Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, you are my role model

Published: February 27, 2012

There was an entire country that Sharmeen represents, waiting nervously for her and anticipating her very great moment. PHOTO: REUTERS

As I sat waiting for the award for ‘Best Documentary, Short Subject’ for which Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy had been nominated for her documentary Saving Face to be announced, my stomach tied itself in knots.

Having interned with Sharmeen last year, and worked with her on “Saving Face”, I was inspired by her. I frantically texted my friend Anushka (who had been Sharmeens’ assistant last year) who was as nervous and excited as me. The thought of Sharmeen at the Oscars was overwhelming and we had a strong feeling that she would win.

We felt anxious, almost sick, but we knew that we were not alone. There was an entire country that Sharmeen represents, cheering nervously for her and anticipating her very great moment. Everyone was proud that she was nominated, and that a Pakistani had achieved something so great. As they announced “ Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy”, the room I sat in at my college in America burst out into screams and cheers.

My fellow students screamed out of joy, but I felt as a Pakistani only I knew what this win really means for our country.

In this win, Sharmeen has not only brought the most prestigious film award back home to Pakistan, but she has shown us that Pakistanis can reach their dreams. This strong headed and driven woman has made a difference in a country that often feels lost and forlorn. The award is a symbol of all that she has achieved and will continue to achieve, for Pakistan; a symbol of all that every one of us must aspire to achieve in the future.

Sharmeen has battled bureaucracy and red-tape so that her voice, and the voices of the oppressed is heard. She single-handedly ran the Citizens Archive of Pakistan every day and managed the company from the bottom, up. Surprisingly, she was always aware of everyone’s whereabouts, and sent in tasks even while she was away on business trips.

It takes a very strong person to have a family and to simultaneously work in a country often makes her tasks even harder. Like many, Sharmeen could have moved away to America after acquiring a great education, but she chose to return to her home and change the lives of the disillusioned in our society; to make a difference for our people.

Never did we think the day would come when Pakistan would be ushering in an Oscar. Sharmeen has now shown us just what Pakistan is capable of and is illuminating the way towards the path that we must follow.

So as we celebrate today, let this day guide us towards a new and enlightened future for Pakistan. Let us give voices to those in our country who have been suppressed and discriminated against. Let us all be the difference in our country.

Congratulations, Sharmeen. You are my role model, my inspiration – my country’s inspiration.




Aaminah Qadir

Aaminah Qadir

The author attained her undergraduate degree in Global Affairs at Yale and studied Law from the University of Cambridge. She tweets as @AaminahQ (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • altaf khan

    she is an inspiration for women across pakistan.she is self confident,self reliant,professional woman who has boldly taken on important issues.her other effort ” Terror’s children” was very good should have been shown on our channels.sharmeen has shown to our public that women are no less than men.she is a role model for all women who decide to not waste their lives living behind the chaar diwari but instead decide to work in a professional capacity in the world and make a positive difference.sadly,a lot of our girls waste away their education by staying at home and not having careers.sharmeen worked in difficult circumstances and overcame a lot making different documentaries in a patriarchal,regressive society like ours.Recommend

  • Aasim

    Shamreen has indeed make us proud. I wish her a really bright future and even greater successes in the years to come. Recommend

  • shahid shafi

    She is a true role model for every one in pakistan.she should ignore the religious fanatics who are criticising her on different forums for not wearing hijab,not wearing dupatta,wearing sleeveless and standing next to man who’s not her husband.sharmeen should ignore the regressive hatemongers,they just can’t stand a woman who’s not ashamed of her gender,who’s not ashamed of being a female.sharmeen has done our country proud.Recommend

  • Eeman

    Funny eh! She has became a role model ever since she’s won the Oscar. Her work, inspiringly, however, had been around since long. Tell us that the flashes of Oscar’s red carpet are too mouth-watering to walk on! Recommend

  • http://tribune shiza

    Congratulation Sharmeen although its good effort, but y u just expose the bad or horrible face of muslim Community n the point is that international media just emphasize weaknesses of muslim umma y they should not support n enhance the positive image/ strength of this community.Recommend

  • Captain Obvious
  • Forbidden Fruit

    Heartiest congratulations to the team of Saving Face. May every Pakistani come to feel as sensitively about such urgent and pressing social issues.Recommend



    Why do we need to show our wounds to others in order to get their affirmations?

