Meet 10 women leaders from Karachi

Welcome to Karachi!

Karachi became the first South Asian city to host a full-scale WOW Festival in 2016. Presented by The British Council in partnership with The WOW Foundation, WOW Karachi is a hugely popular event in the city. This region was curated by Sara Nisar and Amneh Shaikh-Farooqui. 

Conflict: Krishna Kumari Kolhi (2020) by Khaula JamilWOW - Women of the World Foundation

Krishna Kumari Kolhi

Krishna is the first Thari Hindu woman to be elected to the Pakistan senate. Kumari's endeavours to end bonded labour in Pakistan are fuelled by her own childhood experience of being forced to work with her family by a landlord in Umerkot for three years before being rescued in a police raid.

"It was my father’s dream to see me succeed beyond our means as poverty stricken bonded laborers. I turned his wish into my goal and never took my eyes off it till one day I found myself sitting in the Pakistani Parliament."

Cultural Life, Arts and Expression: Lyari Boxing Girls (2020) by Khaula JamilWOW - Women of the World Foundation

Lyari Boxing Girls

In Lyari, an underprivileged neighbourhood known for its gang wars, street crime and male athletes, young girls and women have stepped out of constrictive gender roles, that involve household chores, early marriage and young motherhood, straight into the boxing ring.

"Boxing is in our blood but only the men in the family have been allowed to pursue the sport. We want to train and compete and put in our best efforts – we should not be held back because we are girls!"

Climate Change: Emaan Danish Khan (2020) by Khaula JamilWOW - Women of the World Foundation

Emaan Danish Khan

Emaan has developed a free education portal by the name of Earth Warrior Pakistan. The project is supported by selling eco friendly merchandise and climate story books. Her awareness project, Peekaboo, has a mascot, a rag doll by the name of Fizza (meaning environment). The doll comes with changeable clothes and a storybook, with stories written and illustrated by Pakistani children about various super heroes, who help Fizza protect the environment, fight global warming and the destructive effects of climate change.

"We are in a climate emergency, and we need urgent action. Let's prioritise climate education and make it Level 1. Because there is no Planet B."

Leadership, Power and Politics: Tanzeela Qambrani (2020) by Khaula JamilWOW - Women of the World Foundation

Tanzeela Qambrani

Tanzeela Qambrani is an activist, a computer scientist, and a politician. She belongs to the often overlooked and exploited Sheedi community of Pakistan. The Sheedis trace their lineage to Africa, from where their ancestors were enslaved, shipped to Asia and sold into human bondage. Tanzeela Qimbrani is the first African-Pakistani woman to be elected as Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) in Sindh.

"I have always wanted to shine. I decided at the very beginning of my journey that I would change the perception of my community being regarded as slaves. As I won and moved forward, I could see the disappointment in the eyes of those who wanted to maintain the status quo - but I was unstoppable. "

Education: Sabina Khatri (2020) by Khaula JamilWOW - Women of the World Foundation

Sabina Khatri

Lyari is a community full of talent, devoted youth and a remarkable history, victimised by various afflictions that plague Pakistan today. Deeply divided along ethnic lines, locals were haunted by civil unrest, violence and cyclical poverty.  Not one to shy away from adversity, Sabina Khatri chose to tackle the root of the problem by opening a Pre-School based on a Mother-Child partnership programme in the heart of Lyari. Today, Kiran Foundation serves as an oasis for children and parents; it is a place full of hope

"I think I have a unique and wonderful opportunity to teach children to value their mothers as individuals who also have dreams and aspirations like they do."

Identity: Aradhiya Khan (2020) by Khaula JamilWOW - Women of the World Foundation

Aradhiya Khan

Aradhiya Khan is a young Pakistani trans-activist, social worker and a motivational speaker who has dedicated the past four years of her life towards promoting trans equality, human rights and other causes such as child rights, women empowerment and minority rights.

"Transgender community deserves the dignity and respect that most people take for granted. I own my womanhood. Trans women ARE women and we deserve the same respect and rights."

Health: Dr. Seemin Jamali (2020) by Khaula JamilWOW - Women of the World Foundation

Dr. Seemin Jamali

Dr. Seemin Jamali is the Executive Director and Head of the Emergency department at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), a public hospital in Pakistan. This formidable woman has led from the front for over two decades, in one of the most improbable and difficult places for a woman to be.

"I can’t forget the first time I saw people die in the emergency ward of a hospital. That day I decided I had to turn things around. I formed a solid team of individuals as passionate as myself. Nothing can defeat a person if they make up their mind to get something done."

Peace and Justice: Nighat Dad (2020) by Khaula JamilWOW - Women of the World Foundation

Nighat Dad

Nighat Dad is a Pakistani lawyer and Internet activist, who runs the not-for-profit organisation Digital Rights Foundation. Her work in the field of digital rights and security has earned her many international awards. 

"I have always seen myself as a leader - not a boss or an employer. Our work on digital rights sets an important precedent, not only in Pakistan, but in South Asia. It is also important that we, as DRF, work with others across our region, so that we can all achieve a safer digital realm."

Domestic Life: Parveen Saeed (2020) by Khaula JamilWOW - Women of the World Foundation

Parveen Saeed

Parveen heard news of a woman who had murdered her two children, because she was unable to feed them and could not bear to watch them slowly starve to death. Parveen thought that surely there is enough food in Pakistan that no one remained hungry, so she started Khana Ghar, a small dhaba (roadside restaurant), where she provides a full meal to any one who wants to eat for only PKR 3 (£0.015 / $0.018).

"The world is running today because of the efforts, love and empathy of a few good people. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know where we would be."

Finance and Economy: Maheen Rahman (2020) by Khaula JamilWOW - Women of the World Foundation

Maheen Rahman

Maheen is the youngest and only female CEO in 22 asset management companies in Pakistan. This industry is notorious for considering being grey-haired and male as prerequisites for leadership positions. Maheen made her mark when she turned a loss-making venture into a profitable corporation that returned 443% gains to its clients.

"If there is one thing I strive to do in my line of work, it is to create a kind of culture in the workplace where every single person is proud of their contribution to the growth of the company." 

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