Five Inspiring Pakistani Women
Bilquis Bano Edhi
“There is a woman behind every man”. Bilquis Edhi is a woman of substance, for sure; and she has come a long way with Edhi for a cause that is great.
Bilquis Bano Edhi, wife of Abdul Sattar Edhi, is a humanitarian, a social worker and one of the most active philanthropists in Pakistan. She headed the Edhi Foundation, and with her husband for almost 35 years. She sacrificed all luxuries, plans of her married life and didn’t complain for material things; rather she lived a simple life with the richest poor man of Pakistan.
In recognition of her services for humanity, she was awarded with the prestigious ‘Hilal-e-Imtiaz’ and many other accolades .For Bilquis the greatest rewards she receives are the success stories of those helped by the Edhi Foundation. Together with her husband their charity has saved over 16,000 unwanted babies.
Keeping her invaluable contributions in mind, it is not surprising that both Pakistan and “The Mother of Pakistan” born on the same date ‘14 August 1947’.
Dr. Parveen Rehman
Known as “The Rebel optimist” for her work, Dr. Parveen Rehman Born on 22 January1957 in Dhaka.
She was associated with social welfare for over 25 years. Her dedication changed the whole perception towards the community work. According to local residents she was like an elder sister to whom they discuss their problems and hardships. Her efforts in improving water supply in Karachi and restricting activities of land grabbing mafia were commendable.
She was appointed as a Director of Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) which encourages and help communities in maintaining their own systems for sanitation, health, housing and micro-finance. Despite of a lot of pressure and threats, she did not compromise on her principles and right of poor people. It was her dream that every citizen should have a shelter.
Considering her valuable services for humanity and her bravery President of Pakistan awarded her with prestigious award for her bravery ‘Sitara-i-Shujaat’ in 2013.
Sabeen, a women with humanity in her veins, was born on 20 June 1974. She was civil liberties activist and social worker who pioneered Pakistan’s first hackathon in 2013.
Sabeen, a young women entrepreneur and Peace activist, formed a small tech firm, established a charity (PeaceNiche) and a café ‘The Second Floor’ (T2F) where people could gather around shared interests and an interdisciplinary space for collaboration and brainstorming. She brought something new in ancient city of Karachi with no money, experience and market research. Seminars on Human Rights Issues were held regularly in her café. She raised her voice for the rights abuses in Baluchistan and inefficiencies of Pakistani society.
Sabeen was so vibrant, so alive and so determined. Her biggest dreams were to change the world for the better through the Internet and to de-weaponise Karachi.
She was a brave young activist who dared to challenge the evil forces and did not care for her safety.
Sabeen was killed shortly after hosting an event on people missing in Baluchistan at her café. For her undaunted social services she is admired by many human rights activists today.
Begum Ra’ana Liaqat Ali Khan
The story of Begum Ra’ana is a source of inspiration for us today.
Educated at the University of Lucknow, Ra’ana was the first “First Lady” of Pakistan. The lady was a pioneer of Women’s emancipation and a champion of their rights in Pakistan. Her services in creating APWA (All Pakistan’s Women’s Association), the Women’s National Guard and founding colleges and institutions for women are well known and worthy of respect.
After being appointed as governor of Sindh, Ra’ana encouraged Pakistani women to take up responsibilities in administering first aid, organizing food distribution, dealing with health problems, epidemics and clothing, and above all, in providing moral and emotional support. From her point of view, mobilizing women was absolutely critical for Pakistan’s development.
Ra’ana, as president of her NGO’s, is affiliated with international agencies and set up multi project centers for women throughout the country with schools, dispensaries and maternity homes, family planning clinics in both urban and rural areas.
It was Ra’ana who popularized the concept in Pakistan that, ‘You educate a woman, you educate an entire family’.
Begum Ra’ana continued her services for the social and economic uplift of women of Pakistan till her death in 1990.
Born in 1943 in Bengal, British India, Najma Sadeque moved to Karachi after marriage. As a student at the Viqarunnisa Noon School and College in Dhaka she was praised by her schoolteachers for her knack for writing in English.
Najma later became a leading woman journalist, an author, a human rights activist and an environmentalist. Perturbed by the extent of human rights, Najma in 1975 formed an NGO named “Shirkat Gah”.
Najma was a veteran journalist and a proficient writer who contributed articles on human rights, gender issues and environment to newspapers as a freelancer.
Her parting message was that an era has come to an end: an era of activism, struggle for human rights and women’s rights, and the best of journalism. She was a staunch advocate of women’s rights; be it farm workers, bonded labourers in brick kilns or women working in suppressing environments in the corporate world, her message was clear: women should raise their voice against injustices.
Even during many of her seminars and presentations she floated the idea of microfinance for Pakistani women.
Written by Abdul Basit Shahid