HERO Awards 2023: The Honourees

By September 29, 2023 November 28th, 2023 Regional, What We Do

Community Hero
Award Recipient

Aisha Mughal


Wikipedia page

A woman with a Trans experience, activist, Ph.D. Scholar and professional trainer. 

In 2020, Aisha became the worlds’ first transgender women to represent her government as part of the official state delegation at the UN (CEDAW Committee) in Geneva, Switzerland. It was the very first time in history that a transgender person has represented any country for a reporting procedure of an official UN treaty review. Aisha has also been listed as one of the most successful Transgender women in the world. 

Aisha has served as the UNDP Expert Consultant to the Ministry of Human Rights, Government of Pakistan from May 2019 to February 2021. She has been working for transgender empowerment, health and rights in Pakistan since 2015 and has undertaken innovative and impressive milestones. Aisha has also served as a focal person for transgender rights at National commission for Human Rights (NCHR), Government of Pakistan and is Director Programs of Trans led organization “Wajood Society”. 

In 2021, Aisha was appointed as the Ambassador for inclusive education by the Government of Punjab. Aisha also has the honor of becoming Pakistan’s first Transgender lecturer and first Transgender person to serve as a consultant in any Federal Ministry of Pakistan. She has successfully broken negative stereotypes about transgender community and is currently doing her Ph.D. from University of York, UK.  

Tell us about your work

I am currently working as Director Programs with Wajood Society in Pakistan and implementing several projects in partnership with international donors/partners. We work very closely with the federal and provincial governments on law & policy making and implementation as well as we build the capacity of the grass root level transgender community in Pakistan.  

In 2022, a right wing extremists group filed a petition in the Federal Shariyat court against the Transgender Act 2018 and the government, and I was nominated as one of the official parties in this case and hence, she has been providing technical support (pro-bono) to the government in order to defend the said Act in the court.   

I also worked as a UNDP expert consultant to the Ministry of Human Rights, Government of Pakistan (May 2019- Feb 2021). During my time in this position, I drafted Rules of the Transgender Act 2020, guidelines for law enforcement agencies, guidelines for health care providers and several other reports. I have assisted the Government of Pakistan for the UN CEDAW reporting procedure. Provided technical support in the establishment of the first government protection center for transgender. 

What one achievement you’ve accomplished that you’re most proud of? Why?

I am the world’s first transgender women to represent her government as part of national delegation at the UN (CEDAW Committee) in Geneva, Switzerland in February 2020. It made Pakistan the first country in the world to include a Transgender Person in its official delegation at the UN.

I have played an active role in the entire process of getting the Transgender law passed by the Parliament of Pakistan, and provided technical support to the Ministry of Human Rights in the establishment of the first government protection center for transgender persons. 

Also, as the Ambassador for inclusive education of the Government of Punjab, I provided technical support in establishing schools for the transgender persons in the province of Punjab, Pakistan. 

What do you find most challenging about your work? Why?

The biggest challenge as a Transgender Rights activist is the religious extremism in Pakistan.  Since 2021 there has been a very strong anti trans movement by religious political parties and groups and I have faced personal attacks and threats. Due to these circumstances I had to relocate outside Pakistan. Currently I am doing my Ph.D and at the same time I look after my organization in Pakistan and keep providing them technical support in fighting the court cases to protect transgender rights.  

What do you do to recharge your battery?

I spend time with my friends and surround myself with people who give me positive energy, inspiration and hope. 

What is your vulnerability and how do you overcome it?

Over the years long struggle as a woman with trans experience, I have overcome many personal vulnerabilities. As a child I always used to think that I would be alone for the rest of my life because I thought I was different from my friends and classmates. But gradually I started accepting and loving myself and I realized that if I invest my time and energy in building up my career, I would be able to gain respect, status and stature in society. 

Hence, I remained determined and kept working hard and completed my education despite all the bullying and harassment which I faced in schools. So for me the art of loving yourself and the ability to remain focused and determined played a crucial role in overcoming my all vulnerabilities.      

You have been nominated for the Community Hero category.
What was your reaction and please, tell us why?

I have received national awards and recognitions from the Pakistani government but being nominated for the APCOM’s HERO Awards for the Community Hero category by the community made me very emotional and happy because getting love and acceptance from your own community is a very beautiful experience. 

What is a warm/hopeful message that you would like to share with the communities in the Asia Pacific? (or anything else you would like to share)

I have learnt this thing very well with all the years of struggle, fighting and activism that the biggest gift you can give to someone is “HOPE” because hope never comes alone, it comes with courage and the desire to live!

So I want my community to never lose hope and always have faith in themselves. We have overcome many challenges in the past and we are well prepared for the future! 

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