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Appreciate single mothers and just be there for them: Sana Nawaz | The Express Tribune

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In a heart-to-heart conversation with Adnan Faisal on his podcast, actor Sana Nawaz shared her views on the daily stigma endured by women across Pakistan. As a woman in the showbiz industry and a single mother, Sana proved she is no stranger to the unsolicited judgement of strangers. 

“My life is totally challenging as an actor,” she remarked, batting away the oft-held view that television stars have it easy. “Plus I am a woman and single mother. Single mothers don’t deserve to be judged. They should be acknowledged and encouraged. Appreciate them. Just be there for them.” 

Prejudice against women 

Oozing positivity in a bright yellow blazer and a green top, the Yeh Dil Aapka Huwa actor took the bull by the horns and disputed society’s perception of single mothers. Raising two boys following her split from her husband of fourteen years, Sana noted, “People assume that because I’m an actor, I have an army of help, and that makes it easy. But whether or not you have help, even as an actor, you are still under the same pressure because of how society views you.”

Sana pinpointed how it is not just single mothers who face intense pressure, but also unmarried women who step out of the house to make a living. Her latest project, Bano Bike Wali, challenges long-held stereotypes, and Sana recollected the inspirational stories of the women she met along the way. 

“One of the girls who had a cameo was worried that she had no one who would even think about finding her a husband,” recalled Sana. “She was so upset because she had no father, a sick mother, a sister, and a brother who had moved out. Yet she went out every day to work. I told her, ‘To me, you are the real hero. You are the real inspiration.’”

With so many women needing to use motorcycles to get to work, Sana finds it unfathomable that a woman on a bike should be subject to derision and censure. “I’ve been biking since I was 11, and now, people let it slide because I’m a celebrity. But all girls should have that choice. In a country with so much poverty, a bike is a necessity. It is just a vehicle! Not a strigma! Who wants to get pushed around on a bus when they can zip around on a bike? Women don’t deserve to be judged for it.” 

In between sustaining sips of tea, Sana acknowledged her own privilege and stressed, “I have a platform that I can use to get people to take me seriously. They know my voice, my face. But these girls who defy expectations and leave their home to work – they don’t deserve to be judged on what they’re wearing and how they’re getting about! I know a lot of girls going through this and have a lot of respect for them.”

Such respect has Sana for the humble working woman that when she spotted a mother on a bike with two boys, possibly dropping them to school in the morning, she had to stop and applaud her publicly. “This woman had a dupatta wrapped around her face, and I could just tell the hustle she had gone through to get her boys ready and out on the road. I stopped the car and clapped for her and told her, ‘You deserve this clap.’”

Keeping fit

Segueing to women in sports, Sana is adamant that girls should be encouraged to become active, although in her view, the freedom of a woman to achieve such a goal can only be amplified by the attitude of the men in her life. “I think that whenever there is any girl who progresses in sports, you should interview the men in her life – her father, her brother, her husband,” she said. “That is where you will find the real story. These are the men who give women their confidence and freedom. People view confidence as a negative thing. But they really shouldn’t.”

Sana herself is committed to fitness, and has even posted YouTube workout videos. “My main motivation to stay fit is to hear people acknowledge it!” Asked if she had any tips for anyone wanting to lose weight, Sana remarked that people who truly want to get fit are proactive enough to find their own way. “Those who want to do it, do it themselves,” she mused. “And the ones who want to ask about fitness just ask. They aren’t too interested.”

Remembering your worth

Turning her attention to the increasingly damning nature of social media, Sana lamented that life has become much harder for emerging actors. “People don’t give a thought for a single minute anymore and are very vocal now. Everything is out in the open.”

Whilst Sana has no regrets about any decisions she has made in her career, good or bad, she cautioned how imperative it is to learn from mistakes. “A blessing with me is that the mistakes I made were my own,” she said. “I owned my mistakes. But the more you progress, you have to be very conscious, otherwise your mistakes will become your identity.”  

Advising viewers to not get bogged down with failure, however, Sana urged, “When someone criticises you, remember that you are human and accept it. Just tell yourself that you won’t do it again. Maturity doesn’t come with age. Life’s experiences teach you. The one who has faced the most challenges is the strongest.” 

Having prevailed through the many challenges life has thrown her way, Sana continues to be a champion for her fellow women. 

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