Dr. Fakhara Rizwan is an Author, a Certified Director, and a qualified corporate lawyer (Doctorate in Corporate Laws from International Islamic University Malaysia). She is distinguished as the only Pakistani with a doctorate in corporate laws governing takeover and merger activity in Pakistan. Her articles on corporate laws and social issues have been published in several law journals and newspapers. She has authored a book on ‘Corporate Takeovers and Mergers –A Study on the Banks Role as Adviser’, a founding work on the subject and its two editions are already published.
Dr Fakhara is a Certified Financial Crime Specialist and member of the Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists –an internationally recognized, elite standard association for financial crime compliance professionals in over 80 countries and jurisdictions. The certification allows banking and corporate compliance officers, law enforcement investigators, regulators, auditors and others to skillfully detect and prevent the broad array of risks that is the new reality of financial crime.
She is a director of the Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance and a member of the MIA Arbitration, Mediation & Conciliation Center. The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan has approved her as a supervisor to supervise PhD candidates. She teaches law and governance as a visiting faculty at various prestigious institutions and universities.
Host: What motivated you to choose the Legal sector as a work domain, and how has your career span been?
Dr. Fakhara: Like most underdeveloped countries, Pakistan has a flawed justice system, which needs reforms to protect its citizens’ fundamental rights and dignity. The traumatic social system with clear discrimination against women was one of the primary motivations for joining the law profession.
My academic and professional journey speaks about my innovative and courageous approach. I decided to be a lawyer, although it is a male-dominated profession in Pakistan. Then I moved to Malaysia soon after completing my LLB and proved myself there.
I wanted to be a criminal lawyer, but when I moved to Malaysia, I realised corporate law would provide me with more opportunities, so I opted for that. I did Doctorate in Corporate Law from International Islamic University Malaysia. I am distinguished as the only Pakistani with a doctorate in corporate laws governing takeover and merger activity in Pakistan. Being a PhD scholar, I play quite an effective role in academia as asupervisor of the candidates for PhD. I teach law and governance as a visiting faculty at various prestigious institutions and leading universities.
From doing PhD in corporate law to becoming a Certified Financial Crime Specialist, my choices have been unique and challenging but rewarding for myself, my society, academia and the corporate sectors of Pakistan.
I advocate continuous professional growth and periodically undertake international courses to embrace technology and artificial intelligence to fit in the fast-changing tech era. My close association with academia also help me to be updated and prepare for future challenges.
I have authored a book on ‘Corporate Takeovers and Mergers –A Study on the Banks Role as Adviser’, a founding work on the subject and two editions of the same are already published. My articles on corporate law and social issues have been published in several law journals and newspapers. Besides, I am poetess by nature. Three editions of my book AdhuriTakmeel have already been published.
Host: What are the different challenges youfaced while working in the field of law?
Dr. Fakhara: In developing countries like Pakistan, there are many obstacles forwomen lawyers, but the hardest obstacle encountered by women lawyers throughout their careers is the pervasiveness of gender-based inequality and the lack of resources available to them in terms of supportive laws and mentoring to address the issues.
Men tend to dominate the legal profession, with mostly men in leadership positions.Althoughthe nobility of the legal profession directly results from its association with the sacred resolution of doing justice, women lawyers are not provided just and fair opportunities.
I was discouraged from studying law, perhaps due to society’s perceptions of the profession and the level of male dominance. Soon after my graduation in law, I went to Malaysia and started my career as a lawyer. Meanwhile, I continued my education and did LLM and PhD. In Malaysia, I was fortunate to work with MrJadadesh Chandra, a true advocate of increasing women’s representation in senior positionsof status, influence and economic reward. His mentorship played a great role in making me a strong person and a lawyer. The challenges I faced in this male-dominated profession strengthened me to be an accomplished lawyer and in-house counsel..
Host: Given your demanding role as a senior executive of the Pakistan Stock Exchange, your commitments towards academia and being the mother of a teenager and a young child, how do you manage to create a work-life balance that allows you to write on various issues etc.?
Dr. Fakhara: For every working woman, especially mothers, one of the common challenges is balancing their role as homemakers and managing their professional responsibilities. My daughter was only four years old when I started working in Malaysia -I was a struggling lawyer, a student and the primary caregiver for my daughter. I devoted myself to the family but never let it be a hurdle in pursuing serious career objectives. Indeed, it motivated me to be a supportive member of the family and a financially independent person.
When I came to Pakistan, I joined the banking sector, which is well-known for long working hours,but I take pride that I changed that culture,at least to the extent of my area of influence/departments. It wasn’t easy to make people realise that true dedication is efficiency, not long hours of idle sitting.
I believe the work-life balance has different meanings for everyone. It is achievable if one defines it realistically and sets boundaries accordingly. The balanced work-life indeed helped me progress in a male-dominated society and profession while leading a fulfilling life, taking care of my family especially my parents, and managing time for my self-development activities, writing, travelling and other hobbies.
Host: what are your thoughts about workplace harassment, especially sexual harassment against working women?
Dr. Fakhara: Workplace harassment and abuse, especially against women, occur with great frequency worldwide, but its percentage is higher in underdeveloped countries like Pakistan, with a lower representation of women in the workforce. Almost every second woman experiences sexual harassment during their working life, but only a minority reports it. Despite the studies that indicate that workplace harassment causes psychological distress, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and symptoms, the current system in Pakistan has proven insufficient to prevent workplace harassment.
This subject is very close to my heart. I help develop prevention strategies, including clearly stated policies that provide employees and policymakers with proper training and sanctioned tools to prevent any harassment at the workplace, including sexual harassment.
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