- University Life
Prior to International Women's Day, we reached out to our fans on social media and asked them to nominate Pakistani women who inspire them most. We are honored to share the work that these inspirational Pakistani women have accomplished. To view the complete list of nominees, visit our Women's Day 2014 album on Facebook.
Our International Women's Day initiative grew to a bigger campaign to showcase inspiring Pakistani women who lead in the areas of human rights, education, business, and government. Our inspiring women are listed below. To nominate an inspiring Pakistani woman, email us at womenscouncil (at) american (dot) edu.
Mashall is the winner of our International Women's Day competition "Miss Inspiration 2014."
Mashall is a graduate of Georgetown University and the founder of the Reading Room Project (RRP). The project provides computer literacy to students from low-income families for free, by bringing its own resources, curriculum and, most importantly, its own method of implementation into a public school. RRP was created with the objective of creating a supportive environment to access online educational tools to boost learning outcomes and curiosity of the world and internet. Mashall, also a social entrepreneur, was selected for her innovation and desire to make wide-scale change in Pakistan by introducing technology to students in low-income communities.
Determined to bring social change through media, Huma studied graphic design at the London School of Communications, then pursued training in television program production. Which led her to produce documentaries on the impact of floods in Pakistan, poverty alleviation, and other international development issues.
Huma's documentaries have been screened at numerous international film festivals. She has won a Sony Award in Japan, and her work has been recognized by the British Medical Association in the United Kingdom. For her service in media, she was awarded "Champion of Reform" in Pakistan.
Huma setup Serendip Productions in Pakistan, which has grown into a leading production company specializing in healthcare and development. Today, she supports a soon-to-launch initiative called the "Ministry of Change," which allows citizens to directly contribute to Pakistan's development through the internet.
In addition to being a filmmaker, Huma sits as a board member of Adventure Foundation Pakistan and the National Paralympic Committee Pakistan and is Pakistan's first woman hot air balloonist. She is an avid skydiver, mountaineer, artist and broadcaster. She enjoys traveling and speaks multiple languages.
Sheba Najmi is the founder of Code for Pakistan, which is a non-profit community of programmers, designers, GIS mappers and community organizers, who use their skills to innovate public services by creating open source web and mobile technologies that address Pakistan's needs.
After nearly seven years as the Design Lead at Yahoo!, Najmi joined a "peace corps of geeks," as a Code for America 2012 Fellow. There, she led the development of open source applications, trained employees, and organized the first Civic Write-a-thon in Honolulu.
In 2013, she launched Pakistan's first Civic Hackathon in Karachi. Two Successful Hackathons in Peshawar and Karachi soon followed.
She is in the process of implementing a Lahore Brigade (in partnership with KP Government and the World Bank) that will continue to deploy applications so they can have a positive impact on Pakistanis.
Sumaira Khan has been described by as "someone the world will know." Sumaira comes from a family that places high value on education. She is the third woman in her family to fight for the improvement of education for women in Pakistan. Growing up, Sumaira saw her mother establish a high school for girls in their village.
Sumaira currently studies at the University of Iowa on a competitive scholarship to gain skills and conduct research. She was one of 29 scholars in Pakistan chosen for a five-year USAID scholarship to earn her doctorate. Sumaira is aware of the country's discrepancies in education between Pakistani men and women. Cultural norms also discourage co-education and women from living away from home to reach their educational goals. It is particularly difficult for women who don't live near cities and universities, who face more challenges to earn their college degree.
Sumaira's future plans include opening a women's university in Pakistan. She knows it won't be easy but is determined to make her dreams a reality. "My objective is to contribute to society," she said as she successfully convinced families to send their daughters to school. Getting girls to attend school "was like the first ray of light in the darkness of ignorance in my village," she said.
Her research at the University of Iowa includes challenges that female leaders face in education. Through her research, she is able to compare challenges faced by American and Pakistani women.
This week's inspiring woman is Hina Usmani, founder of Usmani & Co. Chartered Accountants, the only women led accounting practice in Pakistan. She started in 2004 as a sole proprietor, and then was joined by firm partner Nigar Fatima, becoming the only female led accounting firm. Usmani & Co. provide audit, accounting, tax, and corporate advisory services. As qualified chartered accountants, from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP), Usmani & Co. are recognized by ICAP as the only women led accounting firm that serves as a training organization.
