ISLAMABAD: UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, named Muniba Mazari as Pakistan’s first female goodwill ambassador to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
As the goodwill ambassador for UN Women Pakistan, Muniba will dedicate her efforts towards the empowerment of women and girls, and would serve as an advocate for UN Women’s “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” and other campaigns.
Muniba Mazari is a writer, artist, singer, activist and a motivational speaker. She is also a paraplegic, having lost control of both legs in a car accident.
Through her vibrant paintings, she expresses in bold colours the strength of her own personality. Her purpose is to inspire others to live their lives to the fullest.
Speaking at the event held in Islamabad, Muniba said, “I am a strong supporter of UN Women and the role we have in ending gender-based discrimination, and working towards gender equality, making it a lived reality by 2030."
“We need to educate both men and women if we want to eliminate gender based discrimination from the country and from the world, and for this we'll have to work together as one,” she said.
This is the time to empower women and girls because when you empower one woman, you empower the whole generation, Muniba added.
'Pakistan ─ place where women can make their mark'
Below is an excerpt from an interview Muniba gave to Dawn in which the artist talked about the accident that changed her life and her resolve to move on.
Q. Do you feel resentful when you think about the accident which left you handicapped for life?
A. When the car started going into a ditch, I knew this was the end of my life. When I gained consciousness I was reciting the kalma and thinking I have been given a new life. Half of my body was fractured and the rest paralysed. I neither complain nor blame anyone. I believe it was destined to happen. I was 20 years old at the time and had not done anything special in my life. Today, I know where I am going and my life is important to me.
Q. Following the accident, how did you develop yourself as the person that you are today?
A. I began painting while I was still at the Agha Khan Hospital. I was bandaged all over and could barely move my hands but painted because I wanted to distract myself. Today, I work at a school for underprivileged children. My aim is to find donors and philanthropists who would fund the school so that more children may be enrolled. I am also a part of Toni and Guy’s wheel chair modelling campaign, the brand ambassador for the Body Shop Pakistan and Pond’s miracle woman.
Also read: Two Pakistanis on BBC's 2015 100 Women list
The announcement of Muniba as Pakistan’s first female national goodwill ambassador for gender equality and women’s empowerment is very timely as it follows the adoption by the Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif, along with other world leaders, of a new development framework in September 2015 at the UN General Assembly.
The new agenda based on seventeen sustainable development goals, includes a stand-alone goal on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, as well as gender sensitive targets within the other goals.
The global initiative ‘Orange the World: End Violence against Women and Girls’ is led by UN Women on behalf of the UN Secretary-General’s global campaign UNiTE to end violence against women.
The campaign’s orange colour reflects a bright and optimistic future for women and girls, and a life free from violence and discrimination.