Thursday, June 8, 2023

Celebrating Pakistan’s Miracle Women

The Pond’s Miracle Journey is back this year, honouring another 100 ‘miracle women’. The inspired campaign, launched last year, celebrates exceptional women in fields as diverse as medicine, lawn, fashion and media. 10 Miracle Mentors each choose 10 winners who they deem “miracle women”. The award focuses on the challenges and choices faced by working women and celebrates their achievements. Last year’s gala celebrated women as diverse as designer Maheen Kardarali, actress Zeba Bakhtiar and Businesswoman Sadia Khan along with doctors, lawyers and social activists. This year’s list is as diverse and includes our own editor Salima Feerasta, along with Aamna Taseer, Sayeeda Leghari and Faiza Rangoonwala.

This year’s mentors are Shehla Chatoor, the inspirational Muniba Mazari, model and entrepreneur Nadia Hussain, singer Hadiqa Kiani, actress Saba Hamid, CEO Moomal Productions Momina Duraid, eye surgeon Dr Mahnaz Naveed Shah, interior designer Sameena Abbas, make-up artiste Shamain Faruque and philanthropist Tahera Hasan. Each has chosen a diverse and interesting range of winners.

With the ceremony this weekend, Dr Sabyn Javeri tell us a little more about Shamain Faruque’s group of miracle women. Shamain, a name synonymous with flawless makeup, is one of Pakistan’s premier bridal makeup artistes. Having been in the business for 25 years, she is every bride’s number one choice for their big day. Shamain’s signature look is classic and flawless, focusing on enhancing a bride’s natural features. Her love for what she does and her dedication to always doing the best distinguishes Shamain from the rest. Shamain’s understanding of what her clients want along with being an incredibly skilled and professional woman makes Shamain an ideal Miracle Mentor, a devoted mother of three and a total perfectionist both at work and at home.

Nighat Lone

Education Consultant

Keyword: Conflict- resolver

Nighat Lone

Educationalist Nighat Lone, carried a dream inside her for many years to make a difference to the quality of state education in Pakistan. After 25 years her miracles are beginning to take shape and the change has begun. ‘I work in policy, and to bring in modern ideas and balance them with a traditional outlook has not been an easy challenge,’ she says. ‘The slow acceptance of those ideas has taken years. But each time that has happened, those have been my miracle moments. Changing mind-sets is the biggest miracle.’

Change is never easy and Nighat’s miracle journey shows that if you want to make a difference you have to lead by example. Nighat started out as a teacher, moved on to the development world, advising on the quality of education at the local and the federal level. ‘When I was teaching in a private school in Peshawar, I used to think there are plenty of resources for these children but very few for ones in government schools. When I got a lucky break in an advisory role, I became passionate about it, devoting myself to the marginalised sector.’

She has paid a high price to pursue her passion for change for as she says, ‘When you make something your passion you have a price to pay for it.’ Balancing home-life with such a demanding career was not an easy task but she has no regrets. However Nighat is glad she was there for her children during the developing years. And she advises other women to do the same. ‘I think mothers should focus on young children. I started after seven years, when my children were fairly independent and it did not make much of a difference. I’m still in the senior position as I would have been if I had started any earlier.’

The journey has been challenging but it’s been worth it. ‘Women have to try twice as hard to get recognition but it is not an impossible task. Have the right attitude, neither apologetic nor defensive. If you know you are doing the right thing you will get the appreciation you deserve.’ Wise words indeed!


Naima Dadabhoy

Multi-media artist

Keyword: Arty

Naima Dadabhoy
Naima Dadabhoy

Naima Dadabhoy turned her childhood passion for art into her profession. An artist by training, Naima had to join the family business on her return to Pakistan after completing her studies. ‘Art was different when I moved here in the 90s. My family didn’t think it was something you can make money from. My Dad asked me to join his business but after five years I quit because my heart just wasn’t in it.’

