Muscular Dystrophy Middle East founder 18-year-old Nawaal Akram has been listed on the BBC 100 Women 2017.
Since 2013, the BBC 100 Women list has celebrated inspirational women across the globe to address the underrepresentation of women in media. This year, Qatar-born 18-year-old Nawaal Akram made it to the list. Two other Arab ladies also made this year’s list.
— Nawaal Akram (@NawaalAkram) September 27, 2017
Born in Qatar to expatriate parents of Pakistani origin, Nawaal Akram was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy as a child, a type of muscle diseases that leads to weakening and breakdown of skeletal muscles over time.
Defying all odds, and despite being denied a secondary school education, Nawaal broke through all barriers and today stands tall as a hero for her work against discrimination and stereotypes towards the disabled in Qatar and the Middle East.
Besides founding the regional support group Muscular Dystrophy Middle East, Nawaal Akram has also found a career in comedy and modeling.
“The day before the final list came out I couldn’t sleep,” she told Doha News. “But in the morning I got a phone call saying, congratulations, you made it. It was a shock.”
She added, “seeing myself in the same list as these amazing women who have changed lives and changed history – it is a big moment for me. You know, with me not having an education – it shows I can make a change, I cannot let my past define me.”
— BBC 100 Women (@BBC100women) September 27, 2017
Iraqi Zainab Fadhal and Moroccan Chaima Lahsini were the other two Arab ladies to make the list.
16-year-old Zainab left her home country at the age of 13, and despite her poor English language skills she achieved top exam scores in the UK.
By applying her journalistic skills, Chaima is an outspoken feminist and human rights activists who led anti-sexual assault protests in Morocco.