Ayesha Noor Fatima was raised in a single-parent household in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Throughout her childhood, she observed the enormous financial, emotional, and physical struggle that her mother underwent to raise her. These struggles coupled with her mother’s sheer resilience carefully curated Ayesha’s understanding of the power of the female gender and led to the formation of Project Darakshan.
Project Darakshan is a social entrepreneurship venture that focuses on empowering marginalized women, the transgender community, and other related vulnerable groups in Pakistan. Project Darakshan was initially created to connect marginalized women together to form a support group where they could access means to financial and social empowerment. Since the project’s conception in September 2019, it has grown substantially. Project Darakshan has reached national forums such as Shaoor Foundation and Peace without Borders Pakistan. It has also expanded and extended its support to similar causes in Cameroon Africa. Through the Project Darakshan platform, campaigns were designed for the establishment of female support groups and anti-gender violence groups. These campaigns were launched with the Cameroon Association of Active Youths (CAMMAY), Africa via the United Nations Volunteer Program. CAMMAY has also requested collaboration with Project Darakshan in establishing a network of support groups to connect women in Pakistan and Cameroon.
Further, Project Darakshan is steadily becoming an advocacy springboard for the transgender population in Pakistan. This community has traditionally been alienated in Pakistan and has faced rejection from family, friends, and society at large. They are also at an increased risk for violence, sexual abuse, depression, and higher suicide rates.
As this project grows and furthers, Ayesha finds herself relying on leadership lessons from the Millennium Fellowship. One of the most valuable lessons that she took away from the Fellowship was that every drop counts and that every action can leave an impact on society.
The Millennium Fellowship helped me turn my passion into a reality. It gave me the motivation and strength to start my own initiative where I could work for a cause that is much more beyond than my own self. The training at the onset of the Fellowship provided me a strong grounding to assume a leadership role while taking up a community initiative and contributing my share for the uplift of my community.
It provided me an effective international platform that linked me up with youth who were equally passionate as I was towards contributing to their communities. Their success stories and persistence provided me a vigor to pursue my project and gave me valuable insights as to how I can further broaden my project in near future.
So far, with the support and the platform of the Millennium Fellowship, Ayesha expects to see even more growth for this project. She hopes that Project Darakshan can one day become a leading non-profit that champions the rights of marginalized women and vulnerable groups in Pakistan.