We spur transformative impact

By providing scholarships and personal support for university education, the Spark of Hope Foundation empowers bright young women from the Global South, especially from regions that are remote or in turmoil, to champion transformation.

We enable outsize impact by women leaders

An inclusive and equitable quality education reduces gender-based disparity. With university education, each Spark of Hope alumna is already playing a leadership role by impacting thousands of lives as doctors, engineers, journalists, lawyers, managers, scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, and teachers.

Key Facts

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IN S.T.E.M. FIELDS
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MASTER’S LEVEL
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PHD STUDENTS

Alumnae Making An Impact

Our scholars bring a wide diversity of perspectives, hopes and backgrounds

Sana Iqbal, Pakistan
Sana Iqbal, PakistanPhD, Ethnic, Cultural Minority and Gender Studies
Coventry University, United Kingdom
Fatema Hassanali, Kenya
Fatema Hassanali, KenyaMBChB
University of Birmingham, United Kingdom
Stella Nalwoga, Uganda
Stella Nalwoga, UgandaMAS, International Law and Economics
WTI, University of Bern, Switzerland

I had a dream to pursue my Ph.D. and advance interdisciplinary research in the field of gender studies. I’m interested in evidence-based policy research which can improve the social and economic lives of communities through fostering equity, inclusion and diversity.

My education has helped increase my ability to work on feminist research across different disciplines and projects, which in turn has allowed me to contribute to the work influencing advocacy and policymaking for gender equity. I have proposed innovative ways of integrating socio-economic development goals in urban transport planning for reducing poverty and building inclusive cities.

I’m currently a post-doctoral research fellow at the South Asian Studies Unit, Institute of Ismaili Studies, in London. My research focuses on female-centred rituals among the mystical and esoteric traditions from South Asia. I am studying the experiences and voices of female devotees at Sufi shrines in Pakistan, with a particular focus on using a feminist lens to understand how they assert their gendered agency through these rituals and practices. The study is based on my recent fieldwork in Punjab, where I also had an opportunity to visit local archives and libraries and benefit from primary sources in Urdu.

In ten years, I want to be recognized as a leading feminist scholar from Pakistan and I want to have published a few books. I would like to build people’s capacity to conduct community-led research embedded in feminist principles. This would mean encouraging more participatory and bottom-up research that is centred on bringing the voices of people to the forefront. I wish to continue my journey and keep working on research that can influence the lives of women around the world. I would also like to connect with other women who are working as research professionals.

Medicine is something I wanted to do from a young age: I envisioned being a doctor and helping people with their healthcare. I always found it to be a fascinating career, and so it was a goal towards which I worked.

This scholarship made it possible for me to come to the UK to pursue this degree. Medicine is a long degree and an expensive one: it would have been very difficult for me and my parents to afford it had we not had support from The Spark of Hope Foundation.

To be able to learn at one of the best healthcare institutions in the UK is going to enable me to develop my own clinical practice, my own communication, and enhance my ability to be the best doctor I can be. I hope to give back to the community through my profession and perform my role as a physician to the best of my ability.

My education gave me exposure to a whole new country, a whole new healthcare system, a whole new course, a different lifestyle in the UK, and seeing how healthcare works over here has made me aware of the challenges we face in Kenya and how different it is. In an ideal world you would want things to be like they are here in the UK, but there are resource limitations in Kenya, which means that isn’t always possible. Hopefully, I can take some transferable skills and better my practice, improve myself and contribute to the betterment of society.

I want to be a role model for girls in Kenya by showing them that I can do it, and if I can do it then hopefully that inspires them to do it. I want them to realize they too can achieve something, and whatever career they choose, if they work hard, they can go forward and be the best they can.

My goal in pursuing my Master’s degree was to become an international trade and investment policy expert. My main interest is in private sector development for sustainable business growth, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. I want to focus on supporting governments to make policies conducive for harnessing the benefits of digital trade, especially e-commerce.

My education has helped my whole family, as I now have more options in terms of what I’m able to do in society: I’m not just confined to employment as a lawyer. I have also developed the skills necessary to help people through civil society organizations and through advocacy work, and I have a better understanding of the needs of communities.

After completing my Master’s, I undertook a traineeship in Brussels for a year, which ended in September 2022. I’m now starting out as an independent consultant, and have been networking and submitting consulting proposals.

I was nominated to the advisory board of the newly-launched Legal Issues in Technology, the flagship journal for the International University of East Africa in Uganda. The publication aims to focus on technology law and create a body of knowledge specific to Africa.

