Never Let Others Put You Down

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Mishaal Shahzad:

I was born in a traditional family, where my mother stayed orientated among her in- laws for quite sometime after me and my twin sister were born. She was harassed by her mother-in-law for not having much education. In Pakistan, a girl gets married after her A-levels, as though that is the maximum level of education she can obtain. My mother was among those women. She wanted to pursue her career but the societial norms and the culture prevented her from proceeding after her A-levels.

My mother did everything possible to please her in-laws. She did many chores,  cooked, house cleaned, and more.  But my grandmother always talked down to her, especially in front of relatives.They would either disown my mother in front of relatives or would take her daughters out  and leave her behind. They would also cut the wires of the telephone, so she couldn’t call her mother. On other occasions, if anyone praised my mother, her in-laws would not acknowledge it, AND would make up a story against her. My father had a business crisis and my grandmother blamed my mother for that too. But my mother remained peaceful, felt ashamed, and prayed to God.

We moved to another city, but the tauntings never stopped. They would often call to humiliate and underestimate us. My grandmother challenged my mother, saying that my mother’s children can’t succeed academically, and that only her daughter’s kids (we are my grandmother’s son’s children) will bring the family honor. We accepted the challenge and began to work harder; we knew that my mother faced a lot, and it was time to raise her head up.

Today we have completed our O/A levels with good grades. My mother sold her gold ornaments so that we could complete our studies and attend summer school abroad. I have started University and have been scoring well. I am currently blogging for UN projects. I did an internship for USAID project(s). I intern at different magazines and student councils. And, I have taken numerous courses online, for different universities.

My sister is a scholarship holder, a blogger for UN, and an Internee at Women’s Aid. We both have earned laptops from the Prime Minister Laptop Scheme for the highest achievers at our University. And, my brother is doing LLB and working with  NGO.

I pray we all keep succeeding and one day proudly represent our mother, who was always shamed by those relatives. And the one thing we learned, from those who don’t wish to see our success, is that we must continue to reach for the stars.

Mishaal’s story  was published as part of Sharing not Shaming campaign by SAFIGI Outreach Foundation Ltd, a not for profit organization based in Zambia with a vision to raise a generation where girls are empowered, equipped and fulfilled in every aspect of their life, for the development of the entire world. To know more about SAFIGI’s goals and activities, visit http://www.safetyfirstforgirls.org

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