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‘Education, developing individual talent can help curb skin colour discrimination

By News Desk
June 20, 2020

Dawood Global Foundation, in partnership with Indus University, LADIESFUND, Catwalk Cares, and Lean in Pakistan, organised a LADIESFUND Educate a Girl’s Facebook live session, titled ‘You Are Not Defined By The Colour Of Your Skin’, to combat colour discrimination and programming to help young Pakistani women with building their self- esteem.

According to a press release, over 50 dynamic and inspiring global and local speakers participated. Samina Alvi, wife of the president of Pakistan, was the chief guest for the conference and keynote speakers included Aamina Sheikh (actress/human rights activist), Dr Bertice Berry (African-American educator and sociologist, Georgia USA), Aisha Farooqui (official spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad), Aisha Mukhtar (country representative, i.e. UN Women) and Zohra Yusuf (former chairperson, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan). Panellists included Salima Hashimi, Sheema Kermani, Nabeela Khatak (chair, OPEN DC), Ameena Saiyid, Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Shaniera Akram, Ayesha Omar, Fifi Haroon (BBC, speaking from London), African-American CEO of Women of Colour in the Workplace Julene Allen (Chicago, USA), Baloch rapper Abid Brohi, Hema Gokal (APAC Lean in Global & former director UN Women, speaking from Singapore), Sanya Khurana, founder, Lean in India (Ghaziabad, India), Shrruti, President, Lean in Gurgaon (Gurgaon, Haryana, India), Amin Gulgee, Monis Rehman, Frieha Altaf, Syeda Henna Babar Ali, Amna Ilyas, Habib Paracha, and Carla Petievich (professor of Women Studies, speaking from Texas, USA).

Special case studies on Turkey and Syria were presented by powerhouses Sevil Pacalioglu (Istanbul) and Raghad Alkhatib (Syria). Pakistan’s national anthem was sung by vocalist Nabila Bano, recitation by Talat Hashimi, comedian Akbar Chaudry spoke on “Lighten Your Mood, Not Your Skin Colour,” mindfulness expert Saman Aly conducted a much needed yoga stretch, and rockstar Shallum Xavier of Fuzon closed out the event with an exclusive performance pepped with his own personal stories.

In addition to these and many more A-listers speaking from around the world, one of the most important sessions spotlighted three of the Educate a Girl scholars at Indus University -- Mariam Faiz, Warda Khan and Summan Iftikhar -- who spoke about the deep pain and difficulties faced by colour discrimination, not just for marriage and modelling, but even to get an entry job at a bank.

Tara Uzra Dawood, president, Dawood Global Foundation - Educate a Girl, welcomed all to the conference with these key words: “Colourism is discrimination against people because they have a darker complexion. Someone with a lighter complexion is considered to be more beautiful or valuable than someone with dark skin. In Pakistan, it is our young girls who face the brunt of this discrimination, compounded with class structures. This must change and change today.”

Mrs. Alvi officially opened the conference, stating, “Educating a girl means educating a generation. Education and developing individual talent create individual confidence that they can overcome the skin colour discrimination.”

Dr Bertice Berry brought the audience to tears with her powerful words, particularly when she stated, “We are literally using the standards of the people who oppress us against us.”

Aamina Sheikh’s opening keynote was truly a speech from her heart, with memorable statements such as, “Every Muslim female should know there is no place for skin colour discrimination in Islam. This is an empowerment and should be used in our development.”

Monis Rehman, founder,, Pakistan’s largest job site, was adamant, “Colour should have no place in the workplace.”

Through the various partner channels hosting, streaming and sharing this event, more than three million Pakistanis and many more globally continue to have access to this conference, which remains on the Facebook page, and will be soon uploaded on the Educate a Girl YouTube channel and website.