By Sara Danial
Tue, 03, 23

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, You! talks to three amazing women who are doing remarkable work in the field of STEM…

March 8 celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD). The day belongs to every woman, everywhere around the globe. The theme for this year’s IWD is ‘Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality’. It’s time to celebrate women’s achievements in the field of innovation and technology, and raise awareness about gender parity. This week, You! talks to three amazing women who are doing remarkable work in the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). These women are an inspiration to millions of young girls and women out there. Read on…

“A big chunk of our populace is not tech-savvy. There is a dire need to regularise STEM education from primary standards on a national level”

Zeenat Anjum

Zeenat Anjum is a self-made engineer and founder of a digital agency. She has represented Pakistan on multiple forums as a woman who dared to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Her classmates nicknamed her ‘Einstein’ because of her love for science and math, subjects many students steer away from. Speaking about her old days of studying, she reminisces, “Till today, when I think back on various elements that science has proven, they have long been mentioned in our religion. So, one way or the other, this correlation attracted me.” As a passionate writer, she was compelled to spearhead a digital agency, which acts as a close-knit community for freelancers namely, ‘Digiwrite’. Her first assignment is known to be a speech she wrote for one of the seniors, who was competing in the national bilingual competition.


Her current areas of focus include freelancing, a circuit that has taken immense stride in Pakistan, economic empowerment and financial independence, encouraging women’s education in STEM, sustainable technologies, climate change and action, entrepreneurship, and digital literacy with a need to focus on the capacity building of youth. Talking about the love for her work and what drives her, Anjum says excitedly, “The most fascinating part of being in this domain comes down to being purpose-driven and contributing my bit to help the society. Although there have been numerous moments, I believe in building them further and climbing my way up the professional ladder, all while prioritising my family.”

Of course, glory comes with its fair share of challenges. Anjum, has had to struggle, especially after she was responsible for raising kids. Breaking stereotypes in a society riddled with social disorders is not easy. Emerging as a leader in STEM was no mean feat. But then, that’s the best part of celebrating this day with more fervour and gusto - it makes you more resilient, robust, and steadfast. “And this is what I have learned over the years,” she states.

“It should be mandatory for women to learn different fields of STEM, especially nowadays when the country is facing economic downturn and it is all the more important for women to become productive members of economy. A big chunk of our populace is not tech-savvy. This will not change until we regularise STEM education from primary standards on a national level. My one and only advice to everyone is to believe in yourself and be consistent as every action, however minute it may be, counts,” emphasises Anjum.

“With technical education, women are equally capable of shaping the world”

Roshaan Sheikh

Roshaan Sheikh belongs to a humble background where education was a top priority. Despite financial constraints, her parents ensured that she, along with her sibling, received the best possible education. “I lost my father when I was in high school. It was a profound moment in my life, but I refused to let it become a barrier to what I aimed for. After completing my education, I pursued my passion for design and technology through various odd jobs, before landing my first job in software engineering.”


Today, Roshaan stands tall as a highly experienced product designer with over 12 years of corporate experience. Roshaan is a UX consultant and product designer focused on creating user-centred products that have a positive impact on people’s lives. Her innovative approach to visual design systems to complex software development projects brought her to opportunities to work for giant industry leaders, including Aljazeera, Gulf Group, AT&T, T-Mobile, UN, and Avaya. Creating cloud-based products, Roshaan has managed to not only break stereotypes but has played a significant role as a game-changer in the product design industry, proving that nothing can hold back women from achieving if they dare to dream.

In addition to her professional work, she also leads ‘Stippple’, her brainchild that was incubated at the National Incubation Center (NIC). Stippple aims to provide a platform for local digital artists and tech enthusiasts to showcase their work and connect with others. It empowers businesses through design, development and community building. She is also involved in managing various designer communities in Pakistan, including Fiverr, Glug, Sketch, and Dribbble. Hosting events and workshops to promote collaboration and learning among designers in the community, is what Roshaan loves the most.

“As a child, I was fascinated by technology and its potential to positively impact the world. Pursuing a career in software engineering and product design allowed me to combine my creative abilities with my love for technology, and bring forth innovative ideas to life. I started as a school teacher, but was looking for a flexible job to continue my higher education in the evenings. I joined PTCL call centre for flexibility and work/study balance. Freelancing was the answer for me, which translated into passion for design, and later, took the form of a career,” shares Roshaan.

She finds it rewarding to enhance the customer experience through functional and visually appealing solutions. “As a Senior Product Architect, I strive to stay up-to-date with industry trends and provide clients with actionable insights to help them achieve their business objectives.” Talking about the career-defining moment she is proud of, Roshaan says that she was nominated as an ‘Emerging Leader’ by the US State Department for the Techwomen Fellowship Program in 2022, recognised as a ‘Wonder Woman’ at Afiniti in 2020, and nominated as a ‘Tech Star’ by the Globant Women Awards in 2021. “I also won the first prize at the World Bank Hackathon in Pakistan and contributed to the Digital Pakistan campaign. These experiences have solidified my commitment to my profession and my role as a leader in the industry, and I'm determined to continue striving for excellence,” adds Roshaan.

