Program Manager, Aahung
"My initial struggle for women's and young people's rights started with my own personal commitment to ensuring for girls the same opportunities usually provided only to boys in my society. "
Fatima Haider is the Program Manager at Aahung, a non-profit organization that aims to promote and protect sexual health and rights in Pakistan. She completed her Bachelors degree in Biology from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY (2002). more>>
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Jennifer Kidwell, IWHC: How did you get involved in the struggle for women's and young people's rights?
Fatima Haider: My initial struggle for women's and young people's rights started with my own personal commitment to ensuring for girls the same opportunities usually provided only to boys in my society. These include being able to drive, getting a higher education, and then later, marrying someone of your own choice. more>>
JK: What inspired you to start working with Aahung?
FH: Aahung was, and probably still is, the only organization in Pakistan that purely addresses issues relating to sex and sexuality. Simply being a part of this organization has been an extremely empowering experience. more>>
JK: How do you feel that Aahung has changed young people's lives, either in specific instances or in general?
FH: One of the key initiatives of my organization is developing life skills in young people from various communities—including developing girls' self-esteem, giving young people information about their health and rights and how to protect it, as well as teaching respect and negotiation skills within relationships. more>>
JK: What do you see as major challenges facing young people in Pakistan today? What about greatest opportunities?
FH: Some challenges common to both sexes include the lack of healthy avenues for interaction between boys and girls, and limited, inaccessible resources relating to age-appropriate and accurate information about their body parts and processes. more>>
JK: What do you think are some of the most important issues for programmers and policymakers to address in order to promote and protect the health and rights of young people—especially young girls?
FH: When developing programs or policies pertaining to young people, it is extremely important to remember that confidentiality must be given utmost priority. Services should be non-threatening and the providers should create an atmosphere in which the young person availing the service never feels judged. more>>
JK: How can activists, policymakers, different groups work together to bring young people to the table?
FH: In order to encourage young people to raise their concerns, an atmosphere has to be created where they are provided with a safe and comfortable space for a meaningful dialogue. They must be assured that their opinion and needs are important and will be given priority. more>>
JK: What are your dreams for the future? Can you describe your vision of an ideal or better world?
FH: A place where women and children are treated with respect and dignity and not abused, where the education system enables young people to make positive decisions about their lives...more>>
JK: How did you first become acquainted with IWHC?
FH: I first became acquainted with IWHC when I joined Aahung in 2003, as they provide funding to Aahung. IWHC is much more than just a donor for Aahung, they are role models and a source of inspiration for us. more>>