Women Entrepreneurs-Breaking the Barriers

“With the rise in tech startup culture in the country, many women in technology are also finding their way on the topWork and Women”, these two W’s might make men think for a while if they’re getting anywhere in life. Gone are the days when women were only to represent the household chores. Now women are more educated and well versed with latest trends than ever before and the seats of power within many organizations have been taken by the women.

With the rise in tech startup scene in the country, many women in technology are also finding their way on the top.

Technology transformation in Pakistan is also thriving at a great pace and with that, tech startups have become an attractive business case. According to Jehan Ara, the pioneering woman in technology who made a remarkable name in the industry said that when she opened her startup incubator Nest I/O, only one woman applied in the first batch. In the latest one, however, around 35% of the applicants were women.

Despite all the hardships faced by the women on daily basis, we have seen a tremendous gain for women in three major areas i.e. education, rights, and leadership. This has removed all kinds of gender inequalities. Women are now contributing billions not just to the local community but internationally as well. Thanks to the flexible working environment, enhanced technology and obviously the change in attitude towards working women, women from different age groups, careers and backgrounds are moving towards startup business. The people in startup industry today are educated and open minded towards women. They don’t care about stereotypical ideas about women’s role in work. This change in the mindset of opposite gender has greatly supported women in the technology sector. According to last year’s Stanford University’s survey, 60% of women working in Silicon Valley have experienced some kind of harassment in the workplace but fortunately, in Pakistan, the situation is completely opposite.

According to [email protected]’s survey, more than 55% of Pakistani women consider IT sector a good industry to work in because there is no harassment and they are appreciated for their work.

The environment in IT industry is very conducive for women but I believe that one of the biggest upside in technology is the start of internet and e-commerce era that has leveraged the field for female entrepreneurs. It has enabled women to interact with clientele over the internet, without the need to directly contact them. This has made it much easier for women to pursue their career goals. A woman in business is not an unusual thing anymore, not even in Pakistan. There are many women who have built strong institutions and brands on their own and this is not restricted to fashion industry alone. Today’s woman is much smarter and tech-savvy who knows that future is digital.

In Pakistan, the inspiration of gender equality and women empowerment comes from the vision of our founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who said,

“No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you”.

At the same time, our constitution assures equal rights for women without any discrimination on the basis of sex, color, and race. Moreover, it makes sure that women participate in all spheres of national life. Jehan Ara is a woman tech veteran who needs no introduction but there are many other names that are an inspiration for Pakistan girls. Talk about Sheba Najmi- a Stanford University graduate, a veteran user experience designer and product strategist, Code for America fellow, an entrepreneur and most importantly the founder of Code for Pakistan. This brilliant lady also founded “Tech for Change” which is a non-profit organization that works to eradicate public and social problems of Pakistan by bringing entrepreneurs, developers and designers together over one platform. This talented young lady has also worked as the lead designer of Yahoo mail for several years.

Women cannot lead from the front”- Anusha Rehman broke this stereotype and proved this statement wrong by doing so much for our Telecom and IT industry. She came up with a brilliant idea of providing a communication platform which enables real-time sharing between parents, teachers, students, and administrators known as MySmacEd. This edtech startup raised seed funding earlier this year, valuing the company at US$2 million. Saba Gul, another successful woman, whose education not only benefited her but also the under-privileged. She is a successful entrepreneur that runs a non-profit organization Popinjay (previously named BLISS), which helps girls, and their families of Pakistan, living below the poverty line to get an education. They are taught languages (English and Urdu) Mathematics and lessons on skills and entrepreneurship. These are only a few of the women who serve as a strong role model for young girls, so when they see women from their own circle standing up front and taking leadership positions, the hopes for their own accomplishments become more real.

Empowering women to participate in economic life across all sectors is necessary to create a stronger economy and to achieve growth and sustainability

Pakistan has a projected population of 188 million of which women constitute half the population. Therefore, empowering women to participate in economic life across all sectors is necessary to create a stronger economy in order to achieve growth and sustainability on an international level and most importantly to improve the quality of life; not just for women but families and communities as a whole. There is no doubt that women have the potential to break the barriers and get to the top.

Author: Yumna Ashfaq

Onsa Mustafa

Onsa is a Software Engineer and a tech blogger focuses on innovation in technology. She likes music, photography, traveling and exploring nature.
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