Tech girls transforming Lyari
Jamila & Rabika have not yet graduated from Benazir Bhutto University, but they’ve already scored one-on-one meetings with the Senior Superintendent Faizullah Korejo, the Director of K-Electric Humayun Saghir and Municipal Commissioner Afaque Sayeed.
These talented computer engineers have set out to change their city with an android app called Wannaping. The app builds a community around the city’s various issues and alerts government and non-government authorities as well as media channels so that problems can be resolved efficiently.
The twenty-one year olds grew up in Lyari at a time when gangwars, mobs and blazing bullets were all a norm. Today, Lyari is heavily guarded and controlled by the rangers and the improving situation has given the girls a chance to finish their university degrees.
Although the political climate in Lyari has improved, the cultural attitudes about women studying and working outside their homes have not changed.
“My younger sister got married even before she finished college. I’m considered the black sheep of the family because I’m bent on pursuing computer science and taking this app forward,” says Jamila.
Fortunately, Jamila’s co-founder Rabika has never been stopped from studying or working as her own mother is also an educator and an advocate of girl’s education.
“For me the real struggle is multitasking my final semester at university, regularly meeting partners for the app, and then working on development and database from The Nest,” says Rabika who commutes everyday back and forth through public transport in Karachi.
Her team was selected to be part of a Karachi-based tech incubator’s 5th incubation cycle and will spend four months there being mentored, advised and supported by them.
Rabika and Jamila are setting a new precedent for the girls and young women in their area. All their closest friends attend Benazir Bhutto University where girls actively take part in extracurricular activities especially football, table tennis and badminton.
When I ask them if they need some help from their male counterparts to design the app, they both look at me as if I’ve said the silliest thing possible.
“We will design it ourselves,” say the bright Pakistani women in STEM with sparkling eyes and happy smiles.