Faces in the Crowd – Empowering Young Women Around The World

Posted on October 19, 2017 under Faces in the Crowd with one comment


“ People in Antigonish believe in equality and equal opportunity.”

Meet Hina Shehzadi.

Hina and her four siblings were born in Lyari, Karachi, Pakistan. Her father was an auto mechanic. Their mother never had the opportunity to attend school as a child and wanted better for her children. Getting a good education became a priority.

Lyari was a tough part of the city with violence ever present. Hina witnessed injustices perpetrated on the citizenry including women and children. These experiences motivated her at an early age to want to help those in need.

School became her entire focus. There weren’t a lot of opportunities in the school system for anything other than the basics. Extracurricular activities were non existent.  In High School, Hina took courses in economics, commerce and computers with an eye to an MBA and future employment in a bank.

Upon graduation in 2009, she volunteered with a non profit group to try and get her foot in the door for future employment. This led to a job with a local Women’s Resource Centre where her focus was on sexual and reproductive health rights of women and young girls. Her work took her to many rural villages in Pakistan where she quickly discovered that there are always people far worse off than yourself.

In 2011 she decided to do a Masters program. In order to make this happen, she worked at a full time job during the day and took public transportation to the university in the evening. Traveling alone as a woman, late at night was an uncomfortable and unnerving experience. She received a Masters in Sociology in 2013. After completing her studies she accepted a Legislative Fellowship in the United States . Most of the time was spent in North Carolina where she got to see some top notch American universities. The idea of getting a PhD. became a long range goal.

She returned home to continue her work with the Women’s Resource Centre. She traveled to Nepal and Thailand presenting papers and doing research on several aspects of women’s rights. In 2015, she traveled to Montreal, Canada to attend the training done by Equitas. One of the stated objectives of Equitas is “ advancing equality, social justice and respect for human dignity in Canada and around the world, through education. “ While in Montreal she met someone who told her about the Coady Institute in Antigonish.

In 2016, she was accepted into the Diploma program. Having spent most of her life in big cities, the drive from Stanfield airport in the dark of night was somewhat disconcerting. All she could see were trees on either side of the highway. She wondered what she had gotten herself into.

She quickly discovered that for all of the apparent differences between Pakistan and Nova Scotia, the one thing that was similar was that Antigonish was family oriented . She immediately felt welcome and supported by the people at Coady and the broader community. “ People seemed genuinely interested in me and were willing to learn more about me and my country.” She found the Diploma program both practical and useful. One of the highlights of her stay was the awarding of an Awesome Antigonish Foundation grant for “ An International Evening With Coady participants” held at St. James United Church.

But her studies were far from over. Encouraged by Joanne Tompkins, she decided to enroll in the Masters of Education program at St.F.X and began the next chapter of her education in January of 2017. The focus of her thesis is a comparative analysis of curriculums in Nova Scotia and Karachi in regards to attitudes of young women to sexual and bodily rights.

Hina’s long term goal remains the attainment of a PhD. and she would like to end up teaching in Canada.

In Pakistan, most women cannot go out of their homes without a good reason like work or schooling. Her freedom of movement in Antigonish has spurred her into wanting to learn how to ride a bicycle.

This bright, engaging woman from Pakistan has the potential to be a “ global change leader” and improve the lot of young women  across continents.






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