KARACHI: Join us in celebrating these incredible women and following their journeys on Instagram. This article originally went up on International Women’s Day but we will continue to update this list so keep a look out!
Presenting, in no particular order, our list:
60: Shumaila Shahani: Lawyer
Here’s a phenomenal and passionate woman, Shumaila Shahani, every girl should look up to! Shahani is a lawyer based in Karachi. She is a queer feminist, who has been taking on many battles to disrupt the patriarchy in the system. Be it rattling sexism in the court, or galvanizing action for feminist policies or grassroots support, Shahani is doing it all. It goes without saying that women like her are a need of the hour for the Pakistani society. We’re rooting for you, Shumaila! Keep speaking and fighting the patriarchy as you are!
59. Natasha Japanwala: Writer & Teacher
This week we’re crushing on uber-cool and incredibly smart Karachi-based writer and teacher Natasha Japanwala. She is an Ivy League graduate and is now making an impact in the lives of children in Pakistan. Through her writing classes, she takes children and teenagers on adventures within themselves, exploring their complex emotions and thoughts. An avid book reader, Natasha encourages people to pay attention to words to build a better world. Follow her, if you want reviews of the books she’s been reading. Natasha has written extensively for local and international publications and is also behind ‘Wayfinding‘, which is an online newsletter.
58: Baemisaal: Illustrator
If your art is not political, is it even art? This illustrator and lifestyle blogger based in Lahore who goes by the name Baemisaal is busy disrupting the toxic beauty standards set for women. She runs an Instagram blog called “Baemisaal”, where she describes it as the “Diary Of A Crazy Dysfunctional PlusSized Artist”. She is an inspiration for every girl and every woman that struggles in her body. Her work will not only make you fall in love with her, but it will also empower you to fall in love with yourself. Three cheers for you!!!
57: Yusra Amjad: Poet/Comic
She will make you laugh and she will make you cry, all in one go. Yusra Amjad is a Lahore-based poet, writer and stand-up comedian. She organises and performs with the Auratnaak Lahore troupe — which she co-founded. Amjad’s feminist comedy and poetry is edge and relatable for every desi woman out there. This mighty feminist also teaches at a girls’ college in Lahore. She is empowering Pakistan’s future, and her hard work makes it look very, very bright.
56. Tooba Syed: Political activist/Teacher
Tooba Syed is hope for this country, and hope for the left in this country. She is a member of the Women Democratic Front, and is involved in grassroots activism where she engages with people, organises and mobilises them to take action. She is also visiting faculty at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. Writing frequently and speaking up on different social issue, she is a true catalyst for change.
55. Anita Karim: Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Athlete
Anita Karim is Pakistan’s first MMA athlete. In February 2019, she defeated her Indonesian opponent Gita Suharsono in One Warrior Series held in Singapore. Her south-paw strike against her opponent earned her a winning through a unanimous decision of three judges. Hailing from Hunza, Anita has also previously bagged two gold medals at Pakistan Grappling Challenge (PGC). Still considered a very male-dominated sport, Anita is setting new precedents in martial arts and making Pakistan proud. Go break them, Anita!
54. Aradhiya Khan: Trans Activist
This week we’re rooting for Aradhiya Khan for her relentless struggle for transgender persons’ rights in Pakistan. At the age of 20, she is among the youngest human right activist in Pakistan. At a time when inclusion of trans people in mainstream workforce is still hard to find, she is working as an assistant coordinator at Akhuwat, a non-profit that works to empower economically marginalised families. Aradhiya frequently visits schools and universities and introduces gender-based conversations. She’s breaking many stereotypes for trans people. More power to her!
53. Shahana Khan Khalil: Actor
Artist Shahana Khan Khalil has a theatre and production background. Khalil launched her acting career by debuting in the internationally acclaimed ‘Slackistan’. Staying true to her passion, she co-founded “Kuch Khaas – Centre for Arts, Culture & Dialogue” in her hometown Islamabad, which is a popular go-to spot for expression and art in the capital. Khalil has also worked as the International Production Manager for Pakistan’s biggest television production – Coke Studio in its sixth season with the production running in seven countries. This artist is a powerhouse!