    Please understand that Pakistan’s image on international level is already too bad. This documentary has once again fortified the western stereotype about Pakistan being a land of brutes. This documentary may have won its director an Oscar but it has made Pakistan’s image worse than before. I believe while giving Sharmeen the Oscar, the host must be smiling through clenched teeth.
    I would be glad when someone wins an Oscar for Pakistan by highlighting some good side of our society because believe you me there are a thousand good things happening in Pakistan every other second!Recommend

  • Ali Kamran

    She makes us proud… Especially i respect her spirit as she is doing her bit in the development and success of country though she is a well educated woman from america and could have a better and charming life there but she choosed to stay here in pakistan. Hats off to you.. Mem..Recommend

  • najia ahmed

    all those who think it is going to give a bad name to oakistan for heavens come to your senses. it not merely shows the burn victims it shows how do these women whom we consider weak survive against all odds, n how Dr Jawad reconstruct their faces. Sharmeens last tweet was “after the oscars everyone came to me and so many good things about my country to me. jinnah would have been so proud” for hevens sake haters, come out of ur tiny brains n think bigger. Recommend

  • Dr.Sumaira Adnan

    you are my not role model Recommend

  • Armita

    @IRFAN: You’re negativity is something which I feel pulls back Pakistan. Why are you making “America” or the “West” into a bad-guy? Open you eyes, and your mind. A Pakistani won an Oscar on American ground for her brilliance, appreciate that. Sharmeen has highlighted a negative aspect but she has also shown what Pakistani’s have DONE to change the negativity, how the country is not just made up of terroristics and savages.

    I applaud her for her courage and energy, it couldn’t have been easy to make a documentary about this in Pakistan. Sharmeen, you are my role model too. You have inspired me to make a difference for our country, thank you. Recommend

  • Sayed Aasim Jawaid

    Respected Critiques

    Please understand what has been achieved here by a selfless WOMAN here and her team, what has been shown is what actually happens, if you love it that this is not shown, wake up and do your part to have these brutalities and inhumane stopped once forever……

    Congratulation for The brave ” Sharmeen and her Team ” to honoring us with this bright talent.Recommend

  • xor

    Congratulations Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy on this achievement. But I would me more happy, if you or someone else get the award by bringing something positive about Pakistan.Recommend

  • razanat khan

    Congratulations to Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy on winning the Oscar for Best Documentary Short!Recommend

  • SJ

    This victory constantly reminds me of the subject of her documentary, very sad to know we still have such brutal men in our country who look down on women.
    Congratulations Sharmeen, you’ve made me tear up after a long time.Recommend

  • http://tiribuene,com tanveerakhtae

    well done lady.

  • abbas

    @shiza Please crawl back into your burkha and stay there.

    @Irfan if showing reality portrays us as a land of brutes, then maybe there is some truth to the matter.Recommend

  • Wowemkay

    You don’t just make us proud Sharmeen, but give us all hope. Hope that despite all the bigotry, obscurantism, horror and madness around us we can still hope for a better tomorrow and for the many Sharmeens within us to emerge, excel and inspire many just as you have done for Aaminah. May God protect you and help you with the wonderful craft that you have used so powerfully and poignantly to show the humanity within us that we hope will transcend the brutality that diminishes us.Recommend

