Success has a name and it’s FEMALE!
Imagine yourself as a girl from rural Punjab. What comes to your mind? You stop going to school after primary? Doing household chores and waiting to be wed at the age of 16 to a complete stranger? And then living the rest of your life looking after your house and dedicating it to raising kids? My story is not stereotypical but of great inspiration. Though I might sound narcissistic, I’m writing this just to let every girl who is not given the opportunity to prosper to take the situation head-on and be the change that they want to see in their world.
I have made it to the headlines of all national dailies and have beaten thousands of great minds globally in the most competitive and prestigious accountancy exams that lead to a six-figure salary job with recognition in almost every part of the world.
Education is something that women cannot take for granted for many are denied the opportunity to pursue something that forms the foundation of a fulfilling life. My family has lived for generations in rural Pakistan, where there is little awareness of the benefits of education for girls, with the result that it is discouraged. When at school, I always knew that my education could stop at any time, so I had to choose a qualification that could open doors to the best and the most interesting job positions in the fastest possible time.
I decided to study business and accountancy because I had strong analytical skills and was looking for a stable professional future. I worked hard and seeing that being a girl, I could perform better than boys, my father began to support my educational ambitions. I then realized that if I was successful in my studies I might be able to influence others, and therefore remove some of the restrictions currently facing girls with similar backgrounds as me.
After finishing secondary school, I was told by my family that I could only study for three more years. As local degree courses took longer and had limited recognition, I decided to pursue ACCA. I could study at my own pace and at home, and it was a prestigious qualification, one that would expand my knowledge in a limited time and which was challenging to achieve. As a result, I enrolled in ACCA, saving every single rupee in order to reduce the financial burden on my family.
Where I come from, girls are not allowed to travel alone and so my mother had to travel with me to college every day. We didn’t have a car and so we took public transport where my mother often had to stand for most of the journey. I dedicate all my exam success to my mother, who sacrificed her own comfort for my career.
Although I could study and take exams privately, I did not want to compromise the quality of tuition – but SKANS School of Accountancy helped me with a partial scholarship and a plan to pay for my study in installments. I learned that young woman, if given the opportunity and the financial assistance, can reach the stars and truly actualize their dreams.
I feel my education has given me confidence in myself and has instilled in me a drive to create awareness in my community regarding education for girls. Sadly, in countries such as Pakistan, a larger portion of families are still against educating their female children. The reason most of them give is that women are made to get married, clean houses and raise kids. What most families don’t understand is that education opens many doors for a person both knowingly and unknowingly. It shapes up a human being mentally and physically. The way you sit, speak and approach others, reflects your educational background.
When I was awarded distinctions in my ACCA exams my parents were delighted and now other girls from my community have started to find inspiration in my ACCA journey, so hopefully, this will also give them hope and the courage to follow their dreams of having a professional career.
I would advise all young women out there who want to pursue their dreams but somehow feel restricted because of their family traditions to accept your family values so that your family will trust you – and then challenge these values with your dedication and determination, rather than becoming a rebel. One day, I hope to work in huge multinational corporations where I see myself occupying a board-level position. I feel I have some responsibility to represent my gender so that men know there are smart women out there who can do the role as effectively as anyone else.