Hina’s primary focus is to provide financial services to women entrepreneurs. Usmani & Co. helps build clients’ businesses through strategic planning, focusing on core values, and offering integrated financial and business solutions. Their clients range from companies and non-profit organizations to individuals. By staying connected to her clients, Hina is able to provide excellent taxation, cost audit, and risk management services. Throughout the years, Usmani & Co. have earned a reputation for being a quality service provider and staying true to the ICAP code of ethics quality control principles.
Along with being a qualified chartered accountant, Hina is a qualified corporate secretary from the Institute of Corporate Secretaries of Pakistan (ICSP). As a fellow member of the Institute, she possesses more than 20 years of experience in corporate advisory, leasing, financial management, risk management and corporate secretarial practices.
-is a committee member of the Chartered Accountants Women Forum (CAWF) and serves as a board member of local NGOs;
- is a certified director of the Corporate Governance Leadership Program conducted by Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance;
-was previously, a member of the Technical Committee of Auditing Standards Committee of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan;
-regularly attends international and local courses on leasing, corporate governance, taxation, corporate advisory, planning and budgeting.
Anum Imtiaz is the co-founder of Nano-Tech, a high-quality innovative water filtration and treatment system that provides affordable, safe drinking water using green technology.
Anum, armed with her MS in Environmental Sciences wanted to use her education to solve to real world problems. She dedicated herself to nanotechnology early on because she felt it could change the world.
Traditional water purification methods are inefficient, costly, and many times wasteful. So Anum developed Nano-tech, a two chamber water filtration system that processes tap water into clean drinking water by removing 99.9% of bacteria, without electricity and at a low cost. First particles including dust, odor, and taste are removed from water through activated carbons, then bacteria, viruses, and metals are removed as water is processed through a microfiltration chamber, resulting in pure, safe drinking water.
The system is currently in testing phase, but that hasn’t stopped Anum and her team from entering competition and winning prizes for their innovative water purifying system.
Second place in the 2013 Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) competition
Second place in the 2013 Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (RCC&I) business plan competition
If these recognitions weren’t enough, Anum is also a good table tennis player. She won the 2012 IESE Table Tennis Tournament in singles and doubles competition.
This week's inspiring woman is Dr. Sania Nishtar. Early in her career, Dr. Nishtar served as Pakistan's first woman cardiologist. She left her lucrative career in cardiology to establish an NGO/think-tank Heartfile, which today is the most powerful health policy voice and catalyst for health care reform in Pakistan and is recognized as a model for replication in other developing countries. She also founded Pakistan's Health Policy Forum and Heartfile Financing, a program to protect people against healthcare inefficiencies.
Dr. Nishtar is renowned for her work both at home and abroad. She is a member of the World Health Organization's task force, on the board of the International Union for Health Promotion, World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Well-being and Mental Health, and the Clinton Global Initiative.
As a key health policy voice in Pakistan, Dr. Nishtar produced the first compendium of health statistics and has authored several books. Her latest book, "Choked Pipes," which serves as the model for Pakistan's first national public health plan. She is a voice to catalyze change at the broader governance level in Pakistan.
Dr. Nishtar currently holds a Fellowship at the Royal College of Physicians and a Ph.D from Kings College, London.
Shah Rukh is founder and owner of SMARTEK, an interior design business that designs, renovates, constructs, and implements space planning with complete turnkey solutions for corporate clients in Pakistan.
In 2011, SMARTEK had been in operation for 6 years. Shah had 1 partner and 13 employees. With a vision to grow her business and improve her employee’s lives through better employer practices, Shah decided to attend Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Successful female entrepreneurs are not common in Pakistan where women fill traditional roles. As one of the only women running a interior design business, Shah decided she must work harder than her peers to prove herself and to be accepted in a male dominated field. Women face additional challenges in the business world such as: lower levels and quality of education, lack access to finance and property rights, social pressures often including their own family, lack of available childcare, limited decision making power, and a lack of equal rights. For Shah, perseverance has been key. When she started her business, she was living and working out of her car until she was able to earn an income from her business.
Since 2011, Shah has hired 5 additional full time employees, and has a team of over 12 part time employees. Shah has been active in local business forums, which she finds are helpful for brainstorming solutions to common challenges and spreading best practices. She has mentored women; three of whom have gone on to start their own businesses. Shah is encouraged by the hard work and perseverance of Pakistani women; despite hardships, these women uphold commitments and work hard to succeed.
In 2012, Shah was recognized by the Arabia 500 + Turkey and was listed on the Allworld Network’s Pak100, a list of the top 100 companies in Pakistan. In 2013, Goldman Sachs chose to bring Shah to New York to participate in a panel on women’s entrepreneurial success as part of the Clinton Global Initiative.
