Disagreeing with ‘Women’s Empowerment’

October 2015, I attended the Women’s Achievers Congress hosted by World Congress Of Overseas Pakistanis #WCOP, in London. The panel discussions consisted of several incredible ladies, from a female cricketer, barrister, entrepreneurs, politicians and fashion/branding experts. Listening to these women was truly inspirational for me. Observing the men in attendance being supportive was affirming the positive trend currently developing.


When it came time for my panel, we covered a number of topics including perceptions and the role of women in the future. During this discussion I explain why I don’t believe in the words: ‘Women’s Empowerment’.

Essentially, women must go forth and DO. Not wait for others to empower them.

Remember the French philosopher Descartes, “Cogito ergo Sum”, “I think therefore I am”? Well, I flip that… I AM, therefore I THINK. I don’t wait for perceptions of others to help formulate my opinion regarding who I am and what I should do. I don’t wait for media bias to help instruct me on my life, where I should travel, places I should avoid, people I should be fearful of.

I am a humanitarian, I am a philanthropist, I am a knowledge seeker. My actions set the stage around me, and expanding thoughts develop from my actions. I learn from my actions. Experiential learning, learning from experiences help shape who we are, and who we are destined to become.

If I waited for someone to “empower” me to produce ‘Emerging Face Of Pakistan’, no doubt I would be waiting years for the opportunity to unveil itself! Instead, I chose to take a risk and show people by my actions, not simply my words, what I intend to do.

As my mother used to say, “Actions speak louder than words.”

‘Women’s Empowerment’ suggests women are weak and need to be given power by others. That they are dependent on others to give them this empowerment.Women must be interested in taking the initiative, to empower themselves. And when required, those of us who are stronger can help uplift those in need. Women’s Empowerment should not be a ‘crutch’. Like a weak muscle, this mindset needs to be worked, stretched and challenged in order for it to grow stronger.

There is an irony in the words ‘Women’s Empowerment’… women don’t need others to help make them stronger. We don’t need to become dependent on a crutch. We are strong, we are empowered. It’s time for us to remember who we are, as doers, as thinkers and world leaders.


A Multi-Flag DP

Part of the reason for this blog is because of the ‘selective humanity’ I see on other sites I ultimately don’t have complete control over. It’s truly sad when FB does not allow one to grieve in their own way for any country around the world suffering from the menace of terrorism or the like.

For our brothers and sisters in ‪#‎Afghanistan‬, ‪#‎Egypt‬, ‪#‎France‬, ‪#‎Indonesia‬,‪#‎Iraq‬, ‪#‎Lebanon‬, ‪#‎Myanmar‬, ‪#‎Nigeria‬, ‪#‎Pakistan‬, ‪#‎Palestine‬, ‪#‎Syria‬,‪#‎Yemen‬. Prayers are simply not enough. Global citizens must take action to help promote ‪#‎peace‬ and ‪#‎tolerance‬ within our global society, beginning with welcoming refugees into our homes where practically possible; and extensive training and education for ALL parties to understand the cultures and faiths of the affected peoples. We must hold our governments accountable for ensuring the status of the refugees’ homeland returns to its peaceful origins as soon as possible, so the refugees may have the option to return to their countries and live in a peaceful manner befitting their cultures and belief systems, with ‪#‎dignity‬ and ‪#‎honour‬.

Original statement on FB prior to having my own ‘multi-flag’ DP created:

 I try not to use this account for political statements, as I prefer to share interesting images and optimistic media from places the West ignores. However, I feel compelled to say this: While I am extraordinarily saddened by the events in these recent ‪#‎Paris‬ attacks, perhaps I am even more upset by the lack of support I see (and perhaps I am wrong, perhaps I have simply overlooked it- I would love to be wrong in this case) for the peoples who have suffered in ‪#‎Afghanistan‬, ‪#‎Iraq‬ and ‪#‎Syria‬… the victims of a ‘war’ in their own homelands. Beyond the deeper, politically motivated heinous actions of larger States, on a more superficial level, where most of us can voice our opinion and perhaps have a little impact, it would have been nice to have the option to show our social media support for these people, as I have been able to do for Paris on my other ‪#‎FB‬ account.

