Hello friends! Happy Women’s Day to you all!
I know. We should celebrate women every day, not just on International Women’s Day. And while that is certainly the case, it is still significant to have a day that commemorates the movement for women’s rights and the achievements of women everywhere.
I come from a long line of warrior women – my maternal grandmother, my nani, was a Maoist, revolutionary, and one of the first commanders of Pakistan’s Women’s National Guard (she was actually the inspiration behind the TEDx talk I did back in 2014, which you can see here if you’re so inclined). Women dominate my mother’s side of the family, and I was raised on stories of every day bravery & courage, of strength & determination – from my aunt who helped launch the first Standard Chartered Bank in Kabul, Afghanistan in the midst of bombings and attacks, to my sister who, as a journalist, has covered stories ranging from the revolution in Egypt to Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. I credit this legacy with why I live my life as wholeheartedly as I can – and if I’m able to live it with one ounce of their fierceness and grit, then I know I’m doing something right.
I founded i2i six and a half years ago with a deep seeded belief in the power of young entrepreneurs to affect change in our country and in the world. We bet on female founders from the very start of our company, not because it was “cool” to do so, but because it just made sense. Today, 60% of the startups i2i has graduated from our annual accelerator program have been founded or co-founded by women, and, of the over $4M our companies have raised since 2012, 86% of that has been by our female-led companies. Our female founders work harder, they generate more revenue and create more jobs, and they support one another in the crazy journey of building a business.
None of this should surprise anyone. Betting on women, as all the studies show, makes economic & financial sense, not just for the sake of women, but for the sake of society. And yet, access continues to remain a massive issue for women everywhere, in business or otherwise. Women are raised and socialized within an environment of scarcity instead of abundance. We are taught to be sweet and pretty rule-followers, instead of loud and determined rule-breakers.
So, today, I honor the women in our i2i community who aren’t afraid to break the rules – from Suniya Sadullah Khan, the co-founder of Mauqa.Online, who is also a rocket scientist and Pakistan’s first and only Formula One engineer, to Farida Kanwal Mughal, the co-founder of Queno who hails from Hunza and embodies what Shakespeare meant when he said, “though she be but little, she is fierce.” All of the women in our community have a story, and every single one of them are a testament to what it means to live out loud. (You can see more about them in our special IWD video below.)
I also want to honor you, as our partner, friend, and member of this community. I salute our male allies as much as I do our women heroes, and know that this day is all about us who are working towards a more equitable and just future.
On behalf of our entire team here at i2i, Happy International Women’s Day.