Woman is a formation of God who is depicted as a sensitive and delicate creation but what we forget is that only a woman can be strong enough to bear the pain of giving birth to a child. Unfortunately, in Pakistan women are bound with many societal constraints which dissuades them to excel in their careers.
The question isn’t who is going to let me, the question is who is going to stop me.
Our society has built weird and obnoxious rules for women on no grounds claiming which field is best suited for them. In Pakistan, men are allowed to play on every field they like unlike females who are forced to sacrifice their own choices for the sake of looking after their families.
Times are changing and women are stepping up in many entrepreneurial activities, breaking all types of stereotypical gender norms. They are facing all the challenges head-on. Being a male dominant society, working women are prone to many trials and tests in their workplaces. Common issues like sexual harassment, performance pressures, biasness, discrimination, and lack of support by their team members are faced by every other woman working in organizations.
Here is a list of few young girls who came up with innovative ideas and didn’t let any barriers stop them from what they wanted to achieve.
Umaimah Mendhro – A girl from a small town who was always passionate to become an artist got lucky enough to get her Master’s degree in Business from Harvard and is now redefining the textile and fashion industry with technology. Her startup called Vida is an e-commerce site where the work of artists is directly printed on clothes. She has paired technology with her business in a way that designers across the world can send their designs and Vida uses direct-to-fabric digital printing which differentiates her idea from others. Initially, she had a hard time in finding textile manufacturers who can directly print the design onto high quality fabric but eventually found one in Pakistan. Currently there are six manufacturers working for Vida from India, Pakistan, and South America. Scanning the sketch directly on the fabric has helped in saving the cost of sample garments. This is not only cost effective but also saves time, resources and the customer gets his order completed within a week leading to value added service.
Maria Umar – is a woman who has a vision to make girls financially independent. After observing the culture of Pakistan, she came up with a plan of launching Women’s Digital League to empower girls specially from under privileged areas. The main goal of WDL is to provide educational opportunities and deliver training programs to polish their skills. In rural areas, a large number of girls have skills but don’t utilize them for earning. WDL provides them a platform to enhance their talent and become the bread earner of their families.
Jahan Ara – The lady who is now a prominent figure in the tech industry of Pakistan started off her career as a journalist. Her diverseexperience in the fields ofmarketing, HR, advertising, and PR makes her a multi-talented person. She is also known as a motivational speaker, and social activist. Currently she is the president of Pakistan Software Houses (P@SHA)-and also heads an incubator The NEST I/O. The team of The NEST I/O helps entrepreneurs in their new start-ups, providing them strategic training, mentoring and investment opportunities to expand their business ideas and contribute in the economy of the country.
Sidra Qasim – This lady came up with a dream of providing a platform to our craftsmen and craftswomen belonging to rural areas. Her idea of Markhor wasaccepted into Y Combinator. The company makes stylish and lavish handcrafted shoes which are sold in local and international markets. The company works on the mission of empowering its craftsmen by giving them high wages and working as a team to establish their self-esteem. Markhor focuses more on hiring women so that they can earn good money by utilizing their skills.
Kalsoom Lakhani – She has a versatile and dynamic personality with so much delivered for building Pakistan’s entrepreneurial eco system and strengthening Pakistan’s startups with international network. She is the founder and CEO of Invest2Innovate (i2i) since 2011 that supports startup groups in the fast growing competitive market. Since 2012, i2i has boosted 25 new businesses in Pakistan which have gone ahead to bring over $2.5M in capital, scaled their firms, created more than 4,000 employment opportunities and made their social and financial impact in the country.
Women empowerment is not an issue of third world countries but a global matter. The only difference comes in numbers. In our country, women are not aware of their rights because they are brought up in an environment where they are taught that the only responsibility they have is towards their families and husbands. The condition gets worst when women are forced to believe that tolerating violence is the only form of obedience. Poor education and suppressed environment makes them feel they worth nothing and that they have to lead their whole lives depending on others.
The good thing is that the shift has begun.
Many initiatives have been taken to create awareness about woman’s rights, providing them education, and creating opportunities for employment. Now, women are seen working in every profession but still it’s a long road to go and we hope that things turn out well for every single girl out there who dreams of making her own identity in this society.