Growing up in the lanes of Hyderabad, Pakistan, Anum Ali Laghari was motivated to bring about a positive change and has ever since wanted to impact the marginalized group of society. When this realization dawned, she went about setting up a non-profit organization, I Help – Touching Souls, while still doing her graduate studies.

Hailing from a privileged family, Anum grew up dreaming about being a social activist to help as many as possible. Lifting others and transforming their lives helped her turn her dream into reality. She started her social services journey to help the one in need without any greed or wanting anything in return.

Being a woman, Anum had to overcome numerous challenges. Born in a country where there is no debate over the fact that men are given unfair advantages over women under unquestionable circumstances, Anum fought through it all not just for herself but also for other aspiring women. Unofficial policies exist in private and government institutions regarding hiring women, as it is a common belief that they will either get married and quit or take days off or leave during their maternity periods. According to Anum, this bias is downright discrimination, and she feels that it robs women of many excellent opportunities.

Highly inspired by her father, Anum feels that he has always been a source of support throughout all her projects.  His Edhi Foundation runs the world’s largest volunteer ambulance network, homeless shelters, animal shelters, rehab centres, and orphanages across Pakistan.

Because sharing is caring

Currently working on two social causes – Educating underprivileged students, who can’t afford formal and non-formal education, and working for women’s reproductive rights; her non-profit organisation (NPO) is running a charitable Street School.

According to Pakistan government estimates, around 22.8 million children in the age group of 5-16 are out of school. Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of children out of school due to a lack of economic resources, which Anum is trying her very best to change.

The charitable school was established in April 2017 with the help of her friends and family, and it has served more than 250 students thus far. At present, 45 students are enrolled in the school, provided with free formal and non-formal education, and medical assistance when required.  The school also provides stationery and books to the students.

With regards to Women’s Reproductive Rights, Anum is working with Marie Stopes Society on providing awareness and services on reproductive health rights and family planning to the vulnerable women. She works as District Manager, Operations at Marie Stopes Society. “It’s my paid job, but for a cause, I supervise around 25 staff members of my team and our private service providers, including lady doctors, nurses, and paramedics in my district.”, she says.

Being a lady boss in a man’s world

Being a leader hasn’t been easy for Anum. It involves setting the right example and being a role model. She feels that as a leader, it is essential for their teams to act and perform. All eyes are on this leader, watching their every move as they set the team’s expectations. Anum adds that if the leadership team is smartly dressed and punctual, then this will encourage the team to replicate this behaviour. The team will look at the captain’s willingness to roll up their sleeves and get involved to achieve the team goals. Being a good role model for a business is vital if one wants their team members to be as professional.

A moment of immense pride for Anum was when she witnessed her charitable school’s students, starting to write and read the sentences written in the English language. She felt like she had achieved her objective. For her, the definition of a successful woman is a happy woman. She thinks that when one is satisfied and happy from what they are doing, they are genuinely successful.

For fellow aspiring entrepreneurs, the only thing Anum wishes to say is to have concrete goals; and not to be afraid to fail. She asserts that failures are undeniable proof that one has taken the necessary risks in their journey.