Mark Zuckerberg, where was the DP change option for the Army Public School Massacre in ‪#‎Pakistan‬? Or ‪#‎Palestine‬? Or ‪#‎Beirut‬? Or the anti ISIS DP change for Syria? Or Iraq?

Mr. Obama why was the White House not illuminated in support in these instances? For the children who were slaughtered in Peshawar? In fact, let’s illuminate the White House in red to remind us of the many innocents who die on a daily basis now… and keep it red until the USA takes corrective measures to ensure these countries are returned to the people they belong to, and USA helps rebuild any critical infrastructure that was destroyed, and the menace, including the root cause, of ISIS/ISIL -whatever the hell you want to call these animals- are eliminated.

multiflag DP

Emerging Face Of Pakistan

A documentary reality series featuring a foreigner, Cynthia Ritchie, encountering unique adventures as she journeys through Pakistan.

Countless people were involved in this international collaboration, and we still have much to do in ‪#‎Pakistan‬. Many provided support in tangible ways, while others quietly supported behind the scenes. All are remembered in my prayers.

Pakistan is always an ‪#‎adventure‬: akin to riding a roller coaster at an amusement park- there are ups and downs. One knows going in to anticipate the unexpected.

There are many who view Pakistan through a negative lens- without ever having visited the country. Why should I follow suit, and replicate what so many have done before? This is not to say we ignore concerns, and this is not to say Pakistan is perfect. No country is perfect. ‪#‎America‬ is not perfect.

On the people-to-people level, I believe if we want change, we must model behaviours conducive to an environment of change. Most Pakistanis in the rural areas have never been to America and rarely get a chance to meet Americans, to see how ‪#‎generous‬ and ‪#‎friendly‬ most Americans really are; all they ‘know’ is what is shown on the news. How unfortunate would it be to spend your life distrusting or hating another ‪#‎culture‬ without ever having known how ‪#‎hospitable‬ the vast majority of the people really are.

In this adventure documentary reality series, we will avoid politics and bureaucracy as much as possible. We will focus on the 95% of Pakistan that is rarely seen. We intend to show the rural life and the modern technologies; the tonga (donkey) carts and sports car races; the mud huts,‪#‎archaeological‬ sites and the brand new malls/skyscrapers; the ‪#‎ICT‬ and‪#‎telemedicine‬ technologies used for education and training; all the while taking a foodie/cultural tour through the country. I love my Doodh Patti!

The ‪#‎Diaspora‬ will play a critical role in this journey as well: from Los Angeles to NYC and beyond, we will include conversations from Pakistani’s all over the world, sharing their involvement in the development of their home country.



A Visit To GIKI; Peshawar, Pakistan.

A weekend with some of the most amazing engineering students and faculty I’ve ever met. From a dance party rave, to poetry readings, to public speaking engagements, March 2015 was truly a memorable experience for me with these students in Topi, Pakistan. Fashion Designer, Yousuf Bashir Qureshi (YBQ) was the Chief Guest, and I was the Guest Of Honor.

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Pakistani Fashion- Modeling For A Good Cause

I believe it is important to give back to our local and global communities. Charity/empowerment is an importation function of any great society. Occasionally, I will lend my image to worthy causes. And the images below show initiatives benefiting two great causes: Paper Miracles & SIMI J Collection.

Paper Miracles: A jewelry line made out of paper mache, and by women with spinal injuries sustained in the massive earthquake of 2005. To learn more visit: http://www.papermiracles.com





Below: The SIMI J Collection.

SIMI J Collection: The shawls I wear, benefit livelihoods of women from Kashmir to Swat, Pakistan, giving them an opportunity to earn an income to sustain them and their families. To learn more visit https://www.facebook.com/SimiJcollection/?fref=ts