Carrying The Torch

Tanzila Khan with Amal Clooney
Tanzila Khan with Amal Clooney

The female activist and entrepreneur is lauded for her efforts on increasing women’s access to menstrual, pregnancy and reproductive health products.

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Published: Sun 14 Aug 2022, 12:00 AM

The Amal Clooney Women’s Empowerment Award is based on the impressive list of achievements by the internationally renowned humanitarian lawyer. In a shining moment for Pakistan, Tanzila Khan, a local disability rights activist and entrepreneur, won the first-ever Amal Clooney Women’s Empowerment Award at the Prince’s Trust Awards 2022. The Princes Trust is a charity organisation founded by Charles, the Prince of Wales and the objective of the Awards is to provide financial assistance and enable the youth to further their entrepreneurial efforts.

What makes the win even more impressive is that Tanzila, who is unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair, never let her disability stand in the way of her dreams. Born in Sialkot, Tanzila took control of her destiny and wrote her narrative just the way she wanted to by working effortlessly to broaden the world of opportunities for young girls and differently-abled people around Pakistan. The first step she took in her journey was when, at the age of 16, Tanzila wrote her first book, A Story of Mexico.

According to her website, the author’s flair for writing led her to publish and sell her books so that she could invest in her community projects regarding women empowerment and differently-abled people. As her passion for the work stoked the fire inside her, Tanzila’s effort towards inclusivity manifested in the form of her entrepreneurial endeavour, GirlyThingsPk, which is a mobile application that aims to break down barriers faced by differently-abled females, allowing them to order their hygiene kits online due to the lack of equitable services offered in shops. The activist also made headlines in 2021 with her visit to Egypt alongside Zargoona Wadood and Afshan Afridi, a solo trip by three women in wheelchairs to show a new face of disability.

Tanzila’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by the international community. For Pakistan, she had managed to bring a positive and progressive spotlight and her empowerment projects have made waves, providing support and creating inclusive environments for those who are differently-abled and young girls, winning her this year’s Amal Clooney Women’s Empowerment Award. The activist received the accolade at the The Prince’s Trust Awards in London on Tuesday for her work on the menstrual hygiene app GirlyThings.

The whole world is in awe of this young girl, who is not willing to let her circumstances hold her back. According to the Times, Clooney shared why she’d chosen Khan for the award, saying, “I could sense the grit and I loved that she’s not waiting for other people to fix global issues.”

“Step aside, Amazon,” Clooney had joked, “hers arrive in 20 minutes.”

Taking to Twitter, Tanzila Khan shared the exciting news saying “Pakistan yeh aapkey liye! (Pakistan, this is for you!)” It is a breath of fresh air to see a young female, taking the reins of fate in her own hands and making the nation proud.

While was Tanzila’s initiative to make menstrual hygiene products accessible for everyone no matter the circumstances won her a lot of accolades, she is not ready to rest on her laurels just yet. Since its release, the app has gotten notable praise, previously being awarded the 2018 Summit Award, but Tanzila has yet to celebrate her award as she’s already focused on the next step to better the world.

“The thing is that anybody who is extremely serious about the work that they do and the type of opportunity that they want to bring to their country, probably cannot enjoy an experience because they’re constantly thinking about the way forward. They’re constantly thinking about connecting resources with opportunities. So, though I am in this amazing space with amazing people, I am constantly thinking about how we can leverage this opportunity as much as we can, ” she said.

“So, I still need to take a break and enjoy some afternoon tea but before that I have to do a lot of work around this award,” she added

But that did not mean that she did not soak in the praise. Khan shared the joyous moment on her social media, sharing herself getting ready by the Charlotte Tilbury team and getting caught in the rain on her way to the awards. And we all lived vicariously through her.

“I got to do a red carpet for the first time in my life! It was great. As a woman with a disability, as someone with a hijab, to be on the red carpet, posing, presenting a fashion sense, presenting my cause and my country. That was exciting and I loved it and I was trying not to get my wheelchair tangled. That’s also something I have to consider all the time,” she said.

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