  • Umesh C G

    You must know that “the truth will be stranger than fiction!”. Whether it is in India or Pakistan. As an Indian, I remember some people (read Bollywood) ridiculed great director Satyajith Ray’s films (Who’s also a Oscar Winner) for exporting India’s poverty to get awards (strange!). I know women’s situation in Pakistan is not better than India. But you should take it positively that this shows that there is an Intellectual Pakistan, which is still alive! and take it as an example that a woman in Pakistan can reach such heights and win such honors! So there’s still hope is left in Pakistan!. All the best to Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy!!Recommend

  • abbas

    And to all the ignoramus’s crying about how this documentary depicts Pakistan, please go and watch it first. It shows both sides of the coin, the evil that infests our country and the ordinary people that are fighting it to bring change. Don’t make baseless assertions without seeing the thing first. Recommend

  • Hash

    Well there’s a little confusion going around today about the first ever Pakistani winning an Oscar. In fact Mir Zafar Ali was the first ever Pakistani to win an oscar for the movie ‘The Golden Compass’ in 2007 for best Visual effects. We surely are proud of Sarmeen but Zafar was the first… Just on a side note!

  • saima

    make a film ‘Pakistan is a gutter’ and bet it wins more than one oscar.Recommend

  • Abdul Ghafoor Jammu

    Pakistan Zinda Bad
    Well Done SharmeenRecommend

  • Why so bitter?

    If you read properly, it says ” I interned with her last year” – so no, she was her role model before she won an oscar.

    Don’t be so quick to judge always!Recommend

  • Najam Hafeez

    Congratulations to her!! thank goodness she is not an Ahmadi because in that case her accomplishment would not mean anythingRecommend

  • Mohd Younos

    Welldone, Congratulate to Sharmeen Obaid u have done great job as an Pakistani Woman.
    I wish more woman will come to do the best jobs. U have show the reall things which are happening in Pakistan. As we are muslim we must give the same rights to women as west give. I suport you all the way your life. You are better than westren women because you do the best job in Pakistan, the country where everything difficult for women. with best wishes.Recommend

  • samia sumbal

    i haven’t won this award but dnt know y this feeling is so strong that i am feeling proud ,proud to b a Pakistani n really she z a role model …. congratulations sharmeen oobaid chinoy… u made us proud n proud to be a pakistaniRecommend

  • mayanaz

    its a strength in a person and a nation when they can acknowledge their problems. u will always remain weak if u hide behind a false illusion of being strong…… @shiza: Recommend

  • mustafa

    salam and mubark hou Recommend

  • Najam Hafeez

    @IRFAN you must have forgotten that someone made you proud by getting a Nobel prize far more prestigious than an Oscar, or are you not proud of him , the great Abdus Salaam!!Recommend

  • Anushka

    Congratulations Sharmeen! Aaminah – you speak for so many of us! she truly is an inspiration – making Pakistan proud every day in different ways! and to all the haters – its about time you started being happy for people and appreciating them rather than undermining their efforts and being grouchy all the time! SHARMEEN ZINDABAD! PAKISTAN ZINDABAD! Recommend

  • Parvez

    Nicely written and Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy – THANK YOU.Recommend

  • American Pakistani

    Sharmeen won this on basis of quality of her work, not the subject matter. Being recognized as a filmmaker by academy is HUGE.

    Also millions of people who are unhappy about the subject should realize that she achieved what she wanted to do, which was to put a spotlight on the issue. She didn’t make it to win an oscar. It’s another thing that she got recognized on top of her sincere effort.Recommend

  • Kamal Malik

    Congratulations to Sharmeen! You have made all of us Proud. You are really an inspiration

    I am an up and coming documentary Film-maker myself and 2 of my projects which are currently in the works is- (1) Abduction, Conversion to Islam and forcible marriage of minor Hindu girls in Sindh (2) Practice of Vani in KP. Recommend

  • humpaki

    the west to give all the awards to anything which insult islam muslims or pakistan ..there are many good things aswell in pakistan. why cant she still be able to show the world the face of beautiful pakistan .. Recommend