From a young age Anam Asif dreamed of becoming the first female engineer of her family. She worked tirelessly and is now one of the most successful young women in her field.
She studied chemical engineering as an undergraduate. Then served as a research assistant at the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Sciences and Technology, where she worked as the Institute’s youngest researcher in nanotechnology. She has studied green energy and alternative energy resources to counter Pakistan’s dire energy crisis. She currently works at ICI Pakistan in their Polyester Business division, as the only female engineer. Her efforts have paved the way for other female engineers to join the field.
Aside from her work, Anam also acts as a passionate social activist for youth rights. She has served as the first chairperson of the Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Youth Committee. She works to engage young people in business opportunities. As the president of the Pak-US Advanced Youth Council she helps the US Consulate create outreach programs for local communities.
Shad Begum is a human rights activist and social entrepreneur from Lower Dir, Pakistan. She is the first woman to establish an organization for human rights promotion and development in the Malakand Division.
Ms. Shad was one of the active women who founded the Association for Behavior and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT), an organization for the development of local communities and especially women in the area in 1994. Shad faced many challenges and difficulties in the male dominated and conservative society of the area. She shifted the organization office to Peshawar at the time of militant’s intermission who threatened her because of her social work. Because of her efforts, ABKT kept contributing the women by education, political awareness, health education, health services, enterprise development, skill development; end honor killing, revolving credit fund, and infrastructure development in the area. Furthermore ABKT has also carried out projects like construction of suspension bridges, installation of hand pumps, drinking wells, paving streets, provision of small loans to local traders and capacity building of women at the grassroots level. ABKT has been timely funded by Pakistani and international organizations.
Shad was awarded the International Women of Courage Award by First Lady Michelle Obama and the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on International Women's Day in 2013 for her fearlessly champing Pakistani women's political and economic rights and empowering the disadvantaged and oppressed. She was the only woman who was nominated for her efforts and hard work from a very conservative society of Dir, lower, Pakistan.
Abdul Muizz is the Founder & Creative Director of 4M Designers, a creative digital agency helping companies re-imagine how they interact with their customers and manage their businesses in the digital economy.
Abdul has over 10 years of experience in digital business and is highly motivated with a passion for web startups, branding, design and digital marketing. Abdul started building websites at the age of 13 and converted his hobby into a business in 2003. He calls the web his first and never ending love.
He has worked with many leading businesses, including Avari Hotels, United Energy Pakistan, Imran Khan Cancer Appeal, SIUT, Karachi Grammar School, Eton Shirts and Burj Bank.
He has generated over $4.5 million for various non-profit organizations through digital marketing solutions.
He recently founded HerCareer.pk, Pakistan's first online community for women dedicated to elevating their careers, giving them the opportunity to work on their own terms, and connecting companies to the women workforce. Abdul has a Master's degree in MIS and a Bachelor's degree in Marketing.
Learn more about HerCareer here: www.hercareer.pk
Fakhara Kulsoom has served as a legal consultant to the Pakistan High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where her major responsibilities included criminal cases under the Penal Code and matters related to welfare of Pakistani community. She is a member of the Malaysian Pakistani Women Association and honorary legal adviser to the group.
Described as a well-spoken, energetic, confident and personable Pakistani woman, Fakhara was involved in welfare work for Pakistani national residing in Malaysia. She now resides in Pakistan where she continues to work for the welfare of Pakistanis in her own country.
Fakhara has been described as a fighter, stating: “I think fight and flight are the two conditions when you are in any problematic situation and what I have learnt in these situations by experiencing them is to fight, because I see an opportunity in every difficulty.”
She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Karachi, and a Master’s of Law from the Islamic International University in Malaysia.
Najam Us Sahar is a lecturer by choice, with diverse experience in academia and the social activism. She has an outstanding academic career including a one gold medal and a nomination for an academic presidential award.
Seven years ago Najam, along with three of her classmates, formed a forum called as “Yes, We Can!” working on social issues in Pakistan. The group completed many projects including a Safe Water Campaign. The organization is now working in collaboration with Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN) and Y-PEER Pakistan.
She is also working with Y-PEER Pakistan coordinating advocacy activities. She is also a lead trainer and mentor of Y-PEER and Active Citizens of the British Council. She is a member of the National Youth Task Force (NYTF) developed by the World Population Foundation (WPF) and is also a member of the task force on translating Youth policy of Pakistan into feasible Plan of Actions. She is member of steering committee to monitor the Adolescence Development program of Rutgers WPF and PLAN Pakistan at Federal level.