52: Amna Abbas: Artist/ Illustrator
We’re in awe of Amna Abbas’s animations and illustrations on her Instagram account. He illustrations are clever, quirky and carry a strong message. Abbas’ art is a combination of design, skill and observation and she really hits the nail in the coffin by speaking for digital audiences. May your art take you to newer heights, Amna! Keep inspiring us!
51: Samina Baig: Mountaineer, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador
This week, we’re looking up (quite literally) to Samina Baig, who became the first Pakistani woman to climb Mount Everest in July 2013. She is also the first Pakistani woman to have scaled all seven highest peak in the seven continents! Meanwhile, we can barely make it out of our house. Baig was appointed as the national goodwill ambassador by United Nations Development Programme a year ago. She will soon be leading the first ever Pakistani women’s expedition team to scale Mount Everest. May you keep reaching higher and higher grounds, Samina! We’ll be cheering on the whole way.
50. Laaleen Sukhera: Writer, Consultant, Media Professional
This week we are looking up to Laaleen Sukhera for her relentless struggle for herself and her kids. Sukhera has been fighting for her right to divorce for months and we can’t help but be in awe of her struggle to get justice. Laaleen is also editor of Austenistan, a collection of seven short, witty and inspiring stories on contemporary Pakistan set against the backdrop of Jane Austen novels. A truly creative take on Pakistani society, the book is an amazing read. Here’s to Laaleen’s resilience, talents and her amazing energy. You go get them, girl!
49. Imaan Sheikh: Writer
Fierce, unapologetic and rib-ticklingly funny, Imaan has struck a chord with many young desis with her relateable stories and viral memes. She started her career in Pakistan and moved on to BuzzfeedIndia, reaching a global audience, all in a short span of time. Courtesy: her hard work and sharp wit. She’ll praise you when you deserve it but shut you up if you are a complete moron. If you want a real review of the latest Bollywood flick or to know how complicated brown families are, Imaan is your go-to person. Heck she’ll even decode all the 90s movies for you and prove how problematic some of they are in this day and age. Plus point: She’s a feminist. We’ve been crushing for a long time and won’t stop any time soon.
48. Amna Raheel: Motivational speaker
This young achiever knows no bounds. Amna Raheel was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when she was two years old. But with the support of her family and her own resilience, she is now a gold medalist from IoBM and is pursuing an MBA from the same university. Raheel lives her life to the fullest. She has swum with dolphins, ridden an elephant in Thailand and bicycled on the roads. There’s no stopping her!
47. Hajra Khan: Football player
Captain of Pakistan’s women’s football team Hajra Khan is the first football player from the country to have been signed by an international football club. She has also been named in Forbes list of Women in Sport to Watch 2019. The star footballer recently garnered attention when she courageously spoke about her struggle with depression. We want to be her! #Goals
46. Fareshteh Aslam: CEO
Journalist-turned-PR guru Fareshteh Aslam is a powerhouse in herself and a force to reckoned with. She is currently leading Talking Point, a PR and Communications company, as the CEO. She has also been working as an award manager for Lux Style Awards. In short: she keeps numerous feathers in her cap. We couldn’t be more in awe of her! Follow her on Instagram here:
45. Shireen Zafar: Teacher
This week we are rooting for Shireen Zafar, co-founder Hasan Shireen Foundation. Fifteen-year-old Shireen together with her brother Hasan, started teaching kids outside Cafe Clifton two years ago. They then expanded to Qayyumabad and Zamzama and were joined by two more teachers. Students themselves, the duo offer Rs.50, biscuits and juices to every kid who comes to them to study. We couldn’t be more proud of her!
44. Wasma Imran: Founder
Wasma Imran, co-founder of Recircle Cup, is a trailblazer, pioneering Pakistan’s first menstrual cup company. Wasma, with her partner Mahin Khan, is breaking barriers and normalising conversations around menstruation. The duo is doing so by reducing waste and improving menstrual hygiene via the menstrual cup, a healthy, pocket-friendly and eco-friendly alternative to pads, tampons and cloth etc. Now, who doesn’t love an eco-friendly, millennial, feminist, woman entrepreneur? Get it, girl!
