“Educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate an entire community.” – African Proverb
As we enter the month of March, Women’s Day is perhaps the first thing that pops in to one’s head. There are many women in Pakistan who are making their mark in the world across various field. Their fearless attitude and ambition has led them to achieve great heights in all the fields they have ventured in to.
Some women that have done exceptional things in their life, and we have tried our best to present them to you for all their accolades.
Do you know who the first Pakistani is to travel the space? It’s Namira Salim, who is a poet, artist and the founder of SpaceTrust, a non-profit initiative that promotes Space as the New Frontier for Peace. She went to Columbia for a Masters in International Affairs, became a honorary diplomat of Monaco, and was one of the earliest Founders of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial space liner.
String theory is a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings. It describes how these strings propagate through space and interacts with each other. Now surprisingly Pakistan doesn’t produce string theorists by a dozen, Tasneem Zahra Husain is Pakistan’s first female string theorist. She’s also the writer of fictional novel Only the Longest Threads, a scientist and an educator at LUMS.
Another female scientist that has her roots from Pakistan is astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala who is heading a department at MIT and was part of the team that detected gravitational waves which was hypothesized by Albert Einstein almost a century ago.
Helping to bring energy to 6750 households and given clean energy loans to 12,000 female entrepreneurs is Fiza Farhan, CEO Buksh Foundation, a non-profit from Lahore that helps train village women to spread solar energy throughout rural Pakistan.
When it comes to the IT industry perhaps everyone knows of her, Jehan Ara is the President of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA), she is also heading the P@SHA’s technology incubation center in Karachi called The Nest I/O. Notable names in the industry include Maria Umar, Nighat Dad, Salma Jafri and many many more!
Women are transforming the world and Pakistan for the better. Jamila & Rabika are the young talented computer engineers from Benazir Bhutto University. This pair grew up in an area surrounded by gunshots, gang war, mobs etc but in an attempt to change their city with an android app called Wannaping. The app builds a community around the city’s various issues and alerts government and non-government authorities as well as media channels so that problems can be resolved efficiently.
Throughout the country incubators and startups alike have been actively trying to empower their women be it in the form of WECREATE, WomenX, SheForBusiness partnerships, SheSkills, Circle Women, WeCon, Code for Pakistan’s initiative Girls Can Code, Herself by Punjab IT Board, and PlanX’s Power Women program.
Cab hailing giant Careem also has introduced female captains into their company as an initiative to empower women. Then of course, there are Travly Raanis where you can hail a pink rickshaw driven by a woman!
Celebrated startup and Pakistan’s first music streaming platform Patari has dedicated a playlist to honor the talented female singers in the country. Do check it out.
Also get ready for Pakistan’s first Women International Film Festival (WIFF) being held on the 11th and 12th of March 2017, at the Pakistan National Council of Arts Islamabad, from 4.30pm – 7pm. The film festival was launched last year in March and stirred a great response. The event will be screening the top films made and submitted by female filmmakers from around the world, on the themes of Gender Equity, Violence Against Women and Women of Wonder, with an aim to create an interactive experience between filmmakers, film lovers, and like-minded individuals.
The local industry participation is not limited to this article’s list. These are just some of the initiatives and organizations that we would like to highlight. For more, read responses to our #IWD2017 series.