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In 2016, CIRCLE launched its flagship initiative, ELEVATE to promote gender diversity and grow women leaders. Through ELEVATE, CIRCLE addresses United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 5, 8, and 17, internationally recognized markers of progress.
A McKinsey Global Institute report finds that through advancing women’s equality, $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025. Currently, only 25% of management positions are occupied by women globally, while in Pakistan less than 2% women are in leadership roles. Moreover, research also shows that women are under-represented at every level of the corporate pipeline.
Despite decades of progress towards making women equal partners with men in the economy & society, along with the commitment of many organizations, the gap between the two still remains large.

Elevate has three key goals, to accelerate women’s economic inclusion and empowerment:
              1. Increase women’s representation on boards and leadership positions,
              2. More women led businesses in supply chains,
              3. Gender balanced conferences and panels.



ELEVATE Closing Ceremony

According to the Global Gender Gap Index 2018 report, Pakistan is ranked as the second worst country for gender parity. Research also shows women are underrepresented at every level of the corporate pipeline. The ELEVATE program brings women from different sectors to provide tools to exercise leadership, build allies and connect with mentors.

In June 2019, CIRCLE Women hosted the Closing Ceremony of its third ELEVATE: Growing Women Leaders Program cohort, to celebrate and champion 22 emerging women leaders from 6 leading companies:

  • Dawood Hercules
  • English Biscuit Manufacturers
  • Ideas by GulAhmed
  • Mitsubishi Corporation
  • Reon Energy
  • Telenor Microfinance Bank


Our Inspirational Speaker this year was Rafia Qaseem Baig, Pakistan and Asia’s first female Bomb Disposal Officer.

At the ELEVATE closing, while sharing her personal experience, she spoke about rising the ranks in a field dominated by men, encouraged the crowd to do the same, and break barriers along the way.

People always tried to degrade and demotivate me, but I persisted. I persisted because I always knew that people will try to stop you in your path to success.

To rise above it depends on you: Either you build a wall of difficulties or a bridge towards success. I chose to build that bridge.

Country Representative for UN Women Pakistan, Jamshed Kazi, in a message to our crowd, encouraged the corporate sector to come and work together to building a pipeline of female leaders. Mr. Kazi emphasized on the need for male allies, not just at home but at the workplace, as well.

“In today’s world, a girl who is born today will become an 80 year old woman before she stands the same chance as a man to become the CEO of a company. That’s a situation nobody should be satisfied with. “


Through ELEVATE, CIRCLE aims to mobilize CEOs and gain commitment from heavy-hitting corporations to grow women leaders and build gender diverse organizations which boost the bottom line.

ELEVATE champions include CEOs of leading corporates such as Jazz, UBL, Standard Chartered, Unilever, Mitsubishi Corp and National Foods. Several others are in discussions with CIRCLE.

img_5805-1ELEVATE mobilizes CEOs to commit to:

1. Increasing women’s employment,

2. Bring women in leadership roles, boards and women businesses into  procurement and supply chains of companies,

3. Invest in growing women leaders,

4. Invest in initiatives for women’s empowerment.

Current #ElevatePak Supporters

Make A Difference

‘I pledge that I will only participate in balanced panels with at least one woman speaker in a panel of three or more.’

Click here to sign the pledge #ElevatePak

 Our Endorsers

Naeem Zamindar

"Acumen has released a report that clearly shows enterprises with more gender balance perform better across indicators. I pledge that I will include women on all panels that Acumen organizes, and urge inclusion of women on all panels on which I participate. Elevate is an initiative that will quickly start producing strong results and a richer experiences for any event." -Naeem Zamindar, CEO Acumen Pakistan

Tariq Kirmani

"I fully support your initiative The Elevate Campaign in support of women being given equal opportunities in all spheres of life rather being discriminated against." -Tariq Kirmani, Chairman Green Star

Shazia Syed

“It is imperative for every business leader to create an enabling culture, in order for more women to gain opportunities for leadership. This equity must begin with the commitment towards diversity and inclusion at all forums for dialogue.” -Shazia Syed, Chairperson & CEO, Unilever Pakistan Limited

Zafar A Khan

"We have severely limited our potential as a nation by not giving equal participation to women at the leadership level. This has to change for a better Pakistan. My nearly five decades of work experience convinces me that this is the way forward." -Zaffar A. Khan, (S.I) Adjunct Professor IBA & former CEO of Engro Chemicals

Ayesha Aziz

"Hard work and talent are normally enough to propel men forward in life. Not so women who have to be smarter, more driven, tenacious and thick-skinned to chart their way. The burden for change must fall equally, if not more, on male shoulders." -Ayesha Aziz, Managing Director Pak Brunei

Naz Khan

"It is unfortunate that we are still debating parity. Women’s participation at a broader level is no longer a choice, it is an imperative." -Naz Khan, CFO Engro Corp

