SRINAGAR — Defying all the odds to achieve her goals, a young Kashmiri woman Sahreen Shamim from Srinagar, who left her home without the wishes and consent of her parents some three years ago facing severe challenges and social stigma of being a woman, has outshined and become the first Kashmiri woman to be offered Masters in Public Policy at the University of Oxford.
She is the second Kashmiri but first Kashmiri woman to secure a place in Oxford University, which is a lifetime opportunity.
Sahreen, 29, a resident of Srinagar, has done her initial education from Srinagar and then moved to Bangalore for further studies while on her return, parents didn’t permit her to work outside Jammu and Kashmir citing societal pressures.
With her eyes set on the sky, Sahreen faced immense challenges and battles and finally she left her home in 2017 to pursue her goals and do what she desired to attain. She started working for a Canada-based firm and finally met her goal as she has been offered a place in Oxford University.
Sahreen said that the decisions she made over the years were very tough and she faced immense challenges throughout the journey up to the time she made it to Oxford to achieve her goal. “But the tenure was extremely difficult as even my own family members initially left me abandoned in absence of any support. I had to fight hard to attain what I always aspired for,” she said.
She said after completing her education, she got a chance to work outside the Valley but her family didn’t allow her to move out of J&K and suggested her to secure admission in the courses they wished. “But all the time I wasn’t satisfied with their decisions. I was eyeing something else and that was too big only.”
Like everyone else, Sahreen never wanted to go after the medical or engineering profession rather wanted to study about the society but her parents motivated her to go for engineering in Malaysia. “After spending some time there, I returned back due to the financial crunch at home as my family couldn’t bear the expenses and that time I was really left emotionally weak and shell-shocked,” she recalled.
Sahreen said her parents faced a lot of societal pressure as none from their dynasty had ever gone outside. “My father didn’t talk to me for at least three months as he felt disappointed with my decision,” Sahreen said.
“I have always been vocal with my thoughts and finally one day I decided to leave for Delhi where I joined an international, Canada-based firm. I earned appreciation within the organization and held a high name for my amount of contribution and with time, clients from across the globe showed very much satisfaction that helped me to grow very fast which motivated me to a level that I realized much more can be achieved in the times to come.”
Talking about Kashmir, she said: “I’m planning to change the mindset of the people especially with regard to girls who suffer immensely due to the societal pressure so that no one questions their choice. Also, my intentions are clear about the ongoing education policy which truly needs some modification since the world has gone beyond in times of digitalization, still the students including unprivileged suffer in times of frequent lockdown and unprecedented situation.”
Sahreen said she will open her school for the unprivileged in some villages of Kashmir for first generation students with advent technology with free of cost and her return from Oxford will earn her a name.
“Though I got placed in almost seven international universities but my first preference was Oxford since only bureaucrats, politicians, and consultants working in government sector would get selected. It brings me immense happiness that I am the only woman from Kashmir to get a place here,” she said.
“The selection for the course at Oxford honestly encourages me to a greater extent than being the first Kashmiri woman. Now the family members also think that I have done something good in my life which makes them and I feel really happy despite many hiccups.”
She said that she has got a place for Masters in Public Policy at Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford and it will give her a sense of satisfaction and a sort of reorganization.