“I would love to implement practices of recycling waste in every household in Pakistan”

Hello there Sahar Soomro, who after a year of studies at Umeå University, participates in the Swedish Institute's graduation ceremony in Stockholm City Hall, Saturday 21 May.

What made you apply for the Swedish Institute’s scholarship “SI Scholarship for global professionals”?

During the Covid-19 pandemic, when I saw the circumstances and challenges of the healthcare system, my interest in health promotion measures in Pakistan increased. In my experience of working in academia, with health care professionals, and catering to communities’ health promotion needs, I have the ambition to establish a leadership position in public health promotion in Pakistan. I felt I had what it takes to become a young “Global Professional” and reach my ambition through qualitative education – something Sweden is known for. But the most important reason, for a woman from Pakistan, and what motivated my decision the most, was the encouragement and support from my parents. They felt that an education from Sweden would really give me a broad, global perspective on public health.

What is the most important thing you bring with you from Sweden, in your continued work to support sustainable development in Pakistan?

I would love to implement practices of recycling waste in every household, including a reduction in the use of plastic bags.  There is a vicious never-ending cycle of plastic bag usage in Pakistan that ultimately ends up filling the landfill. This practice has changed my lifestyle and is something I will continue to do in Pakistan. If I could, I would also persuade all officials of the water department in Pakistan to improve the standards of water cleanliness and water safety so that tap water could be considered safe drinking water, such as in Sweden.

And in 10 years, where do you hope to be?

In 10 years, I hope to contribute to society either through research, by bringing together change actors and marginalized groups – and by fighting for the right to health care in Pakistan.

Over the course of my studies, my experience has strengthened the belief that investing in the education of a female will serve to benefit society at large, pull nations towards economic stability, and nurture the spirit of future generations.