Compiled by Pirah Aijaz
When God takes away something, HE surely gives something special in return. Today Fempreneur is honored to feature Aliza Munim Qazi who was born deaf but gifted with some extraordinary talents.
She never considered her hearing or speaking challenges a weakness. Instead, she proved herself to be a woman of immense strength and resilience. And of course, it was her parents who played an important role in instilling confidence in her. It is impossible to explain in words the struggles and hardships they have gone through. After struggling for years, she has now become an inspiring artist-turned-entrepreneur managing her own Art venture, named “The World of Art”.
There is no doubt that Aliza Munim Qazi is an inspiration to many, let’s learn more about her from the power lady herself..
Tell us about yourself and how you get started with your business venture.
I’m a differently-abled girl who is blessed with some exceptional qualities and art is one of them. During my childhood, I had a dream of becoming a famous Pakistani artist, knowing that it requires a lot of hard work and constant effort. I didn’t give up and kept practicing to achieve my goals. Here I would like to credit my parents who supported me at every step of my life. I can’t put into words what they had done for me. I am now happily married to a man who is also hearing impaired but equally talented – Munim Qazi. I never consider my disabilities as hurdles. One thing that has kept me motivated throughout was, that art has no language and barriers, if one is good at it, he/she can do it despite any kind of hurdles and limitations. For people, the sky is the limit, for me, I can go limitless through my art. That’s how I started my art venture named “The World of Art”.
What motivated you to become an artist?
I grew up watching my father paint and do the artwork. Due to his love of art, I also started loving it and doing Art in school. I started participating in competitions and won prizes. It took me almost 15 years to become an Artist.
You are a founder of “The World of Art”. How did you come up with the idea for your brand?
I have always been an admirer of the talent that Deaf people have. Deaf people are very creative and good at Art. This gave me the idea to establish a platform so that I can highlight the talent of the deaf, especially Deaf women. I started providing training and organizing events for the Deaf community.
As a differently-abled person, what challenges did you face in setting up your business?
Access to communication was the main hurdle. Due to the lack of professional sign language interpreters, it has been a difficult task to communicate with people who can hear. To hire a sign language interpreter, we have to pay them, so the expense itself was also a challenge.
Who has been your biggest support, throughout your Entrepreneurial journey?
My parents supported me throughout the journey. They always admired my work and provided me with the opportunity to participate in Events. Later on, my husband, who is also an artist supported me to chase my dream. Through his ongoing support, I am still trying to achieve my goals.
What has been the greatest achievement for you, so far?
Throughout my career, I got many awards and certificates. One of the proudest moments in my journey was to get Khadija -Tul -Kubra award in Islamabad, in recognition of my services to people with Disabilities. The second award was from the Government of Sindh titled “Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah & Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Award” on the Event of Women’s Day 2021 which was presented by Ms. Sharmila Farooqui.
The third Award was from the Russian Center of Science and Culture for securing the First Prize in the Children’s Drawing Contest. Another proud moment was when I was awarded First Prize among 25 participants who participated in the 23rd March competition for Textile Design ideas. The award was handed over to me by Hasan Shehryar (HSY).
How would you define success?
For me, ‘success’ is not getting what I want alone. For me ‘real’ success would be if I become a catalyst for bringing Change in society. I want to work for a society where differently-abled people can get a chance to claim their rights and in my view, one of the main rights of the Deaf is – access to communication.
Where do you see yourself in the next three years?
I would like to see myself establishing an Art Institute dedicated to the Deaf community. There are many Institutes that cater to the needs of the hearing community like Indus Valley School or Karachi School of Arts and many others but there is no Institute specifically designed to meet the needs of the Deaf Community. So, I would like to establish such an Institute.
What advice would you give to women who are differently abled?
Be confident and empower yourself. Enhancing your skills and building your capacity can help you achieve this. You can also start your business and earn a living for your family. Establishing a support group of Deaf people or people with similar disabilities and creating Leaders for them can help you reach your goals.