The growth of gender equality has been slower in some countries than others but you will always find influential women in every country. Pakistan is no exception to this and although, around the world there have been some negative views upon the woman in Pakistani society, there are many women in Pakistan who have created a name for themselves and had made their nation proud.
I’m highlighting six of the most powerful and inspirational Pakistani women. Hopefully, this article dispels some misconceptions that you may have or many people out there might have, about women in Pakistan.
1. Muniba Mazari
I believe in the power of words. Many people speak before they think but I know the value of words. They can make you, break you & they can heal your soul or they can damage you forever.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, she also established her brand Muniba Canvas with the slogan, ‘let your walls wear colors’. She has been representing the voice of women, men, girls and boys across Pakistan on important issues of gender inequality and discrimination. In December 2015, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women, named Muniba Mazari Pakistan first female Goodwill Ambassador. She was also one of the two Pakistanis to be named BBC’s 100 most inspirational woman in 2015. She’s also given motivational talks on platforms such as TEDx and she’s spoken at the Global Leadership Conference 2016 and many other platforms.
2. Roshaneh Zafar
Roshaneh is a brilliant woman and she’s behind the Kashf Foundation. The aim of the foundation is to spread awareness among working women in rural areas and to educate and provide them with funds in order to change their economic conditions. Its main focus is to provide micro financing to female lead small business startups.
Roshaneh Zafar has been educated at Yale University and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. She started her foundation after leaving her job at the World Bank. Today the Kashf Foundation has supported over 500,000 women and families in Pakistan. Roshaneh has put so much faith in the ability of Pakistani women and provided them with some great opportunities to grow, and the Pakistani women did not disappoint.
3. Jehan Ara
Jehan Ara is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Pakistan. She currently serves as president of Pasha and its tech incubator called the NEST I/O. Jehan Ara has been at the forefront of Pakistan’s tech industry for over a decade now. She is an advocate for cyber freedom and net neutrality. She spent much of her youth in Hong Kong. Jehan Ara has become highly sought after for events and talks and regularly supports tech innovation forums. In 2016, she was invited to the White house on behalf of Barack Obama to speak on entrepreneurship in Pakistan.
4. Kalsoom Lakhani
Kalsoom Lakhani also worked as a managing director in Social Vision. She got her bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in foreign affairs. She also holds a master’s degree from the George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs. Her achievements also include being the co-ambassador of Sandbox, which is an organization to connect young leaders from around the world. She’s also the founder of CHUP, ‘Changing up Pakistan’, which brings forth and creates awareness on social issues in Pakistan.
5. Marium Mukhtiar
Even though, Marium Mukhtiar is no longer with us, she made Pakistan and Pakistani woman in particular, extremely proud. She was among the handful of women who were working as a fighter pilot in Pakistan and was the first female combat pilot in Pakistan who went in on duty. At the age of 24 years, Marium passed away when her training aircraft crashed on November 2015. She will always be remembered as the first female pilot of the Pakistan Air Force.
We think that we’re inside of a box but all it takes for us is to just push the boundaries a little bit and we’ll be surprised what we can achieve.
6. Malala Yousafzai
Malala became known worldwide after targeted and shot in the face by the Taliban in Pakistan, in the year 2012, and remained in critical condition for several years. Malala has gained international fame ever since this attempt on her life and since then, she has opened a school for Syria refugees and has become the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17.
Malala Yousafzai is now one of the most prominent advocates for education in the world but what you might be surprise to find out is that she herself has engaged in activism at the age of 11 years. She began her work by writing blogs for the BBC but after her identity was revealed and film was made about her, that’s when she became the target of the Taliban. She was also named one of ‘Times 100 Most Influential People in The World’ in the year 2013.