Zoya Ishaq

Friday, September 8, 2017

I’m the third girl child born to a very typical middle class family of Pakistan. Having said that, it hasn’t been easy, neither for my parents nor for us, daughters. Time and again, I have had to break stereotypes and have accomplished many ‘firsts’ in my family, gender has been an interesting aspect of my life.

I hold an MPhil degree in Business Administration (Marketing & Brand Management) from Kinnaird College and currently, I am the Founder and Director of ‘SHE’, a non-profit women empowerment campaign that celebrates womanhood in Pakistan.

Through ‘SHE’, I have managed to create a space which is accepting, not judging others is the key norm, and aiming high is always the number one priority.

As a woman, I believe that the only competition one faces is with oneself and thus, I put all my energy into creating new benchmarks, setting new trends and experiencing new horizons.

I believe that once your family is on board, they become the best support system in achieving your goals.
Luckily, my parents despite being my biggest critiques remained my biggest supporters also, especially my mother. So with time, what people thought or said started becoming inaudible, I remained focused on the outcome of what I truly wanted to do.

Never in my life, did I think I will be working in the field of women empowerment, business had always been my passion and when I was nominated for the prestigious professional exchange ‘International Visitors Leadership Program’ by the US State Department in 2014, I was overjoyed.

Having completed my studies, I was convinced that I had achieved what I wanted, till I landed in America.

The misconceptions there, about women empowerment in Pakistan, really touched my heart and sparked quite a few emotions. I came back home and started seeing things in a different light, negativity tends to sell more, from news to charity work and to break free from the negatives, I started ‘She’ to celebrate the positive role of women in Pakistan.

I brought together women from all walks of life, to hold discussions and change the narrative of women empowerment in Pakistan by motivating and inspiring other women through their achievements. Currently, this concept is trapped in two extremes; negative sufferings of the destitute and tormented women, and the complete opposite where empowerment only means ‘do what you want to do!’

To this end, I conduct diverse training workshops and events to impart the mission of empowering women and being the change we wish to see in the world. Throughout this journey, I have learned a lot, I have found myself growing more confident about this path. ‘She’, which is now Pakistan’s first and only sorority, has my heart and soul.

Be prepared for everything! Sometimes things aren’t meant to be what you want them to be, but never feel dejected by circumstances, people or time as everything is temporary and whatever happens, happens for the best. – Zoya Ishaq, Director at SHE.