Manija Paktin, the hero of our recent material and founder of the organization for protection of women’s rights Stand Up for Afghan Women (SAAWO), returned to Almaty with an award. An awarding ceremony was held on November 14, 2017 at the headquarters of Microsoft in Redmond, Washington, for the winners of 10th conference of IWEC – The International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge Foundation. This year the organizers noted women entrepreneurs from around the globe who had to face many challenges to achieve success. Manija Paktin is a construction engineer, and director of a construction company in Afghanistan.
Manija Paktin’s road to the award was long and difficult. Her life was threatened, and she was, required to stop working with girls and women. They did not let her work, thinking that construction is not for women. But she kept going forward, following her beliefs and against general opinion. She is a strong Afghan woman.
Words can’t express all of my feelings, all that I have experienced during the award ceremony. I had to face many difficulties, and nobody helped me. I am not a part of any political party. I started my business from scratch. And now I received this award,” shared the winner.
It is of note that IWEC is an international foundation of women entrepreneurs, an NGO in New York City aimed at creating a global network of business women. The fund brings together business women who are already at on global markets and those who are just planning. The organization covers tens of companies around the globe, whose cumulative annual revenue exceeds $25 billion, where over 125,000 people work. Representatives of IWEC are among the most influential women from developed and developing countries. Manija Paktin is the first Afghan woman to have received such a high award.
Many learned about my award from the interview I gave to the Voice of America. My students at Balkh University, my friends and acquaintances all started sending their congratulations after they saw me on TV. The women who won from other countries told me that their difficulties were not difficulties in comparison to mine, once they saw the film about me. They were surprised how I managed to achieve all of it in a society like Afghanistan. They gave me hugs and congratulated me. I am thankful to Allah for what I have. This award is for all Afghan women.”