During the two-day workshop, participants noted that prevailing mindset can be changed through education and training to promote female empowerment.


In a world brimming with medical and wellness experts, EmpowerHer 2023 emerged as a refreshing dawn on a Wednesday morning at Movenpick Karachi. Its mission? To reshuffle the deck and challenge conventional wisdom regarding women’s health and well-being in Pakistan.

SEED Ventures set the stage earlier this year with its sustainability platform, “What’s the Alternative” (WTA), focusing on the environment, wellness, and lifestyle. Notably, journalist and event host Sidra Iqbal captured the essence of WTA when she spoke of recognising challenges and the art of thinking outside the box.

Dr Tasnim Ahsan, a distinguished internist and endocrinologist, took the stage with a call for a fundamental shift in our perception of women’s wellness. She offered a holistic definition of health: “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease.”

Her “wheel of health” for women encompassed physical health, sexual health, reproductive health, mental health, health screening, immunisations, and life-work balance.

SEED Ventures’ CEO Shaista Ayesha illuminated the limitations of traditional paradigms that pigeonhole women as mere birthing vessels. Ayesha emphasised the importance of seeking alternatives when conventional approaches falter, a vision embedded in “What’s the Alternative.” In a panel discussion on nutrition, bone health, and mental wellness, consultant dietitian Sidrah Iqbal underscored the interconnectedness of mental and physical health. She cautioned against blind supplementation and highlighted the need for expert guidance.

Dr Ashar Ekhlaq Ahmed, a respected rheumatologist, emphasised the prevalence of rheumatological disorders in women and the often-neglected menace of osteoporosis, which remains painless until a bone breaks. He emphasised the significance of timely screenings and lifestyle changes.


When will Pakistan attain women protection and empowerment?

During a discussion on modifiable risk factors for women’s bone health, event host Sidra Iqbal emphasises smoking with rheumatologist Dr Ashar Ekhlaq Ahmed. Dr Ahmed introduces an alternative approach to lifestyle changes, highlighting evidence supporting alternatives to quitting smoking altogether. He stresses that gradual, incremental changes can lead to substantial improvements in health.

Sanam Saeed, a celebrated Pakistani starlet, brought a personal touch, stressing the importance of reading food labels and self-education.

Dr Sana Siddiqui, a psychiatrist, redefined stress as anything that exerts pressure, emphasising the need for mindfulness to identify and manage stressors.

The discussion shifted towards motherhood, introduced by Sidra, who noted the profound transformation mothers undergo.

Dr Huma Aamer Haquani called for a focus on achieving a healthy pregnancy rather than mere conception, advocating pre-pregnancy counseling to assess the readiness of both partners.

Model and actress Sunita Marshall shared her journey of post-baby body changes and self-improvement.

Yoga teacher Zarmina Faisal Salman challenged societal taboos surrounding pregnancy and exercise, promoting self-care and strength recovery.

EmpowerHer 2023 was more than an event; it was a platform for women to candidly discuss their holistic well-being. By offering alternatives and fresh perspectives, it redefined the path to women’s wellness, ultimately empowering them to approach life with renewed vigour.

The writer is a Pakistani-Canadian content creator who has written extensively about Pakistan with a particular focus on sustainability. Her work has appeared in Pakistani and North American publications

Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2023.

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