Visually impaired Pakistani girl wins scholarship to Oxford

“I do have a disability, I am blind, and I firsthand experienced the impacts of not having an inclusive society," she said.

KARACHI: Khansa Maria was born blind and growing up the most basic right of education was a struggle in Pakistan. However, with her Rhodes Trust Scholarship to Oxford University, she plans to make society more inclusive for those like her.

As per Maria, “I do have a disability, I am blind, and I firsthand experienced the impacts of not having an inclusive society.” It is her struggles that have made her a passionate advocate for creating a more inclusive and accessible society for people with disabilities. “I do have a certain responsibility towards my community to improve things to the extent that I can, or at least lend my skills or my experience in a way that benefits people like me in Pakistan,” she said. For her, the first step in making a change will be arming herself with knowledge and so she plans to pursue her Master’s degree in evidence-based policy intervention and social evaluation at the Oxford University.

An advocate for change, Maria has also spoken at various conferences about the advantages and importance of having an inclusive society and has also been campaigning for disabled people to have their basic rights. Her determination to not let others suffer the same disadvantages as she did has garnered a lot of praise. The fact that she didn’t allow her disability to limit her was appreciated by the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Tourism, Human Development and Overseas Pakistanis Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari who tweeted about her, “a proof that your problems are only as big as you make them.”

Shahbaz Taseer called Maria’s success “unbelievable and absolutely amazing.” She was also praised for wanting to give back to the country despite the difficulties she faced living there. Khansa Maria is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s at the Georgetown Qatar Campus in foreign service with a special focus on culture and politics. More power to her!

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