life, a paradox devoid of meanings, or meanings if there are any denoting only remoteness, or barrenness at other times.

No one wants to talk about the life that women live, and if someone in some cases eventually learns to talk about it, they naturally get offensive, they are naturally on guard as if they have a sacred oath to defend, a duty to teach lesson, a responsibility to amend the majority portion of their society.

Or if a woman is seen talking about her rights, or about lives of her fellow women she is instantly rendered the title of foolish and impractical and anti-men. No one wants to see the other side of the picture where this hatred towards men and society, in general, is taught in a very mechanical way.

It is not fair to call it foolish abruptly for no women was born foolish, they were taught this hatred even if its burden was sometimes too much to carry for themselves. Very early in their childhood when they are thought as less human because they were born a girl, not out of choice, lays foundations for the very easily called ‘foolish behaviour’. They growing up seeing their brothers or other men around cherished and in their little minds, they try to make sense of where did they go wrong to deserve this. From that age, they somehow learn to create a fantasy world for themselves, where they keep telling themselves that someday it is going to be okay, that someday they’ll be as special to someone as their brothers and uncles and husbands and everyone from the opposite gender is.

Time goes on and every time they are made to feel vulnerable, every time they are told that their dreams have less value for they are born in a less privileged group, or when one day they are told that they are not allowed to dream anymore because they have just crossed a boundary in age after which they can’t be human anymore.

From now on they will be enrolled in a new course, a course where they’ll be taught to live for another gender serving egos, first in their own house, then in another house when someone will buy their life rights for a petty amount.

In all such times, these girls, these to be women, keep their flickering fantasy alive, they still – deep in their hearts- believe this world to be wrong and their fantasy world where they’ll be treated human to be right. They keep on playing this game, bargaining for little gains in life- some of these acts are named foolish later on.

But then someday their life, their picture of one right world, their fantasy, their keeper of dreams is shattered, and it keeps deteriorating every time a younger brother scolds them or tells them what is right and how they should be following his orders, every time a husband beats them just because they didn’t fulfill the certain idea of right in his mind, every time she looks at things taking shape, reality shaping itself into a gruesome object, opening as an undefined extract idea where a girl is by default into a box; her life merely defined by the confines.

And their dreams sway along with the swaying opinions of society. Dreams and emotions sway as they are shifted from one box to another, each time giving away a part of themselves.

How do you then think that surviving under the fantasy blanket, which is exploited and tossed and turned, is foolish when you helped them shape them all the while.