Gone are the days when staying in the four walls of a house for a woman was appreciated and it was considered bad or taboo for a woman to do job except in some fields which were socially acceptable like teaching or medical. Ultimately the number of working women was very nominal. The inception of 21st century brought many changes in Pakistan like IT revolution, independence of print and electronic media and the revolutionary changes in education sector. With all these, the century is also marked with efforts which were made for the emancipation of women in Pakistani society. These efforts were made on different levels and now we can see women in almost every field of life ranging from the Parliament to any common field. They get equal opportunity to give their services and prove their talent. There are countless women serving in different fields who have proved that they are no less than their male counterparts.

To encourage the talented women and to pay tribute to those who have broken barriers to achieve success in their chosen fields, Coca Cola Beverages Pakistan Limited (CCBLP) launched ‘Savvy & Successful’ in 2013 as an annual event. This event pays tribute to those women who have burning desires to find their inner excellence and achieved success. It is a tribute to womanhood and to all those women of Pakistan who have overcome impossible challenges to achieve remarkable success in their chosen fields. This success is not only in terms of positively impacting the larger society, in terms of promoting Pakistan internationally, in terms of shining examples for countless other Pakistani women to gain inspiration and strength from them.

This year Savvy & Successful presented awards to six iconic Pakistani women. These included Ameena Saiyid, Ayesha Farooq, Naseem Hameed, Nilofer Shahid, Roshaneh Zafar and Samina Baig.

Ameena Saiyid is a woman of great substance, with achievements that continue to have a far-reaching positive impact on the larger society. In 1988 she took over as the Managing Director of Oxford University Press, Pakistan and thus became the first Pakistani woman to head a multinational in Pakistan. She is the first woman in 150 years to become the vice president and then the president of the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI). She is the only Pakistani woman to be awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE). She is also the recipient of the prestigious Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, (Knight of the Order of Art and Literature) by the Government of France.

Ayesha Farooq, born in 1987, hails from the city of Bahawalpur. Amongst the 19 women who have joined Pakistan Air Force over the last decade or so, she is the first and the only combat-ready fighter pilot. Despite immense pressures from society, workplace and home, Ayesha’s commitment to her passion made the impossible happen. Flight Lieutenant Ayesha is thus not only a defender of the country; she is also a real-life role model for other Pakistani young women. She has proved that women can succeed if they are determined enough, even in high-risk professions traditionally thought to be the exclusive domain of men.

Naseem Hameed is a young female Pakistani athlete. In 2010 she emerged literally out of nowhere as the queen of the track by becoming the fastest woman in the whole of South Asia. By winning the gold medal in the 100 metres sprint event at the SAF Games held in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2010, she wrote a new chapter in the sports history of Pakistan. Her victory and her indefatigable spirit have since helped her to dream even bigger and establish the Naseem Hameeed Sports Academy, to train upcoming athletes.

The ‘Runway Empress’ of Pakistan, Nilofer Shahid, is Pakistan’s finest legacy to fashion. Her house of Meeras, meaning heritage, is at best, an immortalization of the past ensnared in her classical ensembles. An ambassador of her country’s traditions, she has the distinction of being exhibited at world renowned venues, from Louvre in Paris to Royal Albert Hall in UK, from Prague to Zurich, from Hollywood to the Middle East and from India to Central Asia. She is the only Pakistani designer to be invited by “Le Chamber de Syndicate de Ia couture” to show her collection on the Paris runway during the “Haute Couture Week” in January 2007. Her stellar list of clientele includes Royal families of the Middle East, Madonna, Jemima Goldsmith and Princess Diana to name a few. In 2013 she received the Grade de Chevalier award, or the Order of Arts & Letters from the government of France.

Roshaneh Zafar, born into an elite family of Lahore, joined the World Bank after graduating from the Wharton Business School and Yale University. Dr Muhamad Yunus inspired her to start a microfinance institute in Pakistan, similar to the Grameen model in Bangladesh. A strong believer in women empowerment, she launched the Kashf Foundation in 1996. Revolutionary change-makers like her believe in creating solutions that empower the poorest of women, whom no one else is ready to support. The US State Department has honoured her with the One Women Initiative Award in 2009. She has also been awarded Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, the highest civilian award in Pakistan.

Samina Baig belongs to a small remote village, Shimshal, in the Hunza Valley, but her achievements are very big indeed. At the age of 15 years, she began her journey as a high altitude mountain climber, and on May 19, 2013, she set foot on the highest point on Planet Earth, the summit of Mt. Everest. Her conquest of Everest came at the age of just 22 years, following a year’s strenuous training, which eventually ended in glory, making her the youngest Muslim and the first Pakistani woman to summit Mount Everest. Samina made a conscious effort to break stereotypes attached to Pakistani woman, and went on to become one of the most famous and celebrated young women of the world.

Nilofer Shahid also paid tribute to woman of high achievers by Meeras Fashion Show. The opening Red and Black segments depicts agony, despair and confusion gradually evolving into stronger force equipped with confidence, self assurance and ready to combat the world and finally gaining peace, higher self esteem, respect and eventual elevation. The Finale garment ‘Kamal – The Perfect’ defines the spiritual ascent through mind and love to the perfect.

There were lot more other attractions for the people who participated in this event. It was a an unforgettable feast for the people who were also entertained with live performance of Coke Studio in which artists from different countries participated and performed live for the audience. A tasty dinner was also served from CCBLP which the participants relished.

While our society struggles to support female empowerment on various fronts, women like above have inspired many others by proving that taboos can be broken and dreams can be achieved. Such women in our society have given several other women a reason to believe, and as a result more and more talented women are coming at the forefront in different fields of life.