I believe a mindset shift is necessary for the continent: I envision an Africa that thinks differently of itself in terms of development, an Africa that is able to take on the reigns of development. I hope to relate what I’ve learned back to the African context, and adapt it for the African environment.

In ten years, my goal is to have an established practice and be a well-recognized policy expert, focusing on Africa. I want to be a role model and I believe in giving back and empowering other like-minded young women from different communities to reach their goals.

Saleema Bano, Pakistan
Saleema Bano, PakistanMPhil, Education
AKU Institute for Educational Development, Pakistan
Lalbegim Boronieva, Tajikistan
Lalbegim Boronieva, TajikistanBBA, Business Administration
Trent University, Canada
Sadaf Sutaria, Pakistan
Sadaf Sutaria, PakistanBSc, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Central Asia, Tajikistan

I was raised in a lower-class family in the northern areas of Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan. I received a Master’s degree from Karakoram International University and worked as a pre-primary teacher for three years at Aga Khan Education Service, Pakistan. During my professional journey, I observed and experienced issues related to gender, low socioeconomic status, out-of-school children and educational challenges in various schools in Hunza. I also became concerned about teachers’ professional development, which is currently a major issue in Pakistan.

I realized that I could not simply watch these issues persist—I wanted to be part of the solution. This motivated me to enroll in the MPhil program at AKU-IED, so I could gain further insight into the education system and ways to improve it. My research focus is on pedagogy and the professional development of teachers in schools.

I initially had to defer my studies at AKU-IED, something I had dreamed of since my secondary education, so that I could financially support my sister who was studying. I still found it difficult to manage my finances, but I’m thankful that the Spark of Hope Foundation scholarship has helped alleviate part of the financial burden.

After the completion of my MPhil, my career priorities will be working with students from low socioeconomic areas and out-of-school children by introducing non-formal school initiatives. Moreover, I want to promote educational change in rural Pakistan by increasing awareness of professional development practices in schools to eliminate learning barriers such as rote memorization.

I want to promote a conducive learning environment in schools through teachers so that I can witness the holistic development of students. As there are limited resources, I want to be helpful to my community as an educator as well as a researcher. I hope to be an inspiration for students and teachers and support the holistic professional development of teachers as well as students in Gilgit Baltistan.

Education has always been an important part of my life and I am grateful and proud to receive the SoHF scholarship. I always wanted to go to university abroad and use that opportunity as a way to expand my horizons, and experience the beauty of a learning-driven environment.

I believe as we get older we go through different “career phases”. Growing up, I wanted to become a diplomat and study International Relations, however, when I received a scholarship to come to Canada and study in grades 11 and 12, I developed an interest in the business world. I took business courses in high school and decided that I wanted to pursue a career related to that field. I not only learned the fundamentals of business, but also how to lead and motivate people, as well as how to communicate effectively, think critically and take risks. I chose to specialize in Marketing and Consumer Culture since it has everything I like: creativity, leadership, risk-taking, project development and more.

Every girl deserves to have access to education. It has always been an issue in the developing world, and I want to change that. It’s a big problem in Tajikistan, specifically in remote areas. I am working hard to be able to have financial resources to help create educational opportunities for girls back home. It is a dream of mine to be able to help as many girls as I can so that they become future leaders. I want to motivate the girls to pursue their educational dreams and encourage them to not be afraid to pursue degrees in business and S.T.E.M. fields.

My undergraduate experience provided me with theory and skills related to natural sciences, environmental analysis, and environmental governance but most importantly gave me a new lens to view the world around me. It enabled me to view environmental problems from the perspectives of the local community and combine their traditional knowledge with scientific knowledge to develop solutions.

I used this lens in my work as a Tuna Policy Officer for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Mozambique), where I used research and advocacy to support WWF’s efforts to manage tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean and facilitate regional projects in the South West Indian Ocean countries.

In Fall 2022, I began my Master of Environmental Management, with a concentration in Environmental Economics & Policy, at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. I hope to use my education and experiences to develop and advocate for evidence-base policies in the marine realm that strike a balance between socio-economic benefits and environmental protection. I look forward to amplifying the voices of vulnerable communities through my work and using my education to help create a sustainable world.

Our uniqueness

  • Our focus on developing women leaders in order to address pervasive gender-based inequity.

  • Our emphasis on the Global South, especially areas of conflict or those that are under-served.

  • The financial support we leverage from our on-ground partners and university affiliations, generally on a 1:6 ratio.
  • Our strong on-ground assistance for selection, screening and supporting students.

  • Scholarships that are coupled with deep personal support from pre-university through university and beyond.

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