During the two-day workshop, participants noted that the dominant mindset can be changed through education and training aimed at promoting women’s empowerment.
In a world teeming with medical and wellness experts, EmpowerHer 2023 appeared like a refreshing dawn on a Wednesday morning at Movenpick Karachi. His mission ? Reshuffling the cards and challenging preconceived ideas about women’s health and well-being in Pakistan.
SEED Ventures led the way earlier this year with its sustainability platform, “What’s the Alternative” (WTA), focused on environment, wellness and lifestyle. Notably, journalist and events host Sidra Iqbal captured the essence of the WTA when she spoke about recognizing challenges and the art of thinking outside the box.
Dr. Tasnim Ahsan, a leading internist and endocrinologist, took the stage to call for a fundamental shift in our perception of women’s well-being. She proposed a holistic definition of health: “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease”.
Her “wheel of health” for women encompassed physical health, sexual health, reproductive health, mental health, medical screening, immunizations and work-life balance.
Shaista Ayesha, CEO of SEED Ventures, highlighted the limitations of traditional paradigms that classify women as mere birthing vessels. Ayesha emphasized the importance of seeking alternatives when conventional approaches fail, a view embedded in “What’s the Alternative.” During a panel discussion on nutrition, bone health and mental wellbeing, consultant dietitian Sidrah Iqbal highlighted the interconnectedness of mental and physical health. She warned against indiscriminate supplementation and stressed the need to seek help from experts.
Dr Ashar Ekhlaq Ahmed, a respected rheumatologist, highlighted the prevalence of rheumatological disorders in women and the often overlooked threat of osteoporosis, which remains painless until a bone breaks. He stressed the importance of timely screenings and lifestyle changes.
ReadWhen will Pakistan achieve women’s protection and empowerment?
In a discussion on modifiable risk factors for women’s bone health, event moderator Sidra Iqbal focuses on smoking with rheumatologist Dr. Ashar Ekhlaq Ahmed. Dr Ahmed presents an alternative approach to lifestyle changes, highlighting evidence supporting alternatives to quitting smoking altogether. It emphasizes that incremental, incremental changes can lead to substantial improvements in health.
Sanam Saeed, a famous Pakistani starlet, added a personal touch, emphasizing the importance of reading food labels and self-education.
Dr. Sana Siddiqui, psychiatrist, redefined stress as anything that exerts pressure, emphasizing the need for mindfulness to identify and manage stressors.
The discussion moved to motherhood, introduced by Sidra, who highlighted the profound transformation that mothers undergo.
Dr Huma Aamer Haquani called for a focus on healthy pregnancy rather than just conception, advocating pre-pregnancy counseling to assess the readiness of both partners.
Model and actress Sunita Marshall has shared her journey of body changes and self-improvement after giving birth.
Yoga teacher Zarmina Faisal Salman challenged societal taboos surrounding pregnancy and exercise, promoting self-care and recovery of strength.
EmpowerHer 2023 was more than an event; it was a platform for women to candidly discuss their holistic wellness. By offering alternatives and new perspectives, it has redefined the path to women’s well-being, ultimately enabling them to approach life with renewed vigor.
The writer is a Pakistani-Canadian content creator who has written extensively about Pakistan, with a particular focus on sustainability. His work has appeared in Pakistani and North American publications.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th2023.