Usra Shaukat | Pakistan | BA | Asian University for Women, Bangladesh

Usra is a bright and determined young woman who is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts from the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh. Having been born and raised in Pakistan, Usra is all too familiar with the significant challenges women face in the developing world to simply pursue an education.

In her opinion one of the most significant tools for the development of any country is to empower the women of that country. Usra was lucky enough to be born into a family that placed equal importance on men and women in the household and society in general. She knows that women have a right to not only education, but basic human rights like safety, health facilities, and fair working conditions. In countries like Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, women are victims of sexual harassment and are killed in the name of honour. Young girls are forced to work in factories in deplorable conditions rather than go to school with their male peers.

“Girls [in these situations] never dare to speak up for their rights” because they live in a male-dominated society where speaking out could lead to punishment and even death. Usra is determined she can changes the lives of these young girls and women. Having been witness to this discrimination in Pakistan, Usra wondered: “How can we improve the status of women in our society? How can we change the mentality of people regarding women?” She quickly realized that the answer is education.

Usra has already begun her work to improve the plight of women in her village. She assists them in their studies and organizes programmes at their education center to teach and empower girls. Usra believes pursuing higher education will help her broaden her perspective as she meets people from different social, cultural, and religious backgrounds. She hopes to then return to her country to share her experiences with the enthusiastic girls in her community.

“I want to share my knowledge with them, which is the real purpose of my education. I can do this through my writing, by organizing seminars along with other students with the message that education [does] not only mean to read books and get marks, rather it is to share and develop others with you.”

by Marissa Pura