Fatima Asad

1"We cannot truly rise as a nation without giving our women a voice that is heard and respected. I pledge I shall participate in panels that ensure gender diversity and endeavor to facilitate the Elevate campaign." -FATIMA ASAD, Regional Director Abacus Consulting

Nadeem Husain

"I have always had females in my management team.  Women look at problems from a different lens. They provide texture and diversity. I am more than pleased to support the Elevate campaign." -NADEEM HUSSAIN, Founder, President & CEO Tameer Bank

Zeelaf Munir

"Women in leadership enhance organizational excellence. Therefore, we must inspire, organize, mentor and empower women to help them reach leadership ranks in the public and private sectors. We must also safeguard their rights - because women’s rights are human rights and our nation’s future is linked with the future of our women". -ZEELAF MUNIR, CEO English Biscuit


"Women's voices are systematically excluded from global and local public discourses." -MOSHARRAF ZAIDI, Columnist, Diplomat and Political Activist

Rafay Alam

"I've been researching water law and policy the past few years. Half the people in the world who consume water are women. Several hundred rivers and basins are transboundary. Yet none of the laws, policies or institutions overlooking the subject have any women representatives. It's appalling. I formally pledge to ensure I never appear on any panel of three or more people that does not include at least one woman." -Rafay Alam, Environmental Lawyer and Activist

Bilal Lakhani

"Society is shortchanged when women’s voices aren’t heard or listened to. I will not sit on any panel where women aren’t present." -Bilal Lakhani, Founder and Publisher of The Express Tribune

Kamran Rizvi

"The time to build an inclusive world is now - now more than ever, as the challenges confronting humanity have grown exponentially. It is through love, understanding and a sense of fair play that human beings around the world, regardless of their gender, can actively share in the responsibility of leading and inspiring people in their respective spheres of influence, at home, at work and in society." -Kamran Rizvi, Founder of KZR Associates

Babar Ali

"Experience has taught me that elevating women elevates us all." -Syed Babur Ali, Businessman, Philanthropist and former Finance Minister


"It's elementary! We will eventually only achieve half our potential as humankind, if women are not an equal part of all our personal, business, societal and global endeavors." -Khurram Zafar, Executive Director LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship

Seema Tahir

“Women’s ideas and perspectives are as crucial as any other member of an organization. They bring miscellany and diversity to the table. It is quite unfortunate that even now this fact is still a matter of debate.” -Seema Tahir, CEO Airwaves Media

Mushtaq K. Chhapra

“More than half of 25 million children of Pakistan who are not in school today are girls. Let’s invest in gender equality and women’s empowerment to unlock the human potential on a transformational scale. Let our girls learn and do wonders.” -Mushtaq K. Chhapra, TCF Chairman and Founder

Sadia Khan

"We need to ensure that the corporate mindset is geared towards ensuring the alignment of its principles of gender parity across all spheres of its economic activity. For this to happen, we need the decision makers, to comprise of at least a few of those with these issues closest to their hearts." -Sadia  Khan, Selar Enterprises (pvt) ltd


tushna "Women are essential for adding perspective and diversity to any discussion or organization. The importance of gender balance and its positive impact on society and business are statistically proven." -Tushna Kandawalla Director Captain PQ Chemical Industries


muneza "Silence on the part of women, earlier considered to be a virtue is now equivalent to an offence as it represents inadequate utility of one of the five senses bestowed by the Almighty." -Moneeza Usman Butt Partner KPMG Taseer Hadi & Co;Chartered Accountants

Sana Mir

sana-mir "Women have to be each other's strength. We need to learn to support one another so that our position in this country improves." -Sana Mir Captain of Pakistan's National Women's cricket team

Our Founding Members

The founding CEOs are men committed to advancing women in work force and leadership, while the overall campaign is supported by both men and women.

  • Michael Foley

    -Michael Foley CEO Telenor

  • Kimihide Ando

    -Kimihide Ando CEO Mitsubishi Corp

  • Amir Iqbal

    -Amir Iqbal CEO Bayer

  • -Ahmed Jalal CEO Aman Foundation

    -Ahmed Jalal CEO Aman Foundation

  • -Ziad Bashir Director Gul Ahmed

    -Ziad Bashir Director Gul Ahmed

  • -Asad Ali Khan CEO Abacus Consulting

    -Asad Ali Khan CEO Abacus Consulting

  • - Rizwan Ullah Khan General Manager Pakistan & Afghanistan Region

    -Rizwan Ullah Khan General Manager of The Coca Cola Company for Pakistan and Afghanistan Region

Our Partners

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  • nutshell
  • pasha
  • lums
  • i2i
  • US-Pakistan-Women
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  • british-council
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  • terrabiz
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