Feeling that she was a part of history in the making, Tahmena is back from the UK with a renewed sense of the power of peoplejoining efforts
Prof. Tahmena Bokhari, social worker and activist who won Mrs Pakistan World 2010 journeyed to London, England to join several others on February 16th to encourage Muslims to reclaim their artistic and cultural heritage. Ms. Bokhari was invited by conference organisers - the British Muslims for Secular Democracy (bmsd) and by the British Council. The conference titled "Free Muslims: Autonomy and Creativity" challenged those who seek to close down the Muslim mind by claiming Islam forbids artistic expression, leisure and cultural activities.
This was aligned with Ms. Bokhari's overall message that we must work to develop positive and healthy communities around the world. Having a personal passion for the arts, as she hobbies as a photographer, fashion designer, painter and writer, she firmly believes that creative outlets are a necessary part of a healthy life.
Ms. Bokhari, looking ever so glamorous in her self-designed red silk blazer and golden scarf, started her speech by addressing the controversy of her winning the Mrs Pakistan World 2010 crown. Many may think that her identities seem very contradictory given that she is a professor, social activist, feminist, Muslim and Pakistan and then if that was not enough she was now a beauty queen. She indicated that she is not a typical beauty and nor is this a typical pageant. She reasserted her message that there is no where else an avenue for an average Pakistani woman to become an ambassador for her country than the Mrs Pakistan World stage. She is using this platform to speak to the global audience on issues she has spent over a decade working on such as promoting women and uplifting her country.
In referencing neuroscience research and one of the college courses she teaches, Prof. Bokhari educated the audience on the brain development and the importance of stimulation of the mind from the ages 0-5 through dance, arts, language, and so on. She advised that it is very important in fields such as language, dance, sports and the arts that children be exposed to them early so their brain can best develop in those areas, otherwise the brain may lose the ability to develop or excel at these areas later on in life. Ms. Bokhari believes that developing creative outlets in all countries, but especially in places like Pakistan, can be a method of redirecting youth from violence and involvement with gangs and terrorist groups. She cited examples of using forms of art such as painting and photography as a part of therapy with her clients on social work projects she has conducted around the world. These photographs can be seen on some of her public blogs found on the net by typing her name in Google search.
She concluded her address to the crowd of nearly 200 people by saying that, "A sign of healthy children and communities around the world is access to positive outlets for emotional and physical energy, such as the creative arts including poetry, literature, painting, dance, music and so on. Creativity is considered to be a divine blessing in Islam. We need to make artistic and creative outlets available and accessible to everyone. The health of each individual and the sustainability of our culture depends on it."
Ms. Bokhari wasthankful to the British Council and to bmsd for inviting her and stated, "It was amazing to be a part of this room with such talented and amazing people. I am reminded of the power of community, when a bunch of like-minded people all get together to share ideas we can truly make change. This was history in the making and I am proud to be a part of it." Organizers were pleased at Bokhari's speech and participation and were highly satisfied with the outcome. Not knowing what the public's response would be at this new concept of reviving the arts, amazingly the crown was full of supporters.
While in the UK, Tahmena had a busy schedule of meetings with several dignitaries including the Canadian High Commissioner James Wright and former Pakistan President PervezMusharraf. She writes about her meeting with the former President on her blog regarding her work on the Pakistan earthquake at http://tahmenabokhari.blogspot.com/
Next, Ms. Bokhari is expected to make a special appearance after the Vagina Monologues play, the first ever of its kind in Vaughan, Ontario at the Terrace Banquet Centre this Wednesday evening at 6:00pm.