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Empowering Success: The Triumph of Muslim Women

In a country where societal norms often overshadow individual aspirations, the success stories of Muslim women clearing India’s toughest examinations, stand out as beacons of hope and progress. The UPSC 2023 results saw an inspiring number of Muslim women, such as Wardah Khan, and Saima Seraj Ahmed, achieving what many dream of but few attain. Their journeys reflect not just personal triumphs but also the broader narrative of overcoming societal and economic barriers through perseverance, hard work, and the level playing field ensured by the government. Their success also provides aspirations to thousands of Muslim women bound down by patriarchal societal set-up and regressive cultural bonds.

Wardah Khan, a former corporate professional, exemplifies this narrative. After leaving her job in 2021 to pursue her passion for public service, she faced initial setbacks but eventually secured the 18th rank in her second attempt. Wardah’s choice of the Indian Foreign Services underscores her desire to contribute to the nation’s growth on a global stage. Similarly, Nazia Parween’s journey from Giridih to becoming a civil servant is marked by her relentless pursuit of a childhood dream. Nazia’s unwavering commitment led her to enroll in the Residential Coaching Academy of Jamia Millia Islamia, where she finally succeeded, securing the 670th rank. Her father’s encouragement and the realization that her corporate job was not fulfilling, drove her to chase her dream, demonstrating the crucial role of family support and self-awareness in achieving success. Kolkata’s Khan Saima Seraj Ahmed, who secured AIR 165, also mirrors this perseverance. She emphasizes the importance of resilience, stating, “Failures can be depressing but we can always fight it back with optimism. These failures build our mental strength.” Saima’s words reflect a common thread among these successful women: the ability to view setbacks as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks.

The successes of these women are not isolated incidents but part of a broader trend of increasing minority representation in competitive exams like the UPSC. This year, several Muslim women, including Nausheen, Arfa Usmani, Farheen Zahid, and Areeba Saghir, among others, have cleared the exam. Their achievements are celebrated within their communities, serving as inspiration for many young aspirants. Government incentives and initiatives have played a pivotal role in creating a level playing field for these women. Programs aimed at minority education and empowerment, along with scholarships and coaching facilities, have provided crucial support. These measures, combined with the relentless efforts of the candidates themselves, have facilitated their success. Moreover, the stories of these women underscore the extra efforts put in by Muslim women to overcome societal and economic challenges. From quitting stable jobs to enduring multiple failures before achieving success, their journeys highlight a remarkable dedication to their goals. They serve as powerful examples of how perseverance, when coupled with the right opportunities and support, can lead to extraordinary accomplishments.

The upward trend in success of Muslim women in competitive exams showcases how, despite societal and economic barriers, individuals can rise to great heights with the right support and unyielding dedication. These stories not only inspire other aspirants but also underline the need for continued efforts to provide equal opportunities for all, ensuring that many more such success stories emerge in the future and bonds of patriarchy are shattered.

-Insha Warsi

Francophone and Journalism Studies,

Jamia Millia Islamia

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