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Thelma Golden

Oscar-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy ’02 has a message for the women of Pakistan: “Don't give up on your dreams.”

Through a celebrated career as a journalist and documentarian that began at Smith, where she received funding from the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute for her first documentary, Obaid-Chinoy has been using storytelling and film to "get the ball rolling toward social change" in a region where women's rights and education for girls are never guaranteed.

This mission received a major boost in 2012 when Obaid-Chinoy won the Oscar for her groundbreaking documentary Saving Face, which chronicles the plight of women victims of disfiguring acid attacks in her native Pakistan. Her Oscar win—a first for a Pakistani filmmaker—has helped usher in major changes in the country's legal system. The media attention the film has generated has led to new laws and harsher punishments for perpetrators of these heinous crimes.

The film is also the impetus for Obaid-Chinoy's ongoing work with Project SAAVE (Stand Against Acid Violence), which partners with international organizations to provide medical care and support to survivors of acid attacks around the world.

Last year, in recognition of her work and advocacy, Time magazine named Obaid-Chinoy to its list of the world's "100 Most Influential People."

"There are things that you and I take for granted every single day that we should not," she says. "There are so many women in this world today who have zero rights. All they have is their dignity."

Thanks to Obaid-Chinoy, these women now also have a voice.