Tell us a bit about yourself!
I am Sapna Jawid Piracha and I was born in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan but raised in the capital, Islamabad by the two full of life and visionary journalist parents who valued global exposure, service, and freedom of choice more than anything else. Growing up in a house of two journalists, the dining table conversations revolved around news, global crises, education reforms, traditional taboos, famine, wars and service.
It’s best to describe me as a social entrepreneur, a martial artist and a world traveler who brings stories of grit from misrepresented parts of the world. I received my Bachelors in Robotics & Automation Engineering from Air University, a civilian research university established under Pakistan Air force Education command. While I was pursuing my masters in Artificial Intelligence from NUST (Ranked # 1 university in Pakistan and among top 300 in the world), I decided to take a slight detour to study leadership. I left my masters in AI midway to come to the United States to obtain my master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Big Data from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth USA, where I led and served on several student’s organizations and graduated as a Valedictorian. In 2019 I was sponsored to join Leadership South Coast- civic leadership development program for emerging community leaders where I graduated as a class speaker.
I started my corporate career in 2012 at Toyota Motors and resigned from there as an Assistant Manager to join China State construction Engineering Corporation as an MEP (Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing) engineer. I was posted at the under construction New Islamabad International airport where I was the only on-site Pakistani female engineer. I served on the team that designed Heat, ventilation & Air conditioning infrastructure of the airport that has been functional since 2019.
I served at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth for 5 years and resigned as Assistant Director of Admissions and Part-time faculty at the Charlton College of Business in May 2021.
As Ms. Pakistan World how do you see yourself, bringing a change towards Pakistan in any manner?
As Ms. Pakistan World 2021, I take pride in my Pakistani roots and identity. It has made me who I am today and although we have many battles to fight against misogyny and patriarchy as a collective society, I still believe that I am lucky to be living in a time when change is inevitable, horizon is visible and when public, especially the youth of Pakistan has decided to stand up against many societal taboos and practices. We are a young and resourceful nation of resilient people and there is no better time to be alive then now. There is a shift coming in Pakistan and I am proud to be playing my part in it.
My biggest bit of contribution will be empowering young girls and women in STEM education (Science, Technology, Education & Mathematics), Aviation and Martial Arts through my social start-up. I am myself a STEM student/practitioner, martial artist, and an aviator in training and through community leadership, I feel grateful to have recognized the responsibility that now lies on my shoulder to give back. I have a steadfast belief that giving visibility and access to women in sciences, technology and athletics will propel our nation forward.
Currently, we stand at around 47% literacy rate for women and this number becomes almost invisible when we look at women in athletics. Despite the many challenges of overcoming rigid gender norms and lack of access to training facilities, Pakistani female athletes continue to put one step in front of the other and that to me is a promising sight that I feel humbled to contribute to.
Beauty pageants for Pakistan are on the rise, as more and more international pageants are recognizing Pakistan, what is your take on pageantry in general for Pakistan?
Beauty pageants have long been misunderstood in our society and every society in general. It has been associated with materialism and external beauty however, times have changed, pageantry and its criteria has itself changed and with that, our perspectives and understanding has evolved as well.
I am myself, a living and breathing proof that participating in pageantry could be a gratifying and empowering experience in a woman’s life and can provide platform and opportunities to help you propel your community work and vision forward. It makes me happy to see more Pakistani women in the pageantry sphere as well as official international pageants recognizing Pakistan. Pakistan is still a country that is getting used to seeing and internalizing the concept of beauty pageant.
I encourage my fellow Pakistani women to affiliate themselves with a cause or a vision that they believe in and step into pageantry work. We are brilliant and beautiful and can do a lot to represent the nation on a global sphere.
What charity project is you working towards, and where would you like to see it in 6 months?
I have led and served on several charitable projects throughout my life and have also co-founded a non-profit organization during my university years. However, this time, I recently left my full-time career in higher Ed as an Assistant Director to build ‘Sapna Foundation’ www.sapna-foundation.org, an organization with two domains of service– Karate education for street kids- as a way to expose them to a life outside of streets and channel their trauma and energy into physical training that builds character and mental tenacity. STEM academy will expose under privileged and underrepresented girls in STEM and Aviation. In the next 6 months, I plan to fundraise and lay the groundwork for sustainable infrastructure.
A pageant for woman like yourself, who is young and settled in your career, seems to be unreachable for many Pakistani women, what would you say to those women who are career oriented and not married?
My only message for young and ambitious women in Pakistan is to make a strong allyship amongst themselves to play their part in breaking hierarchal structures that are rooted in patriarchy. Thanks to our collective awareness, educational liberalism and activism, we have come a long way, but there is still work to be done. Pakistan has one of the best education systems in Asia and it is evident in the trail blazing performance of our students who continue education abroad. My only wish is for our women to have equal access, visibility and exposure in all facets of socio-economic fabric.
What does the Ms. Pakistan World mean to you?
This title represents character, contribution, and community. Through the Ms. Pakistan World title, I want to advocate for women in education and athletics and create a community of trailblazing women who believe in themselves and in their potential. To every girl and woman reading this, this title represents your perseverance and my promise to galvanize that galvanize the perseverance. Let’s get the ball rolling.