43. Saba Khalid: Founder/writer
This week, our #WomanCrush is Saba Khalid, a journalist, blogger and founder of Aurat Raaj, which is a digital content platform for Pakistani women. Khalid has initiated a campaign called #RAAJIBAAJI, where an AI-infused bot will be addressing myths, confusion and questions on women reproductive health and hygiene in developing countries. We’re blown away by her social innovation! More power to you, Saba. Make us proud!
42. Dr Alina Nasir: Dentist
Cosmetic and Restorative Dentist Dr Alina Nasir. We love a woman who’s incredibly passionate about what they do and given her presence on social media as a #dentfluencer, you can tell dentistry isn’t just a job for Dr Alina! She’s made it her life’s mission to make everyone smile (literally) and we can’t help doing so ourselves!
41. Sana Mir: Cricketer
The world is finally catching up! Our favourite cricketer and the former captain of Pakistan women’s cricket team just became the top-ranked ODI bowler. Mir serves as inspiration for women and girls all over the country not just on the field but off it as well. She often speaks about gender disparity and double standards, and we are here for it! Lead the way, cap.
40. Nida Kirmani: Professor/Sociologist
A feminist sociologist, Nida Kirmani teaches sociology at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and is a badass political analyst on social media. Kirmani has also authored a number of books on gender and other subjects.
39. Alizeh Valjee
We can’t even begin to list down everything Alizeh Valjee manages to do in a week. She is the co-founder of Care For Health and Taskeen, two organizations working on creating a dialogue around the importance of mental health in Pakistan, runs her private practice as a therapist, teaches yoga and offers dance mandala workshops regularly!
38. Hiba Thobani: Lawyer
A lawyer by profession, Thobani is co-founder of Qaaf Se Qanoon, a not for profit legal aid initiative by lawyers and law students of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, and provides pro bono legal assistance to victims of sexual harassment. Way to go!
37. Sara Malkani: Lawyer
Sara Malkani is a Sindh High Court advocate, the advocacy advisor for Center for Reproductive Rights in New York and a writer. She has written on topics such as child marriages, honour killings as well as the Meesha Shafi-Ali Zafar sexual harassment case. She’s fighting the good fight on behalf of all women and we salute her for it.
36. Aneela Darbar: Neurosurgeon
She is Pakistan’s first US-trained female neurosurgeon who currently works as an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Agha Khan University. She specialises in minimally invasive endoscopic surgery, and what can we say? She’s totally taken over our hearts and minds (read:brains)!
35. Naween Mangi: Journalist
Naween Mangi is a journalism guru in Pakistan. She has served as Pakistan bureau chief of Bloomberg News and spent a decade covering companies, markets and the economy; reporting on issues, conducting interviews with top officials and writing profiles and features.
Naween also founded Ali Hasan Mangi Memorial Trust to provide deserving families with health, education and basic necessities in Sindh. More power to you, Naween!
34. Syeda Anfas Ali Shah: Activist
Syeda Anfas Ali Shah is a social activist who runs the Ocean Welfare Organization that aims to provide free of cost education to underprivileged children. She’s responsible for the famous Footpath School that has so far taught hundreds of street children.
33. Aisha Gazdar: Filmmaker
Aisha Gazdar is an award-winning filmmaker who has produced documentaries on women and gender in Pakistan. She is a researcher and a journalist whose work revolves around women development. She is currently associated with the Films d’Art production house. Her documentary on ‘honour killings’ titled The Honour Deception has received international recognition. She is our latest crush for obvious reasons. Here’s to women who empower other women.
32. Mahwash Ajaz: Writer
She’s one of the most badass writers of our time. She describes herself on Twitter as “Purani Pakistani. Feminist liberal fascist writer, YouTuber, Supermom & biryani connoisseur.” Her political commentary is so apt it puts all else to shame. The truth is she’s crushing it in real life and we’re crushing on her.
