Nominees from Pakistan
on Sunday - Pakistan -- July 3 2005-- Jamadi Al Awwal 25, 1426 A.H.
Nominees from Pakistan Nigar Ahmad
Nigar Ahmed (born 1945) has worked for nearly 20 years for the political, social, and economic empowerment of Pakistani women as executive director of the Aurat Publication and Information Service Foundation. Under her stewardship, Aurat has taken up a range of causes, from mobilising women candidates for local government elections to generating debate across the country about the World Trade Organization and the controversial issue of intellectual property rights.
Nusrat Ara (born 1954), who hails from the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP), took charge of her life, first by educating herself after marriage and then by launching an organisation for women's development in her hometown, Mardan. Her pioneering work at the district and community levels for more than two decades has helped women to empower themselves in a gravely conservative society without losing their traditional moorings.
Zakia Arshad (born 1953) has worked for more than 25 years with Pakistan's marginalised, especially poor women and children. Of special significance has been her work as a master-trainer and evaluator of the smokeless choolah (environmentally friendly cooking stove) projects with an array of organisations. She helped the Family Planning Association of Pakistan win a United Nations Environment Program's Global 500 Award for its work with smokeless stoves.
Nasreen Awan (born 1961) got herself an education in her home district of Sanghar, against the most daunting odds. Then, she determinedly carved out a career for herself as social activist in a region where women were not allowed to step out of their homes without the permission of men. Today, she heads an NGO.
Quratulain Bakhteari (born 1949) presides over a unique learning space in Pakistan's Balochistan province. Her brainchild, the Institute for Development Studies and Practices (IDSP), channels the energies of scores of young people, mainly from this poor and deprived region, by training them to be social activists and catalysts for change in their communities. The IDSP is the outcome of Quratulain's vast experience in development work, and her conviction that new ways must be found to integrate theory and practice in order to bring meaningful change.
Rubina Feroze Bhatti
Rubina Feroze Bhatti (born 1969), who works in two largely rural districts of Punjab province, has been a driving force against domestic violence in her area. Thanks to her, many women have been speaking out against ill-treatment at home, and more such cases have been reported to the police and the press in the previous three years than ever before.
Radical feminists call her a conformist and extreme religious-political groups think she promotes Western agendas. But Maryam Bibi (born 1950) deals with this dilemma just as she has handled all other challenges in her remarkable life -- with courage, humor, and optimism. The founder of Khwendo Kor, an NGO that works for women's development through education, healthcare, and micro-credit in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, has a genius for turning foes into friends with her inclusive and evolutionary approach.
Bilquis Edhi (born 1947) is synonymous in Pakistan with patience, farsightedness, compassion, and integrity. Through the Bilquis Edhi Foundation Trust, which set up with her husband, she has established 17 homes for children and women, where more than 4,000 children and 250 women live. She provides the women with legal assistance and counselling, and the children with career options and training.
When Kulsoom Farman (born 1957) started working for women's development in her native Baltisanm, a fatwa was issued by a religious leader asking people not to cooperate with her. Today, Farman is a role model for women in this intensely patriarchal society. She has played a vital part in bringing women out of their homes for education and employment, for the betterment of their own lives and that of the community.
If alternative theatre is today a vibrant form of political expression in Pakistan, a large share of the credit goes to Ajoka Theatre and its founder, Madeeha Gauhar, a theatre director and human rights activist. Led by Gauhar for over 20 years, Ajoka has been, and continues to be, an integral part of the struggle for a secular, democratic, humane, just, and egalitarian Pakistan.
Anis Haroon (born 1946) has made a major contribution to raising levels of awareness on women's rights and other social issues through her work as a journalist and social activist for the past 36 years. Currently resident director of the Aurat Foundation for Sindh, she mainly works out of Karachi, but reaches out to thousands of ordinary people across Pakistan through her articles and radio programmes.
Asma Jahangir (born 1952) is a thorn in the side of Pakistan's powerful. For a quarter-century, this human rights' lawyer has defended the oppressed in Pakistani society, among them political prisoners, bonded labourers, women, and minorities sentenced under unjust laws. She has also played a pivotal role in building institutional structures to provide free legal aid and monitoring human rights in Pakistan. Internationally recognised for her achievements, Jahangir is currently the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. She also works with the International Commission of Jurists, and is a senior UN official.
Hina Jilani (born 1953) has set standards for protecting human rights in Pakistan, especially the rights of women. For over two-and-half decades, this dedicated lawyer has fought discriminatory laws that have turned women into second class citizens in their own country. She has also set standards for her own profession by providing free legal aid to hundreds of clients from the platform of AGHS, and by settling up a shelter for women fleeing violence and abuse.
Yasmin Karim (born in 1962), an energetic pioneer in women's development in the remote Northern Areas and Chitral (NAC), is an inspiration to the women of this rugged, mountainous, and desperately poor region. Yasmin has travelled from village to village to motivate women to set up their own organisations, and acquire vocational and professional skills that have transformed their lives. She formed 600 such organisations, covering about 80 per cent of the households in the area under her charge.
Parveen Azam Khan
Dr Parveen Azam Khan (born 1938), founder and head of the Dost Welfare Foundation, has truly been a friend and a saviour to some of the most marginalised people in Pakistani society -- drug users, women and juvenile prisoners, refugees, and streetchildren. Thanks to her work, thousands of drugs users in the North Western Frontier Province have been rescued from hopeless lives as mendicants, prisoners, or wastrels. She has also managed to push through changes in the way the justice system treats vulnerable prisoners.
