Woman of Substance, Huma Masood.
Born in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh Dr. Huma Masood spent her childhood between Lucknow and Bareilly. She was bought up in a Ganga-Jamni culture (fusion of Hindu and Muslim elements) which taught her to be accommodating to all religions and cultures. In the last 15 years with UNESCO, she has worked for several global initiatives from policy work to fundraising for the education sector with a focus on girls, women and youth. Her work also involves designing, developing and managing the UNESCO education programs and projects within the framework of the EFA(Efforts towards achieving education for all).
Currently Dr. Huma Masood is working for UNESCO as a Programme Officer, Gender and Education (fund raising) in the Education section. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree and MPhil in Regional Development from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi India. She has also worked in different capacities with the development Cooperation of Canadian CIDA, Indian Council for Child welfare (ICCW), Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary studies, for issues like Child and Women’s Rights and empowerment, Disability, Skills, Literacy, etc
She loves painting, travelling and playing golf.
She believes “ By educating the women we can educate the whole nation, because a country can never rise without the contribution of its 50% population. Swami Vivekananda once said that, It is impossible to think about the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is impossible for a bird to fly on only one wing.”
Dr. Huma Masood is a self motivated woman. Poised, well dressed and intelligent. I am sure you would feel inspired after reading CuppaLife of Huma Masood, more than 15 years with her career and passion she has promoted education, training and professional development for women.
Dr. Huma’s favourite books are : The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahri, Deepak Chopra’s: The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes: Harnessing Our Power to Change the World, A P J Kalam And Srijan : Reignited: scientific pathways to a brighter future and Anita Desai’s The Peacock
Her favorite character in Indian Mythology is Lord Krishna
Favorite movie is Tareh Zameen Par(Bollywood) and Blood Diamond(Hollywood)
Favorite Actor is Priyanka Chopra as Mary Kom
UrCuppaLife: Dr. Huma, who is your inspiration?
Dr. Huma: “One word woman, all age groups and from different parts of the world, different professions. They are all amazing”.
My personal life inspirations are drawn from my grandmother, my father and a disciplined but an affectionate mother. Specially from my grand aunt who set up the Avadh college and Talimgah-e-Niswan Inter college, Lucknow. I belong to a family where my grandmother rode horses and my own mother rebelliously burned all her synthetic clothes for the freedom struggle. Even today my mother who is in her 80’s stands up with respect to the national anthem. I am inspired by all.
UrCuppaLife : As you mentioned you like to travel, what are the places that you have travelled and what do you bring back each time you travel?
Dr. Huma: I always bring back a souvenigner each time I visit a new place and now my cabinet is overflowing. I have travelled for both work and pleasure to countries such as Bangkok, Bhutan, China , Czechoslovakia , France, Egypt , Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Korea (South), Lebanon, Maldives, Nepal, Russia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Turkey, UAE, UK. There are so many places I have yet to see. But all countries are inspiring in one way or the other. Every time i travel whether it is for family or work i bring back memories and learn about the history, culture and the lifestyle of the place.
I would like to add that all places have something to offer, to teach and to learn from. Some places have discipline others may have proper cleanliness and good etiquettes and manners. Many placed have diverse and rich traditional/tribal and beautiful cultures. Some places are poised in work ethics, value their heritage and practice humbleness and happiness. There are many countries that are scientifically and technologically advanced and many have commendable environmental values.
UrCuppaLife : Would you like to share any initiatives you that you have been part of for woman education?
Dr. Huma: I have been working for the last 15 years with UNESCO, a leading UN agency for Education, Science and Culture where gender equality is one of its two global priorities. I have worked for several global initiatives to mention a few: Global Partnership on Girls’ & Women’s Education; Empowering Girls & Women through Literacy & Secondary Education; Global Alliance on Media and Gender (GAMAG); Gender Sensitive Indicators for Media; UNESCO’s Radio Programs; GEFI (Global Education First Initiative); UNiTE to End Violence against Women, Feeding Minds Fighting Hunger; EFA, Women’s Empowerment in Conflict regions, Youth Empowerment programs (He-for-She)
UrCuppaLife: Huma, you have worked on so many projects on gender equality and women empowerment, what are your personal thoughts on women’s education and empowerment.
Dr. Huma: Surely, the empowerment of girls and women is the new frontier for human rights in the 21st century. I believe that development is not sustainable if it is unequal and this is why we must do far more together to uphold the human rights and potential of every girl and women.