31. Zehra Khan
Well for starters, she leads the Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) that makes thousands of women in Sindh aware of their due rights. Moreover, Zehra is said to have engaged a number working class women who passionately participated in a massive Aurat March rally held in Karachi this year. Her work also led the Sindh government to pass the Sindh Home Based Workers Bill (2018) in May. The bill not only protects female workers and their rights but also extends to home-based workers, ensuring they are considered equal employees with all rights, maternity leaves and other basic facilities. Kudos to Zehra and her organisation. Seriously, what’s not to crush over?
30. Mandana Noor: Director/Designer/Actor
She’s a director, photographer, graphic designer and actor. Although Ali Noor is the one who steals the limelight most of the time, we can’t help but crush over his better half.
29. Amna Mawaz Khan: Dancer
She is a classical dancer who specialises in Bharatanatyam and a really good one. Did you know that Khan began training at the age of 11? Yep, that’s right. That’s some dedication. She now performs and teaches dance and is also a left-wing political worker and activist. What’s not to crush over?
28. Amtul Baweja: Comedian/Blogger
She’s a theater artist, social activist, comedian but mostly importantly a terrific travel blogger. She and her better half run a blog called ‘Patangeer’ and call themselves the travel couple. And we can’t stop staring at her breathtaking photos.
27. Fauzia Zafar: Blogger
A blogger by profession, Fauzia Zafar has taken over Instagram with her very relatable blog, called Rants of a Desi Bride. It started in 2016, when she was about to get married and her followers now read about her very relatable posts that shed light on what married life is all about. Through her Insta account, she documents her travels, gives advice to her followers and shares snippets of her adorable relationship with her husband.
26. Mehreen Jabbar: Filmmaker
She’s one of the most successful filmmakers in the country, known best for her 2008 film Ramchand Pakistani. Among her other award-winning short films and TV dramas are Daughters of the Late Colonel, Beauty Parlor, Laal Baig (Cockroach), Harjai (Betrayal) and ‘Doraha‘ (Crossroads). She is also part of the advisory board of The South Asian Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Television. We are in awe and couldn’t be more proud!
25. Anam Abbas: Filmmaker
She’s an independent filmmaker, best known for a Pakistani webseries Ladies Only, which she directs and produces. Not only that, she’s also founding member of Documentary Association of Pakistan (DAP). And in the midst of it all, she finds the time to maintain a very hip Instagram presence. We’re loving her feed, what about you?
24. Natalia Gul Jilani Baghdadi: Dentist/Actor
She’s a dentist and a theatre actor. Wow, talk about diversity. She’s fabulous at stand up comedy and performs with the popular Khawatoons. Her Instagram bio also tells us that she’s a writer, voice over artist and a rotarian. Is there anything she can’t do?
23. Ayesha Tariq: Comedian/Author/Illustrator
She’s a comedian, an illustrator and the author of Sarah: The Suppressed Anger of the Obedient Pakistani Daughter. We’ve seen her perform with the Khawatoons and we’ve seen her artwork as well. She’s brilliant!
22. Quratulain Binte Khalid: Photographer
Reason: She’s a commercial and lifestyle photographer. Also, a lover of books, dogs, food and all things amazing. We love how she does portraits and self-portraits. Recently, the travel bug in her took her to Baku and we were wowed.
21. Rehmat Ajmal: Model/designer
She’s a textile designer, model and theatre performer who has studied from the National College of Arts. Also, her Instagram bio says she’s a ‘smasher of patriarchy’. So basically everything about her is making us go like: “Preach sista!”
20. Amafah Mubashir: Yogi
Reason: It would be an understatement to say that her Instagram is breathtaking. Need any guidelines on yoga? Mubashir should be your go-to person. She’s just so good at what she does. Seriously, it makes us want to enroll in her yoga classes.
19. Mariam Saleem Khan: Actor
She’s an actor and writer, which is a terrific combination. Also, if you haven’t had a chance to scroll through her Instagram, just do it now. Her videos are hilarious.
