When Yamna Majeed was a girl in school, she was told that there is no scope for space in Pakistan, so she decided to create it. Majeed is a Space Educator and the founder of Exploration by Yumna (a registered organisation working for astronomy & space in Pakistan).
Majeed works with children to teach them about the vast universe, outer space, the stars and all that encompasses it. The space scientist was always told by teachers and friends that this field cannot be pursued in Pakistan, however, she did not give up.
Yamna wants to continue spreading awareness about space and wants to involve children to take more interest. Her mission is to make an institute which could teach astronomy and space technology to young kids in Pakistan. Since she has faced a lot of obstacles at the beginning of her space education career, the biggest being a girl, she wants to prove that girls are no less than their counterparts.
In an interview with UNICEF, Majeed shared that she realized that being a girl doesn’t mean you’re weak. Since childhood, she has had some interests that made people call her a tomboy, but she now realizes that if you’re different or strong or if you want to pursue unique hobbies, doesn’t mean you aren’t a girl or have boyish interests. So, for Yamna Majeed, being a girl means being equally strong.
Moreover, she shared that finding and getting her hands on equipment such as telescopes, and then convincing others that there is a major scope around space in the country is hard.
‘Astronomy is considered as the hobby of an elite, a science which doesn’t put food on the table. Another obstacle was the unavailability of scientific equipment such as telescopes, as Pakistan has no company manufacturing them.’ Shared Yamna.
However, she was motivated and wanted to ensure the girls who would come after her would not face the same problems that she has.
I couldn’t go out to random places or parks and invite people to enjoy the beauty beyond the earth’s atmosphere. I belong to a Pakistani family were coming back home before sunset is a must for a girl.
She believes that space is the best way to empower girls to spread the message that they can reach for the stars and the moon if they believe in their dreams and in themselves.
‘There is a gender concept that women cannot, or should not, work in such fields. I have heard a lot of similar comments that women must not work, they must get married. These comments come from the gender inequality rooted in our minds since the very beginning. Women in STEM from this era are trying their best to change this narrative, and I am playing my part in changing this narrative.
‘I think that one of my biggest achievements has been to run this organisation as a one-woman army for 4 years, other achievements include winning different awards: my first award was winning a telescope in an international competition which was signed by my favourite astronaut, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, and other ESA astronauts.
‘I got working and as I won more telescopes, meteorites, and different awards, I got recognised internationally as well as nationally.
‘I believe my biggest achievement is the impact that I try to create on young minds. We can improve the situation and create more gender equality through space by giving more recognition to women who are working in space. We can create special posts and give special scholarships for women who join the space sector and work in this field.’ She shared.
She then started an affiliation with different organisations so that she can give space education at different campuses all over Lahore.
We wish her all the best for the marvellous work she is doing in empowering the future of Pakistan.
Kudos to you Yamna!
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