Gender equality and empowerment through education is a global priority for all countries. One of the seven Women’s Empowerment Principles are “Promote education, training and professional development for women” and i have made it my personal priority also. I hope all the citizens of the world will join for this priority to make a better world, provide access to knowledge and genuine possibilities for girls and women to become everything they wish to become and to make their own informed choices.
UrCuppaLife: In the same light what are the benefits for the society by educating women?
Dr. Huma: The famous Chinese quote: “If you wish to plan for a year, plant wheat, if you wish to plant for 10 years, grow trees, if you wish to plan for 100 years educate your women”, this specifies the importance of women’s education for any society. Even the famous French military and political leader Napoleon Bonaparte, who rose to prominence for the French Revolution said that, “Give me an educated mother, I shall promise you the birth of a civilized nation”.
Educationists are of the opinion that the mother is the first educator of the child. Educated women are more likely to educate their own children and be more conscious about their rights and obligations. Another advantage is that literate women can run their household in a better way, they are more futuristic with a tangible aim in life. The role of women outside the home is becoming an important aspect of the social and economic life of the country. It is the duty of the government to provide adequate facilities for the education of women “because if we educate a women/girl, we educate the whole family”.
UrCuppaLife: What is the need of the hour?
Dr. Huma: Education is essential to achieving all of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were adopted by the UN General Assembly in New York, 25-27 September 2015. It was considered necessary to eradicate poverty, boost shared prosperity and broad-based economic growth, and build peaceful, tolerant societies. Efforts have to be made towards achieving Education for all (EFA) goals, but personally, I feel countries have worked a lot on the parity (Gender parity) over the past 15 years but unevenly on gender equality. Therefore, we need to question ourselves on issues like to what extend our education systems have become more gender responsive and at the end more capable of contributing to Sustainable Development Goals. Secondly, we can’t dispel the need for working with other sectors: health, nutrition, economic growth and development, peace and security, climate and disaster issues, decent work.
Education is the foundation for progressing on all other goals, but improvement in nutrition and health are also fundamental to children attending and learning once in school (India has a mid-day meal scheme which needs urgent attention). It’s also important to getting out of the silos which would be a challenge in this sub-region.
Last but not the least, “Money matters for inclusive growth”, therefore stress on funding aid, getting partnerships (PPP), Foundations, Philanthropy and increased allocations in country budgets for education but also efficient and effective spending.
UrCuppaLife: Digital India – You changed your profile picture like the rest of India?
Dr. Huma: Interestingly, when I created my profile picture using fb.com/supportdigitalindia. I got several likes, but a friend commented: “FB screwed you over. Changing your display picture means you just voted against net neutrality!”.
To which my response is following: “First of all, it is the Indian regulator which will decide how Internet.org will be implemented. If at all, this is a ploy, you will recall, that lots of us signed the petition against Internet.org and vehemently criticized and will continue to support #saveinternet. I believe in our democracy, “Ballot is stronger than bullies”. I also believe what will work in India is not just “Information way (i-way) but “Inclusive high way” since we have a lot of diversity and we are a pluralistic society.
UrCuppaLife: Do you think Digital India is a necessity of time?
Dr. Huma: Can you imagine yourself growing up with no computer, no internet, no cell phones – like your previous generations did? If someone made a ridiculous claim, you couldn’t just Google it; you kind of had to believe them.
Today we have entered the age of the internet of things. Technologies such as self driving cars, 3D printers, delivery drones, and space tourism are becoming possible. Digital knowledge and know how is the 21st century skills which we cannot and should not deny to this and our future generations. It’s important to make education systems more innovative, equitable and impactful through the use of digital means. Digital India is a necessity of time not a luxury.
UrCuppaLife: What are your biggest learning from Life – that you can share with our readers?
Dr. Huma: Each phase in your life brings learnings, but what is most important is “Life, Work and Self”. Therefore, keeping “work life balance” is a must and “Your Life live it” should be the motto throughout the various phases of your life.
Few things that I have learned in my personal & professional life are, never be afraid to ask and always be willing to help others, it could be worthwhile. Always be aware of one’s own strengths and try to leverage them whenever possible. Recognize when you need help or when to pass on a task to someone who is better at it.
Personally, I like to try out new things, whether it is a new gadget, a new app or a new technology. I am not afraid to adapt. I am good at prioritizing and like to plan things at work and at home/social life. Of course, having a supportive family (Parents, Sister Uzma, Brother Hasan, Lovely sis in law Sabina, adorable nieces Zoya and Fariha Hasan husband Dr. Syed Siddique Hasan and my slice of life daughter Syed Sofia Hasan) they all make it work for me. Friends…list is endless.