She found an outlet for her creativity by marrying traditional art forms with visual and digital forms of new media. Today Naima is a successful multimedia artist and her family is proud of her achievements.

Her other interest is science and for this reason many of her artworks deal with cellular designs. ‘I’m interested in science and I sometimes get cells from the lab and draw them. Both beauty and decay interest me.’

However being an artist is not easy in Pakistan where women are supposed to take on many different roles to perfection in the course of the day.

‘Sometimes you really have to suppress your feelings and creativity because of the many commitments to the society. You have to be a wife, mother, a daughter and it can be very difficult to remain safe. You have to switch back and forth. Being an artist in Pakistan is not easy at all but it has its own beauty,’ she says. Tough as it is for an artist to keep time, Naima feels it is very important to have self-discipline so that one can make maximum use of commitment-free time. Although it is more difficult for the artistic mind to curb creativity, Naima feels it’s a struggle that all working mothers feel. ‘We all go through the same journey. We are all artists inside,’ she says. Naima’s words make one realize that in the end it’s not about the destination but the miracle journey itself that makes it worthwhile.


Amna Tauqeer


YUM by Amna (Baker)

Key word: Innovative

Amna Tauqeer of Yum
Amna Tauqeer of Yum

Baking artist, Amna Tauqeer, transformed her passion into a profession when she decided to launch her own baking business. ‘Yum by Amna kicked off in 2012,’ she says explaining the history behind the venture. ‘I’ve always been passionate about baking. And it felt only natural to turn it into a profession.’ What better indeed to do what you love for a living! Her business grew rapidly but the journey was far from easy for at the pinnacle of her career Amna’s family had to relocate. ‘I had just established myself in Dubai when we moved here.’ However that did not stop her from starting over right away.

In hindsight Amna admits that she did herself no favours by launching herself into an entrepreneurial venture as soon as she arrived in an unfamiliar place. ‘The decision of starting Yum in Karachi was a very difficult one as I was in the middle of settling into a new city, helping my kids adjust to a new school and all the other things that come with moving countries. But it was my passion as much as my profession so although the decision was a little crazy and selfish – it was also very fulfilling.’ For Amna the crazy deadlines and insane working hours were offset by the huge sense of achievement she felt.

A good support system is the lifeline of most working mothers who are professionals. Lacking that, Amna had to find a way to evolve her work around her home life. ‘I try to involve my children so they feel part of it. They feel a sense of pride when they see my work being appreciated especially my son who is 13 now. The role model you become for your children is the most precious thing.’

As for the home-life balance, Amna feels there is none for mothers operating from home. ‘I work from home and some people would say it’s easier, but it can actually be more difficult because the work never ends — unlike a defined 9 to 5 job, when you come home and switch off. All the balls are in the air at once and you’re juggling away.’

Her personal miracle moment came recently when she did the Magnum Chocolate Party bash. ‘I had to make pure chocolate shoes and clutches and 600 giveaways. It was really hard to handle chocolate as the weather was horrible.’ But she did it and how! Miracle woman Amna’s hardwork and dedication to her craft will surely motivate many other home-entrepreneurs to not give up when the going gets tough.


Uzma Khan

Banker turned social entrepreneur

Key word: Connected


Uzma Khan


Miracle woman Uzma Khan has proved that we all have it in us to carve our own path. All we need is self-belief. A banker for the last 26 years, Uzma’s struggle began at a young age. She lost her father while at school yet she was determined to complete her education and enter a viable profession for she saw her mother struggle throughout her childhood. Early on in her marriage she lost her husband but decided to stay abroad where she brought up her daughter undaunted by the prospects of having to go it alone. ‘It was my decision not to move back after my husband’s death because I did not want to be sucked into a very complacent overly dependent protective life of a young widow. Being a banker I made a five year plan not to even visit till I was strong enough emotionally.’

