Aurat Raj; A Combination of Technology and Women Empowerment

The Why

I started off in 2017 – the whole idea was to find role models for myself and in the process, bring forward female role models for women in Pakistan. The initial idea was to have a blog and write about what’s happening in Pakistan, identify challenges for women. I have a journalist background, but I found that the content I was creating wasn’t gaining that much traction. I was also at NEST in Karachi, so I noticed the latest trends in technology – I started thinking along the lines of blockchain, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality to incorporate technology into my idea. Lots of ideas were coming to me – I realized that we need to make these hard subjects fun. That’s when we started our cartoon series called Raaji – this was a story we had come across in rural Sindh. When we started narrating the story, it received great engagement. The immediate thing that happens when we show our cartoon is that young girls start talking about all the stuffed subjects that are not talked about commonly. That’s when we started our chatbot app, games, mentorship sessions that can be scheduled online. Aurat Raaj is all about combining technology with women empowerment.

There have been some major milestones for Aurat Raaj this year. How does it feel?

A lot of people know about the milestones, but I don’t often talk about the challenges enough. I don’t come from a fundraising background – I don’t know how to do financing. Since I’ve always worked in a job, I didn’t know how to handle all the details related to organizational structure. I also didn’t know what acceleration meant, what investment terminology was. I had to learn all these things and much more in a year’s span. There is a lot of learning and work that still needs to be done. There have been a lot of challenges in terms of learning. Due to the challenges related to funding, there were moments when I thought I would have to close shop. We were also threatened because of the nature of the work that we were doing – my parents weren’t happy about that and the kind of places I had to visit to do my work. We have spoken about some of the biggest societal taboos and challenges because of which we were not supported. I think after all this time, now I’m supported – we’re doing things more openly now. One of the reasons I started working on Raaji was that I could hide behind its character. When it comes to the wins, all the media coverage and grants are very new to me and have just started pouring in – I’m a bit confused about it. I just want to say goodbye to the visibility and focus on doing the work. My idea of innovation is that if you’re not doing, you’re not going ahead. The milestones, which are global and very few entrepreneurs have been able to achieve them, are great but this is just the beginning – we needed this push to go to the next level.

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