Seven Pakistani women who couldn’t make it to Forbes’ 30 under 30


In March 2018, Forbes released its yearly list of 30 under 30. The list which was launched back in 2011 has registered a few Pakistanis, all of whom we are proud of. However, there was a time when making it to one of the world’s most popular list, receiving an achievement award or recognition was an actual achievement thanks to a criterion.

While the demographics of Forbes’ selections continues to garner criticism; many magazines and publications have pointed out a severe gender imbalance and non-representation of minorities, and we would also like to comment on how their criteria for selection is questionable and adds names for the sake of ‘variety’.

It seems now that accolades are being thrown around and that too for those whose struggles are relatively easy. Why is it ignored that CEO’s under 30 are mostly children who have been handed a family legacy? That they are presented with opportunities because of friends in the right place? Where is the value for perseverance?

For example, if John Doe is heading an NGO while residing in America or, if all Jane Doe has done is sing a cover of a popular song for a pop culture show then it simply isn’t equal to the effort and accomplishments of those who struggle against pre-set social and cultural formats to achieve their goals.

This is not to take away praise from anybody. This is a matter of quality, besides being particularly unfair to hardworking people who struggle to defy the odds only to be upstaged by those who thrive on nepotism.

The women who Forbes missed out on are the ones whose persistent hard work and bravado are forcing an inexorable and gradual change in society. These are the women who are the real and rightful owners of that slot on an honorary list. A few of who should’ve been considered are below.


Rafia Qaseem Baig

Pakistan’s and Asia’s first female member of a bomb disposal squad has worked at International Rescue Committee (IRC) and has been working with the police for eight years.



Naseem Hameed

Known as the ‘Queen of Tracks’, Naseem is a track and field athlete, who started practising at the age of 14 and went on to become the fastest woman in South Asia after winning a gold medal in the 100 metres at the 2010 South Asian Games in Dhaka. After receiving zero awards or opportunities promised by the government, she launched and runs the Naseem Hameed Sports Academy.




Samya Arif

Samya is an illustrator whose works include designing a vinyl sleeve for Australian band Tame Impala, posters for Pakistani film Cake, a taxi that appeared in a Coldplay music video, a mobile library called the ‘Book Bus’ for the American Embassy in Nepal and much, much more.




Sana Mir

Now 32, Sana is a cricketer and was the former captain of Pakistan women’s cricket team. She led Pakistan to win two Gold medals in the Asian Games of 2010 and 2014. Eight Pakistani players got a spot in the top 20 ICC rankings under her captaincy. Besides being resilient, hardworking and successful, Sana is persistently vocal on issues close to her heart.



Samina Khayal Baig 

Samina is a high-altitude mountaineer who began climbing at the age of four and training at the age of 15. After years of gruelling practice, she became the first Pakistani woman to scale the Mount Everest in addition to all of the seven summits.




Shazia Parveen

Shazia is Pakistan’s first female firefighter who went through strenuous training sessions from which a bunch of her male counterparts dropped out of. She has been saving lives since 2010, alongside men who are twice her age and has braved many who make fun of her for taking on an unconventional role.



Mona Prakash

Mona Prakash, a resident of Hyderabad and the recipient of the Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence, is the founder of the Dewan Farm School. Her school began with an annual attendance of three students. She introduces modern teaching methods to poor and minority families who don’t have access to education.


For most women in Pakistan, life is predetermined from the moment they are born. This is why it is a greater achievement to do what these women are doing. These are the women who come from nothing, ask for nothing and are given nothing. And yet, they rise.