Once her daughter was older, Uzma made another life changing decision to move back and to leave banking for the social sector. Today she works for a non-profit youth organisation. ‘I had made a promise to myself that a decade before I retire I would do something to help others. When my daughter went to university I decided it was the right time to return. I wanted to give back to my country. So I moved to the social sector, working for the youth NGO and became a banker turned social entrepreneur. I’ve always been involved in working with people and now the purpose of my life has become to help others.’

Uzma’s humanity, her commitment to her cause coupled with her strong decision making ability is inspirational. Her miracle journey shows that we are all masters of our own destinies. As she says, ‘Sooner or later we all reach our destination. It’s all about how much effort we put in the journey!’


Moneeza Butt

Chartered Accountant and a Partner in KPMG Taseer Hadi & Co

Key word: Determined

Mooneza Butt


A small step for accountants but a giant leap for womankind, is what Moneeza Butt’s miracle journey to becoming the first female partner in a leading chartered accountancy firm, is about.

‘It hasn’t been an easy journey,’ she says. ‘But I cherish it.’ Becoming partner was the single most defining moment of her life professionally, as Moneeza recalls, ‘I had just given birth to my first child and I was thinking of quitting work; they offered me the partnership. So I decided to become a working mother.’

Moneeza found inspiration in Benazir Bhutto as a strong female role model. ‘She was such an inspiration- she became the first prime minister of a Muslim country; and the youngest. She achieved so much in life. Incidentally, she also went to the same school as me.’ Inevitably, Moneeza, too, is making a positive impression in the life of her female colleagues and acquaintances, and this she acknowledges.

‘I am making a difference. Lots of people ask me about work-life balance and how I maintain it.’ Growing professionally and also bringing up two kids, she leads by example.

Moneeza feels the perception of working women is changing fast nowadays – thanks to strong role models and flexible employers. ‘Organisations like Unilever are making a big difference by providing facilities like daycare which promote having women in the top management.’ This, she feels, is essential to balancing out the gender difference in our work force. ‘One should not quit after studying so much. Just bringing up kids is not enough mental stimulation for anyone. Everything can be managed. There should be other activities women should pursue.’

Not just internally but externally too, Moneeza stresses on the importance of looking impeccable. ‘You need to be presentable, because you are representing your organisation. One should change their products, wardrobe according to their age, and have a proper beauty regime; take care of one’s diet and exercise regularly. It is necessary to have a routine to your day.’

Moneeza has achieved so much in such little time, and her inspirational miracle journey is sure to inspire many other working women to leadership roles like the ones she has achieved through sheer will and grit.


Anisa Rashid Khan

Event Planner

Anisa Rashid Khan
Anisa Rashid Khan

Doing what you love and working for yourself is the ultimate satisfaction that one can have — event organizer Anisa Rashid Khan’s miracle journey proves just that. Originally from Peshawar, Anisa’s foray into the world of event management began with a request to help with Pakistan Squash Federations events back in the late 80’s. ‘In 1990, Pakistan hosted the World Squash Open. I managed to organize a huge event and also secure sponsorships for it.’ Following her successful and memorable event planning, Anisa was asked to become the marketing manager for the Federation. Later she helped organize the Golf tournaments for the Asian Golfers Society as well. ‘We brought all the big golf tours to Pakistan,’ she says. Sadly after Jahangir Khan and Jan Sher Khan, Pakistan did not produce any squash champions and so her role ended. But armed with the skills and the aptitude she had gained, Anisa launched her own event planning company and went on to scale new heights. Like many working mothers, Anisa arranged her work life around her family rather than the other way around. As a result her daughter too developed a passion for organizing and today works with her. ‘I now run my company RAKA events with my daughter Amina,’ she says proudly. Just as she has inspired her own daughter, Anisa feels her own inspiration and role model was her mother. ‘My mother really inspires me. She is 87 now and still going strong. She does honorary work for women’s empowerment in Peshawar. In fact whenever I have a very long day, as it usually happens in event management that sometimes you are on your feet for hours at a stretch, I think of her and keep going.’ Despite her busy schedule Anisa takes care of her skin, being a regular sunscreen user, and having a particular affinity for Pond’s.