While the destination was sweet, the journey wasn’t. As a woman in STEM, Roshaan struggled doubly as she braved through gender bias, discrimination, and workplace harassment. It is tragic to note that these issues are still prevalent in our workplaces and it’s important to raise awareness and work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable environment. When asked about technical education being mandatory at the primary levels, she opines that with technical education, women are equally capable of shaping the world. “It’s crucial for women to have a solid understanding to succeed in the modern economy. Despite cultural and societal barriers, I strongly believe women are just as capable as men in this field. It can provide opportunities to higher-paying jobs, entrepreneurial ventures, and greater gender equity. We should encourage and support more women in pursuing STEM careers to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce,” stresses Roshaan.

Life is full of personal and professional challenges, and it is important to overcome them in an emotionally and mentally stable way. “These hurdles have made me a stronger version of myself,” said Roshaan. She believes in having confidence if girls want to continue pursuing a career in STEM steadfastly. She has emphasised the need to focus on surrounding yourself with supportive people, and positive energy, and receptive to learning and growing at all times.

‘Sehat Kahani’, a success story of

Dr Sara S Khurram

Dr Sara Saeed Khurram is the co-founder and CEO of ‘Sehat Kahani’, a widely used digital healthcare platform in Pakistan, with the vision to democratise healthcare access for all using technology. With a committed network of doctors, the platform enables flexible work opportunities for female doctors, who otherwise face socio-cultural barriers to practice medicine. The platform is available as a mobile application for the mass consumers and corporations as e-clinics in low income communities. It is used by nearly 1.1 million consumers and 650+ corporations today. With one of the largest networks of 49 e-clinics nationwide, ‘Sehat Kahani’ has managed over 1.9 million consultations, counselling and healthcare education. With an MBBS from DOW University of Health Sciences in 2010, Masters in Health Policy and Management from Aga Khan University of Health Sciences in 2018, and an ISEP Alumni from INSEAD Singapore 2019, she was gradually gaining expertise in her field.


Sara had to quit when she was expecting a baby. She landed a job to run a community clinic in a local slum in Karachi. After her baby’s birth, she moved to a new city, and began tele-health consultations in the slum that she worked in during her pregnancy, assisted by a nurse. This led to the concept of connecting female doctors to patients using the power of technology.

“Life took its course when I got married, and had kids. The society gradually expected me to transform into an ideal housewife, which clearly meant giving up on professional career altogether. This felt like a discrimination against my professional commitment and gender, and detrimental to the people of Pakistan, where access to quality health service is still a dream. I had witnessed the disabled and deteriorating healthcare system in my early medical career and realised the dire need for a quality digital healthcare platform in Pakistan for the underserved communities. My idea was to use an inclusive and integrated approach to promote employment opportunities for other female doctors as well as advancing services for quality healthcare in Pakistan. Connecting these two dots was the answer in the form of ‘Sehat Kahani’, that created a sustainable bridge between doctors and those patients with digitisation at the core,” explains Dr Sara.

Today, as the CEO of ‘Sehat Kahani’, her focus is on scaling up the company nationally and regionally. It is one of the few female-led companies in Pakistan which has successfully raised two rounds of funding and is on its way to raise its third for expansion of operations. Sara is also responsible for strategy, fund raising, and human capital development. Every day, thousands of patients use ‘Sehat Kahani’ services to ensure quality healthcare for themselves and their families. The company has diagnosed patients with cancer, long term infertility, autoimmune disorders and complicated dermatological issues. It has taken care of long term mental health issues of patients and treated many in underserved, low income areas where patients had never seen a doctor. Having treated 75,000 patients in times of peak COVID and 30,000+ patients in recent devastating floods, changed patients’ life for the better.

Talking about the challenges of building this community of doctors and patients, Dr Sara says, “In the early days of building ‘Sehat Kahani’, I visited a mental hospital in KPK where the patients did not have access to a mental health expert for 7 years. Patients with mental and physical health issues were abandoned with no qualified help. ‘Sehat Kahani’ began telemedicine services for those patients. And they run till today. More than 10,000 patients have been treated through our clinics by qualified mental health experts. For me, it cemented my resolve that if I can help these patients via technology, I can help everyone in Pakistan. Perseverance is the key.” Being a minority in the STEM field often serves as a disadvantage. One feels that one has to work doubly to make your presence felt, more so while challenging the norms, and questioning the wrongs. Sara believes that strong passion, immense dedication, and constant hard work will make a huge difference between success and failure.

According to Sara, women with smartphones and internet are in a better position than those who do not have access to this opportunity. “Children, especially girls, should be taught coding and digital skills at school level so that they can utilise it with the knowledge to lead the world to the new age.” Advising young females on this IWD, Sara suggests, “Have faith in your abilities, regardless of how socially, economically and challenging it may be.”