  • Haleema Tahir

    Congratulations Sharmeen!!! I didn’t know about this until the next day when i was talking to my dad!!! I was really sorry that i hadn’t know about this and very disappointed. But just hearing the news in my dads car had me all excited and proud. I’m seriously proud of Sharmeen. She is a true role model for a Pakistani women!!!! I hope that she achieves her goal of educating the younger generation!!! Recommend

  • Saif

    She is washing our dirty laundry out in the open. That is the reason she gets Emmy and Oscar awards. I would like to see her writing about victims of domestic violence in the western world and earn an Oscar. But then New York Times and Smith college won’t fund her.Recommend

  • Zia

    My wife and I sat down late night in cold Canada and waved our hands like ” Yay!!”
    What a great achievement and what an excellent speech !. You did us and all Pakistan proud Sharmeen. God bless you and our country.Recommend

  • Ahsan Nisar

    What a forgetful nation we are…!!! While rejoicing Ms. Chinoy’s victory for being awarded Oscar after 84 years, we have completely forgotten PPP’s MPA Waheeda Shah’s episode of slapping a teacher (A woman slapping a woman). So much for “saving face”…!!!

    I would like to ask why hasn’t any feminist NGO taken up the issue so far??? Indeed, some marks take more time to heal than acid burns…!!!Recommend



  • Lone Star

    Well done Sharmeen and her team. I hope our “sleeping authorities” also take notice of those poor victims. Recommend

  • Dr. Amyn Malik

    Excellent work by Sharmeen!

    Well done lady.Recommend

  • Anonymous aka Shaggy_rulz

    Aminah Qadir I love you long timeRecommend

  • abdulazeez

    @ Amina Qadir: the co-director of the film mr.Daniel Junge in his winning speech said he had the idea for the film after hearing about Jawad, and asked sharmeen chinoy to work with him. He has been previously nominated for an both Oscar and an Emmy…..that means the credit goes to Daniel Junge not to chinoy.Recommend

  • Anam J

    Saif, Pakistan is the third most dangerous country for women. Look it up. If people like Sharmeen dont highlight the plight of women here, things will only get worse. The way of dealing with problems is not to avoid them and deny their existence, but to tackle them full frontal, as this documentary does. I guess you missed out on the fact that the documentary shows the resilience of our women and the good work being done to help them.

    Open your mind. Recommend

  • Mr. Hyder


    I think of world peace right now, that does not mean i should get all the credit if we acheive world peace tomorrow. It about the people who work on the project and make it happen. The short documentary was a joint effort and requires a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You have the luxury of not seeing what they have seen because deep down inside you dont want the truth.

    I’d rather you just said thank you and went on your way.Recommend


    @Najam Hafeez:

    NO SIR. I am proud of Dr. Abdus Salam. He was a true Pakistani. He won the prestigious award by the sheer force of his character and his commitment to work.

    One more thing: Don’t you think Dr. Jawad deserves the Civilian Award announced by PM Gilani? He is the one who is actually doing something. Recommend

  • Armita

    @Saif: “washing our dirty laundry out in the open”, this is what my sister used to say when I told her to seek help for being domestically abused by her husband, and it sickens me. We need to be aware, and we need to deal with these problems as a NATION. Our country has problems. Wake up. What do you think hiding problems will do?Recommend

  • Oonib

    i love her seriously ! <3 Recommend

  • Hammad

    Is their a positive aspect of our society? Enlighten me!Recommend

  • abdullah

    Yes. Congratulations to Sharmin Obaid-Chinoy, she made us proud. But she made a documentary about how we treat our women… proud now?
    How about making documentaries about the positive things in Pakistan and present a much positive image of Pakistan in world, instead of showing what else is wrong in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Leena.

    OR, and this one’s a really crazy idea so brace yourself, how about we change the way we treat our women?

