Sehrish Naseem
Sehrish Naseem
Project Officer and 2016 Andi Parhamovich Fellow

Sehrish Naseem, the 2016 recipient of the Andi Parhamovich Fellowship, is a dedicated young professional working as a Project Manager with the National Democratic Institute in Pakistan, where she has worked for nearly five years to support a wide-range of democracy and governance programs. In her time at NDI, she has supported a training fellowship program, and has worked with political parties to launch formal training units within parties at the provincial level. Currently, Sehrish is working with political parties on policy development as part of a larger Political Parties Development Program.  Previously, she worked as a coordinator for the Islamabad Foreign Women’s Association, where she organized and managed fundraising events for flood victims and under privileged students. Additionally, she was part of a cultural exchange program sponsored by the British Council, where she was exposed to western culture, democracy, and western government systems. The Exchange program gave her the opportunity to work towards community development in Multan (Pakistan) and support HIV/AIDS initiatives in Mombasa (Kenya) and climate compatible development in Manchester (UK).  Sehrish enjoys working with political parties and civil society activists, and promoting women's political participation in her home country.

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Women’s Political Equality in Pakistan: Not an Impossible Mission

Sehrish Naseem gives a speech at NDI's annual Madeleine K. Albright Luncheon in 2016.

How did I come to understand what has become my mission in life? Well, I come from a social context in Pakistan where, like in all developing countries, women’s vision and committed approach to a practical life goes through tough challenges. It can even start within a woman’s own family. Fortunately, my family stood by my ambition of joining social work as a profession.

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Papa said: “Set a benchmark for the women in our community”

Sehrish Naseem, the 2016 Andi Parhamovich Fellow, at Marietta College Speaking about Young Pakistani Women Leading Transition in Their Society.

One day at breakfast when I was 23 years old I asked my father, “Papa, why is not aunty considering to contest the general elections, even though she is an active member of our community?” A smile appeared on his face and replied, “because if she does our community will stop considering her a woman.” My aunt was not a politician, but as an opinionated and socially active woman with a deep understanding of the issues facing Pakistan, I thought she should be. This was the moment I came to believe that democracy cannot exist without empowered women. And empowerment comes through women’s access to education, health, and employment because it creates space for them to play an active political role.

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