Despite years of prejudice, Dr. Mahwish Sharif, who is from a remote village in central Balochistan received a medical degree and was appointed the first doctor with hearing impairment in Balochistan.
Dr Mahwish Sharif lost her hearing ability at the age of four due to sensorineural hearing loss or SNHL. This disease damages the inner ear. However, this did not stop her childhood dream of becoming a doctor.
“I used to act like a doctor while playing with my brothers when I was a little girl. The white coat that doctors wear and the stethoscopes always inspired me.”
Although Mahwish had all the support from her family, her graduation from Bolan Medical College in 2021 came after many long years of discrimination and insensitive comments even from faculty members. Sharif’s experiences are not uncommon in a country where people with disabilities have to live with prejudice and lack of opportunities.
In January 2020, Pakistan passed the Disability Rights Act to provide a comprehensive legal framework to protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities. In July of the same year, Pakistan’s Supreme Court directed the federal and provincial governments to implement the new law which requires that 2 percent of people employed by an establishment be persons with disabilities. But despite the passage of the law and the top court’s support, those with disabilities remain underrepresented in higher education and in the workforce in Pakistan.
It is without doubt that Mahwish Sharif had to work immensely hard to overcome all the obstacles and to achieve her dreams. She is a very professional doctor and very appreciated in the field. The hospital has never received any complaints about the doctor from her patients or their attendants.
Women like Mahwish are prime examples of determination. No hurdles, societal pressures or discriminations can stop one from achieving their goals in life. Defying all odds, Dr Mahwish Sharif has proved to the world that women do not have to be damsels in destress, they are much more.