Nighat Dad named only Pakistani in WEF’s young global leaders list


–The digital rights activist features in 2018 list of 100 individuals under the age of 40

LAHORE: Nighat Dad was named the only Pakistani to feature in 2018 list of Young Global Leaders (YGL) issued by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for her services as an advocate of digital rights.

Currently working as the founder of Digital Rights Foundation, Dad has worked as a lawyer and internet activist. She is a campaigner for online freedom and one of the architects behind Pakistan’s legal framework against the acid attacks. Her non-profit organisation is helping women in their fight against online harassment.

Talking to Pakistan Today, Dad expressed her joy over getting the honour to represent Pakistan. “It was a rigorous process with several interviews and harsh selection criteria but I managed to make it,” she said.

Dad named only Pakistani in 100 young global leaders for the year 2018

When asked why there was only one Pakistani in this year’s list, she responded, “Personally, it was a bit disappointing to see only one Pakistani in the list as compared to more people from other parts of South Asia. But I think it is an opportunity for us to use our privilege and resources to empower more people into becoming young leaders.”

Dad further emphasised her “civil liberties agenda” to strengthen online rights in not only Pakistan but also throughout the world. “My objective is to campaign for digital rights beyond borders,” she argued, discussing how the Pakistani cohort of young leaders, including tech moguls like Umar Saif, can press the big corporations and stakeholders in the internet world to focus on online freedom and privacy laws.

She vowed to use her platform and encourage the global leaders to make the internet a safer place.

In the past, the 37-year-old has been named one of Time Magazine’s Next Generation Leaders. During 2017, she was conferred the Atlantic Council Digital Freedom Award and Dutch government’s Human Rights Tulip award. Dad was also among the 20 TedGlobal 2017 fellows.

Other prominent names in the 2018 list of 100 include Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach of Ireland, Kanika Tekriwal, chief executive of JetSetGo, India’s largest private jet company often nicknamed “the Uber of air travel”, Sarah Alshuhaimi, the first woman to chair Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange, Huiyan Yang, China’s richest woman, and actress Priyanka Chopra.

This year’s list has seven Indians as compared to only one selected individual from Pakistan. More than half of the class of 2018 are women, and the majority of the cohort are from emerging economies including Malaysia, Argentina and India.

Renowned alumni members of the YGL include Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Bollywood star Farhan Akhtar, T2F founder Sabeen Mahmud, filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Larry Page and others.

According to the WEF, thousands of candidates from around the world are nominated every year and assessed through a rigorous selection criterion. Only the very best of this group are selected to create a representative body for a term of five years to address global challenges such as the environment, education, and poverty