Najam Us Sahar is from Southern Punjab is considered to be an inspiration to not only from her family and friends but is also a mentor to her students. She enjoys being a university teacher, researcher, policy advocate, and community activist. Najam believes in her passion to change the mind set of young people of Pakistan and enable them to become leaders. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Finance and researching the human behavior in relation to financial issues.
Gulalai Ismail is the founder and Chairperson of a young women led Organization Aware Girls. She completed her M.Phil in Biotechnology from Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad in June 2012. She laid the foundations of Aware Girls at the age of 16 to provide a leadership platform to young women and girls of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; the north west of Pakistan and to challenge the gender discrimination and human rights violations.
At the young age of 26, she has more than 10 years of experience working on girls and young women's leadership; addressing gender base violence, promoting peace and pluralism; Human Rights Promotion and Protection; Civic Education; peace, democracy; and political mainstreaming of young women. She believes young women and girls have the power to change their communities. She is also working as a member of the Gender Working Group of UNOY (United Network of Young Peacebuilders) and a member of the organizing committee of the Asian Democracy Network. She has worked as a board member of WGNRR (Women’s Global Network on Reproductive Rights) from 2010-2012 and as a member of the Executive Committee of IHEYO (International Humanistic and Ethical Youth Organization) from the period 2009 to 2011.
She has received recognition at both a national and international level for her work. She recently received the 2013 Democracy Award in the US Congress. She has received the Global YouthActionNet Fellowship in 2009, the Paragon Fellowship in 2009, and the Oxfam International Youth Partnership for her efforts on young women’s empowerment.
Momal Mushtaq has been working in the field of "social media for social change" for over two years and her work has been recognized by a number of international organizations, including the World Summit Youth Award; UN-affiliated award, Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Initiative, British Council, Ashoka, The University of Queensland Australia, St. Francis Xavier University Canada and Pakistan Blog Awards. Apart from maintaining The Voice of Youth, an award-winning network spread across 151 countries, she writes for a number of national and international magazines. Her journalistic focus is on media education, youth development and gender equality.
She is currently one of the 16 and the only Pakistani Ambassador of World Summit Youth Award, a unique global contest which brings together young developers and digital entrepreneurs who use internet and mobile technology to put the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) into action. Momal graduated from the National University of Sciences and Technology with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration.
Maria Umar is the Founder and President of The Digital League (formerly Women's Digital League). Women's Digital League remains as a separate project of The Digital League focusing on training rural Pakistani Women in micro online tasks. TDL focuses on all kinds of computer-based services such as affordable content writing, virtual assistance, Facebook/Blackberry/iPhone apps, CRM systems, CMS systems, website development, and videography to clients all over the world.
TDL is running an internship program in partnership with its US-based partner, Think Business Advisors. It's a global program taking interns with various skill-sets ranging from programming to writing to marketing.
Maria is a graduate of Project Artemis and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Program. She was also a finalist at the GIST "I Dare" Business plan Competition.
Before entering the business world, Maria worked for 3 years as an ESL teacher at a private school. She has a Master’s degree in English Literature. She is a wife, a mother, an avid book reader, a Glee-lover, and a mom-preneur.
Dr. Sarwat Malik completed her MD at the age of 21 in Pakistan and came to Rochester in 1967 to begin her pioneering medical career. Dr. Malik was one of the first employees in the Genesee Health Service when it started in 1973. In 1974, Sarwat learned that the Genesee Health Service was discriminating against its two female physicians. She single-handedly challenged the all-male hospital board and reversed its policy. Sarwat was the founding president of Fatima Jinnah Medical College North American Alumni Association and founding President of Medical Women's Association of Rochester. She also served as vice president on the Board of the Islamic Center of Rochester and the Pakistani American Association of Rochester.
Sarwat was a paladin for women's rights. She and her daughter, Nadia Malik, founded the Global Partnership for Women and Girls to invest in the education and economic advancement of Muslim women and girls around the world. GPWG currently invests in projects in Senegal, Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan and continues to grow. Two years ago, Dr. Malik established the Malik Lecture Series at SUNY Brockport in honor of her husband, Salahuddin. The lecture series has an ambitious vision of promoting broader understanding among faith communities.
