In 2017, I made a short social media film called Rising Girl that shed light on how difficult life is for girls in Pakistan who want to go to school. The film led me to set up the charity, Rising Girl, where we help to educate girls in the UK and soon Pakistan.
When I started Rising Girl, I had minimal experience of being a leader. As a journalist, my profession doesn't give me a lot of opportunities to lead as you would in an organization or business – it's a different type of leadership and skill set.
Through the Pakistani Diaspora programme, I found the confidence and learned new ways to become a progressive leader but also how to adapt my skills and make sure my voice is heard and respected.
Learning from other diaspora leaders
I shared my struggles as a new diaspora leader during our learning group discussions on the programme. The diversity of the participants in the group – doctors, entrepreneurs, public servants, psychologists, to name a few – gave me fresh perspectives on how to navigate the challenges of being a new and different type of leader. They shared their own leadership journey, which helped me to set attainable goals for myself – such as developing a 12 and 24 month sustainability plan.
Leaning in to our diaspora network
The network I gained from the programme and the wider Pakistani diaspora alumni is invaluable. If it weren’t for the programme, I would never have met Shumailla Dar, who is now the Vice Chair for Rising Girl. Shumailla has over fifteen years of policy experience in both central and local government, working on a range of policies, including education, youth violence, economic development and regeneration.
Through the Common Purpose diaspora network, I also met Faraz Khan, a seed funder based in Pakistan. Faraz and other leaders like him have been instrumental in helping Rising Girl move forward.
The Pakistani Diaspora Leaders Programme helped me find my voice and gain confidence as a diaspora leader. It gave me access to the wider Pakistani diaspora community and inspired me to do more within that community.
Emb Hashmi is an award-winning journalist who works for the BBC. She is also an ambassador for the She Awards that recognize and reward inspirational women. She has been featured in 100 Women Stories to uplift, empower and inspire. She has also developed a response to Covid-19 for Rising Girl and is working with the Birmingham Education Partnership to get used laptops donated to disadvantaged girls who cannot get online to continue their education as schools are closed.