The three generations of determined women that Anisa belongs to, are sure to inspire many other creative mother-daughter teams in Pakistan – many of whom are just raring to prove their talent.


Salima Fareesta


Keyword: Savvy

Salima Feerasta

Fashionista Salima Fareesta, knows from intimate experience that life is too short to play it safe. When uncertainty knocked on her door, she embraced the adventure of being a creative entrepreneur, and through different twists and turns discovered her unique ability to blog with panache.

‘I’m the chief editor of, Pakistan’s largest digital magazine, and a social media consultant and the mother of three boys,’ she says, ‘I feel like I’m living three lives at once!’ With a degree in physics from Oxford, Salima initially joined the family’s steel trading business abroad but marriage brought her to Pakistan. ‘The steel market in Pakistan has a very chauvinistic culture and I found I was spending more time trying to prove myself than actually working. I decided to take time off. After the kids I got cabin fever and started writing. That was when digital came about.’

Salima found that her unique background in science give her an edge over technology and at the same time a creative eye made her writing sharp. took off and she hasn’t looked back since. The journey hasn’t always been easy and as a mother of three, Salima has sometimes missed out on key opportunities that would have strengthened her career. But she feels it’s all worth it in the end, as for her, ‘family comes first’. Luckily, technology has given her the flexibility she needs to work around her children’s schedule. She hopes that more women will hop on the digital bandwagon for the flexibility it offers them. ‘I think it is one of the best things that will enable women to get back into the work force, as it means you can work remotely. You are free to work hours that suit you. Plus you don’t have to be physically away.’

Salima is passionate about Pakistan entering the digital age as she feels that it has opened up never before opportunities for home entrepreneurs. ‘Everything is digital in Pakistan. Thanks to mobile phones we have a huge reach. Everyone is on Facebook – from my nanny to my granny! Pakistan has embraced the digital age completely.’

Here’s hoping that more women will take Salima’s lead and follow suit her inspirational miracle journey to the top of the digital summit.


Faiqa Baksh


Baker/Fabric Painter

Key word: kindly

Faiqa Baksh
Faiqa Baksh

Faiqa Baksh’s compassion is evident in the way she relates to the society around her. She took a tragic incident in her life and turned it around into a beautiful gift of giving. ‘I came into counselling for personal reasons to help someone,’ she says. Although she lacks any formal training, Faiqa tries to help people with her ample empathy. ‘I am not a trained counsellor,’ she says. ‘But I try to help people with addictions and bipolar and other mental illnesses.’ Her other passions are baking and fabric painting, skills that she pursued professionally.

‘I started baking as a hobby, inspired by my mother, and now my daughter is inspired by me. I also did fabric painting. In fact I did both simultaneously for 15 years and then baking took over. It had a great trickle-down effect. I feel we all need to invest professionally and personally in our lives.’ Faiqa feels that women need to work for their independence and be financially and emotionally independent. ‘We need to emotionally detach ourselves from things not in our control,’ she says.

As for balancing work with home, she feels it gets easier with time. ‘My life was not easy when kids were growing up but now I have a lot of time. I balance my life well because I work very early in the mornings, when my house is still asleep.’

There are few people who give away their time to help others without expecting anything in return. Faiqa’s miracle journey and her battle against addiction will inspire many others in joining the fight to battle our demons.


Dr.Tasneem Butt



Key word: Empathic

Dr Tasneem Butt

Dr. Tasneem Butt overcame a devastating personal tragedy to embrace a life of giving. Blending empathy with steely determination, she has dedicated her life to volunteering at Karachi’s Jinnah Hospital, using her medical knowledge and her personal strength to help patients and their families heal.