Dr. Malik was a professional Muslim woman before it was fashionable. She was a lifelong advocate of equality, women's rights, and social justice; not just through her words but through her actions and organizational affiliations. She helped countless patients, mentored students and residents, and was a beloved and respected member of her community. Dr. Malik is survived by her husband of 47 years, Dr. Salahuddin Malik, her two daughters Sumaiya Malik Wood and Nadia Malik and her son-in-law Scott Wood. She lived a full and happy life. She is loved and will be missed by everyone whose life she touched. May God bless her soul.
Seema Aziz is an entrepreneur and social activist who has been working for the cause of education in Pakistan since 1988. She is the Founder and Chairperson of CARE Foundation, the largest non-governmental organization in Pakistan, educating more than 160,000 students through 234 schools. CARE has pioneered a unique public-private partnership model which enables it to reach the maximum number of children and provide them with “quality, marketable education”.
In 1985, she started a business, to prove that Pakistan could produce embroidered fabric equal in quality and design to the best in the world. Today, 28 years on, Bareeze is a symbol of pride for Pakistan and the most recognizable Pakistani brand both within the country and abroad. The Bareeze group, which now has 7 brands, sells through over 460 points of sale worldwide and is Pakistan’s largest fashion retailer.
Seema has studied from University of Punjab and Harvard Business School. Being actively involved in improving the educational opportunities for the children of Pakistan, she is on the board of multiple government and private bodies working in the sector.
Twenty-four year old Khalida Brohi is the founder and Executive Director of Sughar Empowerment Society, a non profit social enterprise in Pakistan dedicated towards providing tribal and rural women opportunities to grow their skills as well as learn leadership skills in an environment of growth and development.
Coming from a small village in Balochistan part of Pakistan, Khalida Brohi often likes to refer to herself as the village girl at Large. Educated in Karachi but taken back to her tribal setups through unfortunate incidents Khalida chose to stand against the custom of Honor Killings at the age of 16 by launching various initiatives and recently establishing Sughar Empowerment Society.
Khalida launched Sughar in 2009 naming it "Sughar" (Meaning Skilled and Confident Woman), declaring the word ought to be used for every single woman around Pakistan as each one of them has skills and confidence, these women only need opportunities to unleash that potential within themselves.
With the successful take off of Sughar, Khalida plans for the next 10 years to change the lives of 1 million women in Pakistan. Khalida has been named among NewsWeeks 25 under 25 Women of Impact as well the 100 Women Who Matter in Pakistan by NewsWeek and Awarded Woman of Impact Award by Women in the World Foundation, Women Excellence Award by National Govt of Pakistan, Young Champion Award by University of Singapore and The Unreasonable Institute Fellowship Award. Along with her roles as Social Entrepreneur and Activist, she is the sister of 8 siblings and a practicing Sufi.
Nilofer Saeed is one of the most prominent female entrepreneurs in Pakistan. In 1993, Mrs. Saeed launched Copper Kettle Cafe, the first restaurant of its kind to offer a wide variety in western, continental and Pakistani cuisine. Desserts at Copper Kettle Cafe in particular, were a raging success and as a natural course of action, Mrs. Saeed launched a series of bakeries by the brand name Hobnob Bakery.
Today thirteen bakeries are operational in Karachi, and plans for further expansion are currently underway. In 2010, having observed a lack in restaurant options for healthy, wholesome food, Mrs. Saaed launched N'eco's Natural Store & Cafe. N'eco's is the first outlet in Pakistan to offer a wide range of organic, natural, herbal and social enterprise goods through a cafe and retail store, all under one roof. Most recently, on the 4th of July 2011, Mrs. Saeed re-invented Copper Kettle Cafe as Hobnob Cafe, with marked improvements in cuisine and ambiance. Her latest ventures in clued two Hobnob Express outlets at the Clifton and Tariq Road Dolmen Malls along with a Hobnob bakery and the first ever branch of N’eco’s natural Store at Dolmen Mall Clifton.
In 2010, Mrs. Saeed was given The Momentum Award on behalf of The LadiesFund in recognition of her seminal contribution to the cafe culture in Pakistan. In 2012, Mrs. Saeed was invited by the Prime Minister of Turkey to attend the Arabia500 Summit in Istanbul, where her company was recognized amongst the 100 Fastest Growing Companies.
Aside from her professional commitments, Mrs. Saeed is also the first female member on the board of directors of The Citizens Foundation (TCF), the leading non-profit organization working in the field of education in Pakistan. She was awarded this position in recognition of her immense fund-raising efforts through Supporters of TCF (STCF) alliance.
