Local News

Everyone has a qyssa to tell

November 22 - November 28, 2023
Gulf Weekly Everyone has a qyssa to tell
Gulf Weekly Everyone has a qyssa to tell
Gulf Weekly Everyone has a qyssa to tell
Gulf Weekly Everyone has a qyssa to tell
Gulf Weekly Everyone has a qyssa to tell

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Two influential Pakistani women in the kingdom have launched a social media account that celebrates women from their country and their stories, in a bid to inspire and empower others.

The Instagram account ‘Qyssa’, which means story in Arabic, was co-founded by Pakistani Women’s Association (PWA) president Shahmeen Islam and her friend Saba Saleem Warsi, a talented graphic designer and tech entrepreneur.

“Saba and I knew each other for more than a decade,” said Shahmeen, who is an architect, a creator of change and a believer in the power of philanthropy. She has been PWA’s president three years running - a charity organisation which she says is ‘very close to her heart’ and she has been living in Bahrain for 13 years.

“We came together to bring forward inspiring stories of women, predominantly Pakistanis,” she told GulfWeekly.

“Qyssa, in association with our media partners Platform Productions, is a positive Pakistani narrative project and true stories can inspire, encourage, comfort and even bring about change. I want to bring home your story, whatever it may be, and I want to uplift your name as a strong Pakistani inspiring woman of today.”

The duo also intend to include Pakistani and Bahraini culture, food and common aspirations.

The newly-formed Instagram account’s first fierce female is Yasmeen Lari. She is Pakistan’s first female architect and is best known for her involvement in the intersection of architecture and social justice. She is also this year’s winner of the Royal Institute of British Architects Royal Gold medal.

“Qyssa is my way of deepening connection with my homeland and helping other Pakistani women overseas to do the same,” said Saba, who describes herself on the account as a mother, an artist and cat lover. “It’s a way to find belonging and your tribe. I’m so excited to meet other wonderful Pakistani women on this journey and provide a platform to amplify your stories.”

They are also planning to launch a podcast soon, and other stories to come include talented artist Thajba Najeeb and Pakistan’s first professionally trained female tabla player residing in Bahrain, Leena Ahmed.

In the meantime, Shahmeen will continue her philanthropy work with the PWA, which is a charitable and welfare organisation that has evolved and thrived since its inception in 1998.

“For the past five years, I’ve been associated with PWA and it continues to grow,” said Shahmeen.

“I’ve been diligently working over the years on several projects that includes an education scholarship fund for deserving students as well as a Youth Ambassadors Programme that enables students to ‘give back to the community’.

“During my current term as a head of PWA, I’m aiming to increase membership to enable the association to have a bigger reach.

“My heart is with philanthropy and I plan to initiate mentorship for individuals and the corporate sector with organised Corporate Social Responsibility methodologies.”

For details, follow @qyssa_ on Instagram.

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