    Novel, isn’t it? Why bother with that one though. Let’s just look the other way and talk about rainbows and ponies instead. This will probably a much easier task for ignorant, misogynist fools that pollute our nation and are unable to see that serious changes need to take place within the country before the rest of the world can begin see us in a positive light.Recommend

  • Zkhan

    @Hammad… yes there are positives in our society self loathing people will never understand that. Recommend

  • Awais Ch

    Haha…Oscar to one Pakistani..and Image Distraction of 18 crore Pakistanis,how a patriotic citizen or a practical Muslim could be proud of ? If you sell Pakistan’s Negativity (0.000001) on account of acid throwing acts,to strengthen frreign driven Negative Nerrative, I am sorry! you can win an Oscar but Loose the moral argument….Why not win an Oscar on Positive side of Women in Pakistan ? There are 10000000s of Women’s work Eastern / Muslim women could teach the Western World from their positive actions… something like.. Women in our part of the World not just Cover themselves by doing “Hijaab” but, byt this, they also Cover Men too to avoid their dirty intentions. but May be they cant show because they themselves do not do it. or may be coz… (temporarily life this wont impress the Oscar givers) , Wish our only concern is of Impressing the real Reward Giver of this world and here after (the permanent one) million time bigger award then this worldly black 4 inch pieceRecommend

  • Maheen

    well the congrats are in order for you as well:)—since you interned with her:)—she really has made all Pakistanis, whether they still live in Pakistan or are away from Pakistan very proud—YAY:)Recommend

  • Why so bitter?

    @ Awais Ch
    @ Hammad
    There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with telling a story that isn’t positive. it is a story that deserves and need to be told. why are all of you such negative men?

    As a woman i APPRECIATE that she did this. Do you think it is a joke?? Ruining people’s faces?? AND LIVES!! If this happened to men in pakistan you would see its worth. Could you please take your negative attitude to another forum because we appreciate sharmeen and her award.Recommend

  • Insomniac

    Awareness is more important than this piece of metal or whatever it’s made of.Recommend

  • Asif Hussain

    Hidden Heroes
    Well done Sharmeen ! for achieving the height of heights and raising heads of every
    Pakistani with glory and exaltation. While appreciating this historical sucess achieved
    By a brave lady of Pakistan I would like to address to many Pakistani origin living
    Abroad who although have talents and if probed we will find so many Sharmeens
    And Dr.Jawad,BUT…….due to one reason or other they feel “shy”and prefer NOT to
    Disclose their identity as a PAKISTANI, instead of disclosing their identity they share
    Absured jokes and humour for Pakistan and Pakistanis… I think this achievement
    Of a “Brave” lady of our soil would be an eye opener for all those negetive minded

  • Taha

    @Asif Hussain:
    I totally support Asif Hussain,s views about so many Pakistani Origins living in USA,UK,
    CANADA who although are Pakistani but do not disclose their identiy to be the sons or
    daughters of their mother land Pakistan. I know many of them who fall under this category.
    In my opinion who so ever, who do not love and respect thier mothers will never respect
    their “MOTHER LAND” Allama Iqbal very rightly said in one of his verses:
    Khuda ne aaj tak us Qaum ki halat nahi badli
    Na ho jis ko khayal khud apni halat kay badalnay ka.

    May God Almighty show right path to all those negetive minded people.Recommend

  • Sohan Rehman

    Hahahh.. Congrats! Oscar to a Pakistani for depicting the same side of Pakistan what the award givers are also portreying to the world! Yes they had to give this award to Sharmeen who was concsiously or unconcsiously (God knows better) on the same page with them.
    I’ve a suggestion for Sharmeen that make her next documentary on more than 40,000 civil casualities by US drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We hope she would be visiting Guantanamo in reward instead of Oscar..!!Recommend

  • Ali

    everyone’s role model should be imran khan. period.Recommend

  • ali

    Congratulation to Sharmeen Obaid and the entire team of Saving Face. Pakistan is a blessed nation with immensely talented people. All we need to do is work hard with honesty, dedication and unity and we can turn our dreams into reality. Be inspired and motivated. Check out the following link.