Her favourite quote is ‘Hard work never killed anyone’ and her favourite colours are neon green and neon orange.
Despite her very busy work schedule, Mrs. Saeed finds ample time to spend with her family and has been entitled "The Greatest Grandmother in the World" by her grand children, an award that is dearest to her.
Sabeen Mahmud is the Founder and Director of PeaceNiche, a not-for-profit organization based in Karachi, Pakistan that promotes democratic discourse and conflict resolution through intellectual and cultural engagement within and beyond the premises of its multipurpose space, called The Second Floor (T2F).
A social entrepreneur, committed to the intersection between the liberal arts, technology, and activism, Sabeen has created a hub for creative expression in the chaotic, troubled port city of Karachi. A meeting place and playground for poets, writers, artists, thinkers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, students and activists, she has founded, in the words of leading Pakistani peace activist and physics professor Pervez Hoodbhoy, "the only worthwhile arts and culture centre in the city". On the organisation's fifth birthday in 2012, the acclaimed Pakistani author HM Naqvi, tweeted "Sometimes one wishes that there was a T2F when one was growing up". Other PeaceNiche initiatives include Faraar (Visual Arts Outreach), Science Ka Adda (Science and Rationality for Laypersons), Raahnuma (Online Resource for Women Undergoing Abuse), Urdu Preservation Project (Archive of Rare Urdu Prose and Poetry), SparkPlug (Community for Startups and Entrepreneurs), and Jaras (Alternative Learning Space for Low-Income Children).
Sabeen has 20 years of experience in graphic design, new media, and technology and is a co-founder of b.i.t.s., a boutique interactive media and technology consulting firm. She is a blogger, civil liberties activist, a founder member of the All Pakistan Music Conference Karachi and the Citizens' Archive of Pakistan, and is the former President of the Karachi Chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). She is the Secretary of the Pakistan chapter of the South Asia Foundation and a member of Citizens for Democracy, a people’s movement that aims to mobilize public opinion against the dangerously rising tide of religious intolerance in Pakistan. She is a Fellow of the Asia Society’s India-Pakistan Regional Young Leaders Initiative, a forum designed to broaden the dialogue on India-Pakistan relations through a focus on next generation leaders. Sabeen's work has been featured in Wired, NPR, Huffington Post, Seed, Le Monde and a range of local publications.
Roshaneh Zafar is the Founder and Managing Director of the Kashf Foundation, Chair of Kashf Holdings and the Founder of Kashf Microfinance Bank Limited based in Pakistan.
Ms. Zafar founded the Kashf Foundation in 1996, the first specialized microfinance organization in Pakistan. Today, Kashf Foundation is the largest private microfinance institution in Pakistan. The Kashf Foundation has received numerous awards, including the Microfinance Excellence Award by the Grameen Foundation-USA for its groundbreaking innovations in the field of microfinance in Pakistan and the AGFUND International Prize for Microcredit. In 2009 Kashf Foundation, under the leadership of Ms. Zafar, was awarded the OneWoman Initiative Award by the US State Department. She has also been awarded the Vital Voices Economic Empowerment Award 2010.
Prior to starting Kashf, Ms. Zafar worked with the World Bank in Islamabad in the Water and Sanitation department for several years. Ms. Zafar was one of the first Ashoka Fellows in Pakistan and was also selected as a Social Entrepreneur by the Schwab Foundation and the Skoll Foundation. Ms Zafar has also been awarded the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, one of Pakistan’s highest civilian awards 2005, by the President of Pakistan for her work in the field of development and women’s empowerment.
Ms. Zafar is also the founding member of the Pakistan Microfinance Network and is a member on the board of several NGOs and networks, including Women’s World Banking, Pakistan Microfinance Network, Engro Foods and a member of the U.S Department of State’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership’s Subcommittee on Access to Capital.
Ms. Zafar is a graduate of the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania where she studied Finance and Economics. She holds a master's degree in International and Development Economics from Yale University.
As a 25-year-old Pakistani education advocate, Humaira Bachal started the Dream Foundation, a formal school currently enrolling 1200 students where children pay a rupee a day to attend classes. Humaira’s journey began after having fought to continue her education after primary school. Her foundation also offers adult literacy classes for men and women, which are taught at night by Humaira and a team of youth volunteers. Bachal leads talks and workshops on gender equality, domestic violence and creating employment opportunities to bring about holistic change in her community. Learn more about Humaira’s project at: http://