Muhammad Moiz: Reconciling Human Rights Activism with Culture

Moiz is a Pakistani physician, activist and social media sensation. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Health at George Washington University on a Fulbright Scholarship. A few years ago, Moiz developed the viral Snapchat character – ‘Shumaila Bhatti’, who explores the challenges women face living in Pakistan’s male-dominated society.

This story is part of a virtual exhibition, “I Am Mohammed”, produced by Narmeen Haider and Aanjalie Collure. The project aims to subvert stereotypes by showcasing the stories of people – of all ages, sexes and nationalities – that bear the name ‘Mohammed”.

“My name is Muhhamad Moiz and I’m from Pakistan. Right now I’m in Washington, DC and I’m studying global health policy at George Washington University. I would like to call myself a multi-potentialite. A multi-potentialite is someone who cannot be defined by just one career path or just one thing that they like to do, given there’s so much that they find entertaining and worthy enough of their time.


I went to med school, studied to be a doctor and absolutely hated the hospital, which influenced my radical decision of shifting to public health. For the past two years, I was in Pakistan, working on HIV protection among the LGBT communities in South Asia, but mainly focusing on Pakistan. I have been a human rights activist in Pakistan as far back as my high school years, and the issues that really hit home for me and I’m inspired to work on are deradicalization among youth in my province (as I’m from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where a lot of radicalization and extremism occurs), women’s rights, child sexual abuse, and LGBT rights. These are issues that I’m still very concerned about and put as much work in as I can.


What has been my biggest challenge in my life so far is reconciling my work with the culture that I come from because Pakistan happens to be such a multi-layered society.There’s a layer of masculinity, then there’s a layer of traditionalism; a layer of religion, a layer of nationalism, a layer of privacy, and not being too public about what you believe in. I’m just navigating my space between all of those very dynamic, yet rigid layers that make working on the issues and causes that I believe in the biggest challenge for me.”

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