‘It was my mother’s wish for me to become a doctor. She could not study so made it a point for me to go all the way. It wasn’t an easy journey but my mother’s enthusiasm helped me.’ Dr. Butt recalls how having been married at an early age and even as a young mother, her mother kept motivating her to complete her studies. However, after completion, she decided not to pursue a career. ‘I did not pursue a profession because I could not leave my kids at such a young age.’

Given that the medical profession required long and unpredictable hours, she joined as a volunteer so she could keep to her hours. Having lost her son in a sudden tragic accident, she feels that it was the right thing to do. ‘I lost my son when he was just 17, so I’m happy that I spent the time I did with him. He had a sudden car accident and was gone in a second. I consider myself lucky to have looked after him.’ However, it was her work that came to her rescue in the wake of such a tragedy and for this she is grateful. ‘I continued working after he left and that’s what saved me. Profession gives women an emotional strength.’

But her emotional strength is not her only miracle. Dr. Butt’s miracle journey is all about giving and another life-changing decision she made was to stay in Pakistan when most doctors were leaving for greener and ‘safer’ pastures.

‘There was a time when things were so bad that people were leaving Pakistan. We also decided to leave. I spoke to my professor about it but something he said made me realise that if all good doctors leave then what is going to be left behind. I went back and told my husband, I am not going anywhere. We unpacked our bags. That was a major turning point in my life.’

Her message is for others to join in her struggle and, with or without medical expertise, commit to helping others. ‘Our country needs helpers. You don’t have to be a doctor to help others. One can volunteer at the hospital in guiding people to better hygiene or simply help find their way around. Just guide them to all hospital related things. It’s a great help.’

Hopefully Dr. Butt’s message will get through to all those who want to make a difference. Her miracle journey shows that we can overcome our own personal struggles by helping others, for too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around


Saman Nomani


Beautician/Salon Owner

Keyword: Graceful

Saman Nomani

‘Living it safe is not living at all,’ is what beautician Saman Nomani learned from intimate experience. Saman left a secure job of 14 years to branch out on her own. ‘Starting my own salon was the toughest choice I ever made,’ she says. Looking ravishingly young for a mother of two preteens, she explains how, after a long and steady career working for a salon, she realised that if she really wanted to grow, it would have to be on her own terms. Saman started her career in 1997 with Pivot Point and it wasn’t until 2012 that she finally made the big leap to entrepreneurship. ‘Starting my own salon was the biggest decision I ever made,’ she admits. ‘It took a lot of courage to break away from the security of working for someone. It was a huge risk to start my own venture.’

But despite the uncertainty, she did it. And today she runs a bustling salon which she calls her little miracle. ‘Every time I’m at my salon, and happen to look up to see a buzzing salon, full of clients, it really motivates me. Those are my miracle moments.’

Despite a thriving business, for Saman, family always comes first. ‘I’m lucky to have a great support system. My parents really help out and my husband works partly from home so that helps. I’m also one of those lucky few to be blessed with great domestic help.’ A rarity indeed! Although Saman has achieved that tricky work life balance she is aware that there are many who are not able to. Her advice to those struggling mothers is to try and find equilibrium. ‘I wouldn’t have gone out to work if my home life was not secure. A lot of women tend to neglect that very important fact and choose professional life over personal. Manage your life first before choosing to come out.’

But work life balance is not the only thing she hopes women will strive to achieve. ‘We live in a very looks-conscious society. How you look, how you carry yourself, also plays a pivotal role in who you are. The key is to get the balance right in your life in everything, be it sleep, exercise or diet.’ Like time management, Saman feels age management is also very important. ‘A good cleansing routine is a must. It doesn’t have to be the world’s most expensive products just as long as you use them routinely.’

Her wise words are sure to motivate many others, struggling to strike a balance between the personal and the professional.


Watch out for pictures from this weekend’s celebratory gala on our Instagram @karachista1 and on the blog.


Profiles by Dr. Sabyn Javeri, Pictures: Publicity.












Salima Feerasta
Salima Feerasta is chief editor of and one of Pakistan's top fashion and lifestyle journalists.

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