Pakistan: Fighting for Girls' Education

Fatima Zaidi

Fatima Zaidi

Meet Fatima Zaidi, a native of Lahore, Pakistan, currently pursuing her master's degree in Counseling Education, at the University of Pennsylvania.

A passion for educating children runs in her family; her grandfather founded a school and provided free education to children in the community who could otherwise not afford it. Her involvement with this school included visits to the homes of families with daughters --to encourage the extension of formal education prior to marriage. 

After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in economics and management at the London School of Economics, Fatima taught grades 8-9 in a girls’ school, where she provided both academic and emotional support. Her desire to guide the young women of her country led her to pursue mental health education and school counseling.

Fatima arrived at the University of Pennsylvania only to discover that her anticipated scholarship had fallen through. This setback did not deter Fatima, however.  She placed the attainment of her degree above all else, and worked with the university to solve this impediment. Although she eventually received a scholarship from the university, Fatima also sought loans from friends, and set up a GoFundMe account to finance the shortfall. 

She has attained a 4.0 GPA, while juggling the responsibilities of being an undergraduate Resident Advisor, a practicum counseling student, and working part-time in a university mentoring program. One of her professors vouches for Fatima's demonstration of exceptional leadership, and considers her the "highest quality counseling education student" at the university.

MMEG awarded Fatima a grant in 2016. She will use this to cover tuition and living expenses for her second and final year. After obtaining her master's degree, Fatima plans to work in a female-centered institution, as well as to introduce accredited counseling and teaching programs in Pakistan where school counseling is almost non-existent; she will also continue to help at her grandfather’s school. 

Fatima Zaidi with students of the Grammar School in Lahore

Margaret McNamara Education Grants is excited to assist Fatima in realizing her dream of changing the lives of young girls in her home country.

by Hope Phillips