“Women from the Pakistani Diaspora” is a series of self-portraits composed in Birmingham that explores the identity of Maryam’s mother as an 18 year old woman of Pakistani origin who emigrated to the United Kingdom. Maryam depicts these images by showcasing outfits that were worn by her mother over 35 years ago and by visiting the places that were significant to her mother’s life as a young migrant woman in Britain.
The women from the Pakistani diaspora who relocated to the the UK were very often the hardworking wives, daughters, mothers and grandmothers of individuals who had migrated from cities, towns and small villages in Pakistan. These individuals came to the UK to work in key industrial sectors and set up businesses that contributed towards the healthy economy of their new-found nation. Pakistani women provided a crucial envelopment of familiarity and comfort that gave their husbands, fathers, children and grandchildren a sense of their place of origin – making it a home away from home. Maryam’s self-portrait collection seeks to recognise the existence and achievements of such Pakistani women and their role as the backbone of a community that transformed inner-city Britain.
Today, British Pakistani women continue to revolutionise gender roles for other women through the determination, emotional support and encouragement of their female peer network.