MGYW’s 2013 Annual Banquet: It’s All about Empowerment
ByFarhana Mohamed, MBA, PhD
Pictures by Anwar Khawaja and Ruby Faruqi

Since 2000, MGYW (Pakistani American Forum - Merit Grants for Young Women) has been successfully providing educational opportunities to young Pakistani women belonging to families making $2 to $3 per day and residing in urban slums or remote rural areas. In Pakistan, only 75% (81% of boys and 67% of girls) are enrolled in primary schools; whereas, the global average is 90%. Overall, gender literacy gap is as high as 30% and MGYW is striving to fill this gap.

Thousands of girls have benefited from MGYW’s focused approach with several girls graduating from school and college and are now gainfully employed. MGYW does not build new schools but reaches all four provinces of Pakistan by collaborating with renowned NGOs and respected local community residents. These reputable organizations have a network of over 22,000 students - with a majority of female enrollment.

MGYW’s 1013 annual fundraising banquet was held at the Knott’s Berry Farm Resort Hotel in Southern California. The program was emceed by Raeesa Tarr and Yumnah Syed, two promising young emerging leaders with active involvement with local non-profit youth-oriented organizations.

The program started with an opening statement by MGYW Board President Iram Iqbal followed by young Farhan Kamdar conducting impressive Qur'anic recitation with English translation. Chief Guest, Consul Dr Khalid Ejaz, highlighted the importance of education of girls and Pakistani government’s efforts in improving literacy and spreading education despite limited resources and many challenges. He went over MGYW’s mission and commended the Board Members for bringing positive changes to many young women’s lives. He added that MGYW and other NGOs are playing an important role in uplifting the status of education in Pakistan and filling the gap left due to limited government resources. The keynote speaker, Dr Sana U. Khan, an accomplished radiologist and a respected philanthropist, eloquently described how (Bibi) Hajar, a highly revered figure in Islam, single-handedly and courageously struggled to raise Ismail - son of Prophet Ibrahim and great grandfather of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). Dr. Sana Khan thus correlated the role of enlightened mothers in raising their children and the importance of education in preparing young women for a lead role in nurturing their families as well as pursuing their careers, if necessary. Both Dr Ejaz and Dr Sana Khan urged the guests to donate generously in support of MGYW’s mission and goals.

These speeches were followed by Dr Farhana Mohamed’s presentation highlighting MGYW’s mission, accomplishments, and new projects undertaken during the preceding year. Some of the significant projects which she described included Haripur Transportation, Sagri District Graduation Incentive, Karachi Gift Pack, and Laboratory/Library setup at Hamida Shaukat Ali Girls High School, Kot Shera, Punjab.

The fundraising segment was conducted by Shaista Khan, Dr Bina Kamdar, and Shaheen Awan. They successfully and passionately motivated the guests who made generous donations toward various MGYW projects spread throughout Pakistan’s four provinces. The event also included silent and live auction of variety of items spearheaded by Bina Kamdar, Abida Ahmed, Shaheen Awan, Tasneem Afzal, and Sufia Altaf. The auctioned items included selective outfits, jewelry, paintings, and gift certificates donated by local businesses, individuals, and the MGYW Board. The musical entertainment was comprised of vocal renditions by accomplished young Amit Pujari and Rahis Khan with famed Suresh Kumar performing on tabla. Amit is a talented professionally trained vocalist in ghazals and oldies; whereas, Rahis and Suresh entertained the crowd with popular songs until midnight.

The program was memorable in all aspects and the MGYW Board Members who put tremendous effort included Abida Ahmed, Tasneem Afzal, Sufia Altaf, Shaheen Awan, Iram Iqbal, Bina Kamdar, Shaista Khan, Farhana Mohamed, and Zille Huma Zaman. The Board is profoundly grateful to the event sponsors (Pakistan Link, Safeer-e-Pakistan, Infinity Care, and Islamic Relief USA), generous donors and volunteers for their support. The Link readers are requested to visit MGYW website ( ) and on the Facebook ( for more details and feedback.


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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