Nayab Ali, a transgender woman, has made history by becoming the first Pakistani to be nominated for GALAS, an international award that honours those who work for a better future for LGBT+ people.
The award ceremony will take place on February 9 in Dublin, Ireland.
Ali has been shortlisted for her extraordinary work for the welfare of the transgender community in Pakistan.
“It’s an honour for me,” she said on Friday while speaking of her nomination on SAMAA TV’s programme Naya Din.
She said the trans community was overjoyed.
“I have always longed for members of our community to make the nation proud like other Pakistani men and women do,” Ali said.
This is not the first time Ali has made headlines. She was one of the 13 transgender people who, for the first time in the country’s history, contested in the general elections in 2018.
Ali did not win the election, but says the act of contesting was itself revolutionary.
For the last 10 years, she has been giving technical support to government institutions to improve the lives of transgender people and provide them their basic rights.
She has a BSc (Hons) degree in botany from Punjab University and masters in international relations from Islamabad’s Preston University.
She has urged other members of her community to up the ante by educating themselves.
“Trans women should educate themselves and serve the country,” Ali said, adding that it’s one of our basic responsibilities as a citizen.
Her daughter Alisha and sister Ayesha are also members of the transgender community. Alisha is an MPhil scholar, while Ayesha works at the Ministry of Human Rights.
Ali believes it was all possible due to education. Getting an education changes you as a person, she said.
She added that opportunities keep coming to those who are educated.
Ali added that political empowerment is the need of the hour for transgender persons since it is “very important to advocate and lobby”.
“You can do voice prominent changes when law-making institutions are ready to listen to your reservations,” she said.
She clarified that no man or woman could ever understand, let alone represent transgenders at any platform.
Ali, however, was pleased with the changes in society.
In the coming 10 years, I can see a transgender representing us on political forums, she said.
“Isn’t it a big win that a transgender person is speaking as a guest on a morning show of SAMAA TV?” she asked with a smile.
“Recently, laws and policies have been framed that have increased our acceptance.”
She said the government was giving a helping hand to the community, but other people also need to improve their treatment of transgender people.