Bina Shah

The very flamboyant Bina Shah is a writer and a columnist, with a number of books and novels under her belt. She writes op-ed columns for a variety of prestigious international and local newspapers, such as The New York Times, Al Jazeera, Guardian, The Huffington Post and DAWN. “I am very happy and the quintessential single woman. Single women also have their place in Pakistani society which I have spent quite a lot of time proving to people. It is very much the norm for women to get married and have a family from early on. That was never my path. I took the career path. My life is full of value, joy, learning opportunities and positive moments. I have never felt there is anything lacking in my life and I want other women to know that too,” proclaims Bina.

Being a writer is more challenging than most people believe. It is a profession for which one needs solace. Bina’s family gives her the space for creative thinking and when need be, drags her out of the house to allow her to have the positive social interactions that every human being needs for balance and stability. Bina also explains that “A lot of my work is online so I use a lot of social media and blogging and there can be a lot of harassment and negativity coming my way as a woman, as a writer, as someone with a voice and is somewhat of a public figure. That can be difficult to deal with.” However, she has over time learnt how to handle that pressure and believes that negativity is not something to be dissuaded by. “It is important for Pakistani women to be out there in the 21st century and become part of conversations. I feel I have a lot of practice in handling these things coming towards me so I feel pretty good about it now.” She adds.

Bina feels that it is a mere myth that only women depend on men. Men also depend on women hence the relationship between a man and a woman is that of interdependence. None of us is an island and it must be recognized that “we are all interdependent, we support each other, celebrate each other’s diversity, talents and gifts.” However, she is a firm believer of the fact that women must have their own money which they can spend as they please, or save it, without being answerable to anybody. Women make 52% of the Pakistani population and yet are treated as second class citizens. Therefore, much of her writing is focused on feminism, the need to prevent child marriage, domestic violence and laws to protect the rights of women. Bina takes this to be her mission and, through her writing, aims to contribute the much essential social change.

Bina’s inspiration to address the issues facing the women of Pakistan takes root in the general restrictions that a woman faces while growing up in this country which make her feel uncomfortable when she’s young and slowly picks up in intensity as she grows up. “You get told not to flaunt your body, to cover yourself and that you are responsible of the honour of the family. Women are suffocated under these restrictions. Growing up, my mother made me very aware of the injustices towards women. It was a gradual awareness. I went to a women’s college (Wellesley College). There I was made aware of the feminist movement. We are made to think it is anti Islam that it is Western. For me, Islam gives me certain rights as a woman and feminism is the vehicle by which I can fight to achieve them. So, for me, the two things go very well together. I am both a Muslim woman and a feminist.”

As far as her Miracle Moment is concerned, Bina says that she has two – “the day I graduated from Harvard with a Masters in Education and the more recent one is when I got an offer from The New York Times to write a monthly column” she says with tears in her eyes.

To maintain her physical health and keep herself academically charged, Bina ensures a good diet that involves the right fruits, vegetables, water as well as supplements. She also exercises and gets enough sleep. In addition to that, she believes that it is “important to think good thoughts and find a way to stay positive/optimistic - that shows on your skin. I am very particular about cleansing. I never go to sleep with makeup on.”

The Miracle Woman Bina Shah is an example of a person who is perceptive, sensitive and wants to give back to the country in every way possible. She does not plan be disappointed; she plans on dreaming big and winning. With dynamic women like Bina leading the wave of social change, Pakistan is sure to become a more tolerant and progressive society sooner than later.