Barbie has long been the pioneer in shaping a girl’s budding views about fashion and beauty. However, with the recent increase in awareness about social issues pertaining to ideal beauty standards, the toy company Mattel has been forced to rethink their ideology around the Barbie doll.
The company conducted a survey, the results of which confirmed that today’s mothers are very much concerned with what their children consume in terms of entertainment, prompting the company to create 17 dolls of real women who make for amazing role models for little girls. The release includes women like artist Frida Kahlo, fencing champion Ibtihaj Muhammad, and body positive model Ashley Graham, etc.
Pakistani women have also never been behind in proving their mettle in various fields, despite not getting enough recognition, and there’s a long list of them who make for amazing role models for young girls!
Here are 10 Pakistani women who have achieved great heights in their respective fields and shattered the glass ceiling, making them some of the most awe-inspiring role models and hence we think they should be immortalized as dolls.
Perhaps the most famous millennial from Pakistan, Malala has been the face of resilience since she was a little girl. Born in Mingora, Pakistan, Malala has advocated for the right to education for girls since the age of 11, when she started writing for BBC. When her activism started gaining traction, the young girl of 15 was shot in the head by the Taliban. She survived, and went on to fight for the rights of every woman who lives an oppressed life. She has set up the Malala Fund, through which she champions for every girl’s right to free, safe, and quality education for at least 12 years. She is the youngest ever Nobel laureate, having won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her tireless pursuit. Currently studying at the University of Oxford, Malala is an example of unwavering determination and the perfect role model for young girls.
Muniba was just 21 years old when she met an accident that left her paralyzed from the hip down. Refusing to let that dampen her spirit, she has marched on and above, breaking through barriers to achieve her goals. Working as an artist, activist, and a philanthropist, Muniba has managed to grab and hold on to every dream that she dreams.
She currently serves as Pakistan’s National Ambassador for UN Women, and is a motivational speaker. She has also been featured on the BBC’s 100 Most Inspirational Women list in 2015, as well as made her way into the Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in 2016. Widely regarded as the Iron Lady of Pakistan, Muniba is one woman who is the face of strength.
The name Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy has become synonymous with empowerment, as the filmmaker continues to rally for the rights of women in Pakistan with her documentaries. She brought the country’s first Oscar home in 2012 for her documentary — Saving Face — that focused on acid attack victims. She went on to bag another Academy Award in 2015, for her documentary titled — A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness — which highlighted the issue of honor killings in Pakistan.
Despite garnering criticism for showing the dark side of Pakistan, Sharmeen has made it a point to become the voice of the voiceless, and help those in need. Imagine a doll with its own director’s chair, opening up the minds of young girls to the possibility of careers that are usually overlooked. What could be a better than that?
Sana Mir, the former captain of the Pakistan Women’s cricket team, has become the face of changing the accepted norms in the Pakistani society. Looking at Sana, you get to see how pursuing your dreams, no matter how unconventional, will always be better than getting stuck doing something you don’t enjoy.
Sana has led the Pakistani team to victory on more than one occasion; in fact she’s mentored the team to win two gold medals at the Asian Games in 2010 and 2014. She was ranked at number 1 in the Women’s ODI bowlers in the ICC Player Rankings, and has done more for women in Pakistani cricket than anyone else. Imagine little girls playing with a doll in a cricket jersey, ready to swing a cricket ball. How inspiring is that!
Samina Baig is literally scaling the heights of freedom and success, being the high altitude mountaineer that she is. She is the first Pakistani woman to climb all seven of the highest peaks around the world, in a span of eight months, that too at just 23 years of age. Talk about soaring to heights!
Samina was born in one of the northern most areas of Pakistan, having developed an interest in mountaineering and outdoor climbing at an early age. For her great achievements in this extreme sport, Samina has had a documentary made on her life, aptly called Beyond the Heights and is also the National Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP. Makes for a pretty solid model figure, doesn’t she?
Ace lawyer and human rights activist, late Asma Jehangir was a force to be reckoned with. Co-founder and chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Asma was tireless in her efforts to help the disenfranchised.
Asma became Pakistan’s first woman to serve as the President of Supreme Court Bar Association, after having led the Lawyer’s Movement. She even has a long list of awards to her name, including the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, Sitara-i-Imtiaz, as well as the Nishan-e-Imtiaz. Having a doll modelled after a figure as iconic as Asma Jehangir would be one for the books.
This brave heart is Pakistan Air Force’s first female fighter pilot. Young, determined and fierce, Ayesha flies missions in a Chengdu J-7 fighter jet alongside her 24 male colleagues in Squadron 20. In a society where flying an aircraft may as well be the last thing a girl can dream about, Ayesha is breaking barriers by being a part of Pakistan’s front line dogfighting squadron. This means that she is qualified for combat, and can shoot down not just stereotypes but also aircrafts. For all her grit, merit, and courage, Ayesha is one fighter lady the whole of Pakistan can look up to and admire.
Mahira Khan is one of the most popular and beloved actresses in Pakistan, coupled with being probably one of the firsts to have immense cross-country success. Everyone in Pakistan who doesn’t live under a rock knows Mahira and can name at least one of her movies or drama serials; that’s how popular she is. As if that wasn’t a good enough perspective, Mahira has starred alongside the one and only Shahrukh Khan!
She rose to fame after appearing in the chart-busting drama serial Humsafar, before which she had been a VJ for MTV Pakistan and had starred in Bol opposite Atif Aslam. Quickly gaining popularity, Mahira has continued to emerge as the country’s most loved star. She has represented Pakistan at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018. She is also extremely informed and always makes sure to use her fame to highlight important causes. If we talk about overcoming the odds and turning them in your favor, everyone can learn a bit from Mahira and that’s why we think she has to be in the list.
Benazir Bhutto is the epitome of trailblazing and setting standards for women all around the globe. Keeping politics aside, Benazir has done more for the world in terms of female representation than many others in recent times just by being herself and that definitely warrants her a place as a great role model for young girls.
She was the first woman to lead a democratic government in a Muslim majority nation, and that alone is a feat that makes her one of the most important female figures in Pakistan. She served as Pakistan’s Prime Minister on two occasions and the respect she commanded was apparent when she was assassinated in 2007.
Having a doll designed after Benazir would bring light to her legacy and boy, do we need more confident and empowered girls.
Bilquis Bano was born on the 14th August, 1947 just as the country she and her husband have done so much for. Talk about poetic parallels.
Bilquis Edhi is the wife of Abdul Sattar Edhi, the revered philanthropist who dedicated his life to bettering others, and just as her husband, Bilquis Edhi has left no stone unturned to serve the country in more ways than one with her generosity and kind spirit. Widely regarded as the mother of thousands of orphans that the Edhi home took in their shelter homes, Bilquis is the picture of love and tenderness and continues to further her husband’s legacy even after his demise.
She heads the Bilquis Edhi Foundation, holds the honor of being awarded the prestigious Hilal-e-Imtiaz and along with her husband, received the 1986 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service. She is also the recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize. If there’s one woman to idolize and emulate, it’s Bilquis Edhi.