Dynamic Pakistani Women Immigrants Are Redefining Success

Three female entrepreneurs in North America demonstrate their creativity and tenacity.

Dynamic Pakistani Women Immigrants Are Redefining Success

Pakistani immigrants, specifically women, are making a mark everywhere, by continuously breaking through the rigidity of patriarchal structures, and are reforming the idea of traditions, norms, and ideals associated with them. They are tenaciously turning their dreams into lived, sustainable realities all over the world. Parallel to these realities, women within Pakistan continue to fight the same fight. Domestically, and professionally, it has always been easy and convenient to witness women as subservient to something, someone, and accepting of their inability to believe in anything other than the social order. And although this is prevalent, Pakistani women still unapologetically transcend from what is wanted out of them, by globally espousing choices, and inspiring women within their home nation as a result. 

Khalida Brohi, a Baloch immigrant in the United States, previously recognized under the Forbes 30 under 30 list for her exemplary entrepreneurship, is an example of this. Brohi founded Sughar, her non-governmental organization that works to empower women in tribal communities to become advocates for their rights. She also founded the restaurant, Chai Spot across different states in America, that is a nostalgic and familiar space for Pakistanis to reconnect with their culture through cuisine. Brohi is a strong representation of Pakistani women that follow their gut and work towards independence despite continuous, and various odds. It is saddening that not enough Pakistanis know about her, and not enough local women are given the chance to feel inspired by other women like her, that are rooted in the same background as them.

Another exceptional Pakistani immigrant is the late Fatima Ali, famous for her time on Top Chef, as well as her vast success as a multi-talented chef and restaurateur. Ali won two James Beard Foundation awards for her culinary writing, and in the same lifetime, suffered and consequently passed away from Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of cancer. The entire world watched Fatima Ali forge her culinary path with bravery, and courage, and meanwhile, the idea of an acceptable Pakistani woman remained stagnant within the narrow range of Pakistani thought. 

Moreover, Hamna Zafar, an Airman within the United States Air Force, fought against her family’s insistence on forcibly marrying her off, by vowing to find a route of freedom for herself. She is a Pakistani immigrant to the United States, who dealt with an overwhelming duality of adjusting to a new country and life, while being tied to Pakistan through being forcibly engaged to her cousin. Zafar, through this tug and war, chose to still hope for a life with autonomy, and with perseverance, created that life for herself by enrolling within the United States military. 

These three inspirational stories represent women that carry the baggage of being Pakistani, which is one symbol of familiarity that ironically undermines and exploits them and those like them. And on top of that, these women move into a new nation that lays its foundation on the otherization of people like them too. With all this, they persist and create lives for themselves, crafted by their power, resilience, intelligence and boundless ability.

Even with the existence of such realities, why does Pakistan still stand startled when faced with the acknowledgement of strong, independent women, and will we ever see a life in which it is only normal for women to implement their capabilities in diverse ways? A life in which to imagine a woman within such a role is not imaginative at all, and rather a reflection of mere reality?