18. Madeeha Syed: Journalist
Reason: She’s not only a journalist and an award-winning documentary filmmaker but possesses many other talents as well and her Instagram account proves it. Don’t believe us? Go check out for yourselves. You’ll be in awe.
17. Natasha Zubair: Photographer
Reason: Her Instagram bio states that she’s a lover of 35mm film, and tbh we are lovers of her photos. Zubair is a photographer and entrepreneur who also makes the coolest stationary with recycled paper. What’s not to love about her?
16. Alycia Dias: Singer
She’s the girl with the golden voice. Remember the official soundtrack (OST) from the Sanam Jung and Sarwat Gilani starrer drama Dil-e-Muztar? Yup, Dias sang that and a bunch of other melodious OSTs for various Pakistani television dramas. At the age of 17, she participated in a local reality show and became a semi-finalist. Pretty cool, isn’t she?
15. Nausheen Dadabhoy: Cinamatographer
How many cinematographers in Pakistan are women? Nausheen is one of a kind. We’ve all seen her work in Mehreen Jabbar’s Jackson Heights, Iram Bilal Perveen’s Josh and Oscar-nominated short film La Femme et le TGV [Railroad Lady]. More power to you, Nausheen.
14. Huma Mobin
Remember the real life ‘Queen,’ whose solo honeymoon took the internet by storm? Not only that, she also modeled for a local clothing brand while she was pregnant. You go girl!
13. Eman Suleman: Model
Reason: The model is part of Auratnaak troupe and was involved in the bloodied pads project in BNU Lahore to raise a discussion on periods. Brains, beauty and a sense of humour, what’s not to like?
12. Natasha Baig: Singer
Reason: Natasha’s strong voice sets her apart from all the new and upcoming singers in our industry. Plus, she sang for the #MeinBhi campaign which makes her pretty damn awesome.
11. Faiza Saleem: Comedian /Actor
Reason: Faiza is Pakistan’s first social media entertainer. We love how much she stresses on the fact that she was her own inspiration and how essential it is to be original. Also, she makes us laugh till it hurts.
10. Zenith Irfan: Traveler
Reason: Well, because she’s a total badass. Who else aspires to travel the world on a bike? We have trouble aspiring to get out of bed the next day, tbh.
9. Sanam Maher: Journalist
Reason: Because she’s hilarious and smart. She’s a journalist and a soon to be published author. Sanam is currently working on a book on the late Qandeel Baloch and we can’t wait to get our hands on it.
8. Ayesha Chundrigarh: Founder, ACF
Reason: Ayesha is a champion of animal rights in Pakistan – a job not many would be willing to take up. She is successfully running the most well-known animal shelter in Karachi. Follow them here: @acfanimalrescueofficial
7. Sadia Khatri: Activist
Reason: Part of Girls at Dhabas, Sadia is partly responsible for the recently revived movement of reclaiming public spaces for women, and continues to be a strong and loud voice in the movement for gender equality; a force to be reckoned with.
6. Saheefa Jabbar: Model
Reason: Model of the moment, Saheefa has a girl-next-door look but she’s not your conventional “Pakistani model”. She is confident, edgy and effortlessly pulls off a haircut not many would dare to get.
5. Noorulain Ali: Photographer
Reason: Hands-down one of the coolest wedding photographer in Pakistan. Would get married just to have her take photos. Just kidding, don’t have the budget. Follow her @noorulainali and prepare to be wowed.
4. Shehzil Malik: Illustrator/Designer
Reason: Just check out her Instagram to see what we’re talking about. *Drooling while browsing*
3. Samya Arif: Illustrator/Designer
Reason: Even Coldplay, yes as in Yellow, as in Chris Martin, is a fan. Samya has swiftly risen as one of the country’s best graphic designers. Follow her now.
2. Haya Fatima Iqbal: Documentary film-maker
Reason: Haya has worked as a producer of Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar and emmy winning documentaries and has quickly become a role model for aspiring film-makers. We couldn’t be more proud.
1. Zainab Abbas: Sports journalist
Reason: Definitely the most popular sports journalists these days, Zainab’s performance never disappoints. She makes us interested in matches we weren’t even planning on watching.