Mehmooda Salim Khan
Few people in their 90s can hope to lead as active and as socially engaged a life as Mehmooda Salim Khan, who retains her unflagging interest in the causes that have dominated her life for the past six decades, especially the care of people suffering from tuberculosis. Starting out as the wife of a civil servant, Khan embarked on a remarkable career as a social worker and politician after her husbandís death.
Sheema Kirmani's efforts to revive dance in a conservative society have created a cultural revolution in Pakistan. Her dauntless efforts to integrate, mainstream and mobilise classical dance, theatre, television, drama as forms of alternative communication have been liberating, particularly for women. In a hostile environment dance/drama is a medium that is widely accepted by all segments of society and helps to foster peace and friendship in the region.
For most people, a physical affliction is a devastating setback, but for Dr Salma Maqbool, (born 1945) it served as an inspiration. After being diagnosed with a serious eye disease in her late 20s, she decided to devote her life to the cause of the disabled multitude in Pakistan and beyond. Her efforts over nearly three decades have inspired the disabled in her country to combat prejudice and fight for their rights, and have helped sensitise society to their situation and special needs.
The work of activist and writer Khawar Mumtaz (born 1945) over more than two decades has helped to place women's rights on the agenda of government, political parties, and religious parties in Pakistan. The 33 per cent reservation of seats for women in local government, and in provincial and national parliaments, was achieved through the collective action of Mumtaz and other women activists. Her visible activism continues to inspire many others to fight for women's rights.
Denied the chance to complete her own education, Dilshad Murtaza has made it her mission to ensure that poor children in the northern areas of Pakistan are able to access educational opportunities. Murtaza, who has been involved in voluntary work for over two decades, set up the K2 Development Organisation five years ago, which aims to help poor children and women, especially widows: 22 women have so far been provided with vocational training, and 108 poor children have become literate.
For over four decades, Kishwar Naheed has been a fearless and independent voice in support of the arts and culture in Pakistan, in an environment that has, at times, been extremely hostile. In her current role as coordinator of Hawwa Crafts Cooperatives, this gifted feminist writer, poet, and activist has been responsible for reviving dying crafts in remote areas of Pakistan, and for helping about 2000 craftswomen make a better lives for themselves.
The daughter of farmers, Akeela Naz (born 1976) was the first woman to join Anjuman Muzareen-Punjab, a movement of landless tenants in Punjab, and has been at the forefront of their struggle for ownership rights to the lands they have cultivated for generations. She has motivated many women to join this million-strong movement, of which she is now general-secretary.
Akhtar Riazuddin (born 1928) reaches out to thousands of poor homes in Pakistan through the Behbud Association of Pakistan (BAP), an NGO that she founded for community development 37 years ago. A woman of many talents, Akhtar brought significant changes in the status of women in Pakistan when she served as a top-ranking bureaucrat in the federal government. She is also a gifted Urdu writer and has extensively researched the crafts of India and Pakistan.
Majida Rizvi (born 1937) has the honour of having been the first woman to serve as a judge in a High Court in Pakistan. A tireless campaigner for women's legal rights for the past three-and-a-half decades, Majida is a role model for young women lawyers. In her current position as chairperson of the National Commission for the Status of Women in Pakistan, she has worked hard to educate politicians, other opinion-makers, and the public about the urgent need to reform a slew of laws that discriminate against women.
Hilda Saeed (born 1936) battled discrimination in her own life, when as a Christian married to a Muslim in Muslim-majority Pakistan, she faced all-round hostility. That first-hand experience of insular discrimination contributed to her decision, later in life, to become a tireless campaigner for the rights of women, as well as for minority rights and interfaith dialogue and harmony.
Zari Sarfaraz (born 1923) has been in public service ever since her country was born in 1947. Starting out by working for the relief and rehabilitation of refugees who had poured into the new nation from undivided India, Sarfaraz went on become a politician and Parliamentarian with the Muslim League party, and to work for tuberculosis patients in her native North Western Frontier Province. This multifaceted woman also runs industries such as sugar mills and ceramic factories in the region.
Only two of Pakistan's 101 district nazims are women, and Nafisa Shah (born 1968) is one of them. A diacritic woman administrator in an almost exclusively male domain, Shah has set new standards for integrity. She leads from the front in dealing with injustices against women and the poor, and has made her district a model of community-supported development.
One of Pakistan's foremost women activists, Farida Shaheed leads the Women, Law, and Status programme at the Shirkat Gah Women's Resource Centre. Farida was one of the first in Pakistan to promote the need for 33 per cent reserved seats for women in direct elections, a measure that has been implemented at the district and other levels. Since 1986, she has been part of the core of the international network, Women Living under Muslim laws (WLUML), and has helped many women whose rights and/or lives are endangered by discriminatory laws.
Shehla Zia (1947-2005) was a lawyer specialising in criminal and constitutional law who devoted her energies to securing women's legal rights in Pakistan for 35 years, both as a practising lawyer and in her current role as a joint director of Aurat Foundation. Shehla was also director of the Foundation's legislative watch programme, which monitors women's participation in the legislative process.