By Maha Asif Rizwan
The world scrolls through their social media newsfeed to catch a glimpse of a hilarious video, share a viral post on their timeline, or tag a friend on a meme. But these six Pakistani women have created and nurture communities that are forming bonds stronger than the one you share with your sister. Admit it, there are a certain things you can’t imagine sharing with your siblings but you feel completely at ease sharing it with your soul sisters or ‘bitches’.
Women’s Own reached out to the most influential Pakistani women on Facebook, who are a brand of inspiration, and they changed our view of social media forever.
Kanwal Ahmed – Soul Sisters Pakistan
The owner and Editor-in-Chief of Soul sisters Pakistan runs a community of women, run by women, for women. Kanwal started Soul Sisters Pakistan in August 2013 with a mission to establish the bond of sisterhood.
“Women can play a large role in being each other’s strength and I wanted to provide a platform where they could reach out to one another and bond. Social Media is the easiest medium for someone like me. By that I mean, when I started off I had absolutely no resources. And with social media, you don’t need anything – not money or contacts. Just good intentions and a great idea. Fortunately, I had both.”
The immense success of Soul Sisters Pakistan has diversified into multiple projects over the years, like song parodies that highlight our obsession with the gora rung.
What does the future hold? Kanwal wants to host focused panel sessions on women’s issues and motivational talks by women.
Ayesha Chundrigar – Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation
Ayesha is the Founder of Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation (ACF) – a shelter which rescues animals and educates people about why this is necessary for the betterment of the society.
“Street animals like dogs and cats and labour animals such as donkeys are at the lowest rung of the ladder of hopelessness as nothing was ever done for them. ACF wanted to give them their basic rights, hence, I took on that task head on first.”
Being a private person herself, Ayesha is not an avid social media user, but she believes in using social media to further her cause.
“I believe it is essential that people know where their money is being used and Facebook has provided that platform for us and an even bigger, more effective platform for creating awareness and a movement for change in animal welfare that did not exist before.”
The foundation also helps those human communities that don’t have well-paid jobs and daily-wagers, such as donkey owners. They help them by taking care of their donkeys which are the only source of their livelihood.
What does the future hold? Humane donkey harnesses that can greatly reduce donkey injuries are in the works alongside a few other big projects that will be revealed soon.
Nusrat Hidayatullah – the 42 Day Challenge
Co-founder of The Forty Two Day Challenge, Nusrat Hidayatullah is possibly the fittest female in town, running a successful fitness challenge that propagates a healthy lifestyle. Their social media community is meant to serve as a motivation movement, giving its followers that extra nudge that we all need.
“On the platform, we push each other, suggest ways to eat clean, discuss the benefits of certain workouts, and even discover new recipes together; all in the presence of fitness trainers,” shares Nusrat. “We realize that while not everyone is able to come workout with us, though we’d love that, they’d still be interested in accurate and consolidated information about nutrition and fitness.”
“Social media allows us to target particular demographics and it’s the best medium to get on the information highway,” she adds. “On some level, we’re like an enormous family!”
What does the future hold? A fitness revolution!
Sabeen Rabbani – Deen Sisters Pakistan
Sabeen Rabbani, the founder of Deen Sisters, has created a social media community to make Muslims more spiritually and religiously productive. The community has come a long way from its 40 members and just sharing religious verses and quotes. It offers an insight into Islamic values through discussions.
“The community aims to spread awareness about the basics of Islam and help people become kind, tolerant, and good reasonable human beings. We want for the prayers to come as a routine and the gossiping and intolerance to exit.”
With over 55000 handpicked members, Deen Sisters offers religious and spiritual support to women from different walks of life.
Having single handedly managed the community for three years now, Sabeen Rabbani says that the one thing she has learned about women is, that when they come together, they can conquer anything with their combined intelligence and support.
What does the future hold? Continue to use Deen Sisters to give religious guidance to those who are in search of it.
Mishayl Naek – The Yummy Mummy Network
The super mom behind the Yummy Mummy Network, Mishayl Naek, started the Facebook group for friends and family to connect over issues that come with motherhood. With its aim to provide a safe space for mothers to discuss child care questions, it organically evolved into a larger community comprising of urban Pakistani mothers.
“The Yummy Mummy Network really developed naturally. As a mother, it’s difficult to go out and about freely. The early years can also be lonely and there’s nothing like scrolling through social media at three am to make you feel a little connected,” says Mishayl Naek. “Women today lack the easy community access we used to have back in the day, but now we have social media!”
Mishayl has utilized the Yummy Mummy Network to introduce pre-natal workshops with trainers like Dosti Zahra Jafri, along with Doula’s such as Neha Mankani and Zohreen Murad. There are also Lactation Consultants available through the network.
What does the future hold? Use the community to make mothers feel informed, supported and welcomed.
Rabeeya Seemul Latif – Soul Bitches
Soul Bitches was formed to protect the opinions and practices of women who don’t conform to the status quo.
Rabeeya Seemul Latif, the founder of Soul Bitches, says, “Soul Bitches is a safe platform where I wanted women from all over, regardless of religion, race, etc. to be able to discuss personal issues that they aren’t comfortable sharing openly. Uniting women so they could empower one another was my biggest goal.”
While the society often scares women to be their strong, independent self, Soul Bitches welcomes those who are shunned from the society.
“It’s okay to be 30 and single. It’s okay if you don’t want kids. It’s okay to be your own person. The group shows you so many different perspectives and opinions,” Rabeeya explains. “I wanted it to be a place which is positive and uplifting, a place where people can be happy within themselves.”
This social media influencer believes that soul media is the tool to connect different voices and get people’s attention to start a chain of change, especially for women who have no one to turn to.
What does the future hold? According to Rabeeya, “While soul media helps, it’s not the only tool for change.” Do we smell something big coming up?