When I first heard about APPNA, I thought it was only a cultural group that focused on fashion and matrimonial services. I was less than motivated to attend my first meeting as an intern because I was more interested in social justice and utilizing medicine to transform people’s lives. I was unbelievably pleasantly surprised when I walked by a table with four lovely women who were promoting WAPPNA, Women of APPNA. These empowered women were talking about female empowerment and social justice for Pakistan and the world, while also helping young female physicians, like myself. I immediately signed up and have remained with WAPPNA for the last 12 years.
Being born and raised in America, I had a connection to Pakistan but there wasn’t the deep affinity that my mother and community had, who grew up in Pakistan. I knew about the sad human rights stories and some of my family lived there, but nothing more. WAPPNA shined a new light on the country and its people that was one of hope and opportunity. Here are strong, empowered female physicians who take care of their families while also striving for creating opportunities and providing health services to those in our communities and back in Pakistan. Like my mother, they are proud of their heritage while standing up for what is right against ignorance and uninformed cultural norms. We have worked on multiple issues: advocacy as American-Pakistanis, reproductive health and sexual violence, what is empowerment, etc.
In this current climate of racism and intolerance, I want to encourage women of Pakistani heritage in healthcare to join WAPPNA and work with us to continue this struggle for health and social justice that is grounded in values and faith. We can transform our current organizations to reflect who we are and promote a vision where women are empowered and societies are healthier and stronger.
Marium Husain, MD, MPH