An award-winning journalist, Zubeida Mustafa is a columnist for Dawn, the newspaper she worked in 1975-2008. She was the first woman to be appointed to the editorial board of a mainstream newspaper in Pakistan. From this position she created space for women in the media. Through her writings she also brought about a shift in the content of the media by focusing on the human dimension and social issues. Health, education, women's empowerment and books became issues as important as politics to figure in the press. She continues to highlight these issues.
Ms Mustafa was twice awarded the Population Institute Washington's Global Award for Excellence in Reporting in 1986 and 2004. She is also the recipient of the International Women's Media Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award, Ms Mustafa has become an activist who campaigns for education for all, and language rights for children, while doing voluntary teaching for them.
Maleeha Lodhi has achieved many firsts for Pakistani women. She became the first woman to represent Pakistan as Ambassador to the United Nations. She was the first female editor of a national daily in all of Asia. She was the first Pakistani woman to serve on the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board for Disarmament Affairs Time magazine named her as one of 100 people in the world who will help shape the 21 st century, the only one from Pakistan. She became Pakistan’s most prominent and energetic diplomat, serving twice as Ambassador to the US, then as High Commissioner to the UK.
As diplomat, writer, journalist, academic and foreign policy expert she has scaled new heights for women, been a powerful symbol of what women can achieve and a role model for Muslim women the world over. She is the recipient of Pakistan’s highest civilian award, Hilal e Imtiaz, conferred for public service.
A brilliant actor, a sensitive writer and a mimic par excellence, Bushra Ansari is a woman of many parts. Beginning her career with a children's programme, Kaliyan, Ms Ansari rose to fame with her inimitable characters in TV's humorous shows Angan Terha, Showtime and Fifty Fifty, and later graduated to her iconic roles: Bilquis Kaur, Rasheeda Bibi and Saima Chaudhry. Truly unforgettable are her effortless parodies of the country's leading singers. She has garnered several awards including the President's Award for Pride of Performance.
Ms Ansari has been associated with several charities including the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, The Citizen's Foundation, the Behbud Trust and has been performing for fund-raisers for the Indus Hospital in the US, UK, Australia and Canada over the last two years. She also provides financial support to a few schools and college students.
Ms Mary Robinson has the distinction of being the first woman President of Ireland. (Dec 1990-Sept 1997). A forceful advocate of gender and racial equality, Ms Robinson has also served as UN Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), a post she resigned from following continuing pressure from the US. Subsequently she set up Realising Rights: The Ethical Globalisation Initiative to promote more humane immigration policies, strengthen women's leadership and encourage good governance in developing countries. Additionally, she set up the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice to secure global justice for the marginalized victims of climate change.
In November 2018, Ms Robinson was appointed chair of The Elders, an international NGO founded by Nelson Mandela, that works for peace and human rights. Ms Robinson's primary concern is to bring the concerns of ordinary people to the global stage.
A development economist, Dr Shamshad Akhtar was the first woman in Pakistan's history to be appointed Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan - a hitherto male domain. A post-doctoral Fulbright Fellow from Harvard University and a PhD in Economics, Dr Akhtar has served in several prestigious positions: Executive Secretary of the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Assistant Secretary-General UN for Economic and Social Affairs, Vice-President Middle East and North Africa at the World Bank, and Senior Special Advisor to the President of the Asian Development Bank. She was finance minister in Pakistan's last interim government in 2018.
Highly respected in international financial circles, in 2007, Dr Akhtar was declared Best Central Bank Governor by the Euromoney Institutional Investor, and in 2008 The Wall Street Journal Asia named her as one of Asia's top 10 women leaders.
There is no mountain hard to climb, for Samina Baig , Pakistan's first female mountaineer. In eight months, she has scaled the seven highest mountains across seven continents, setting a record of sorts and winning multiple accolades including the Presidential Award, the Pride of Performance. Hailing from the Shimshal Valley in the Karakoram mountain range, she conquered her first peak (6400 meters) in 2011 and her second (6008 meters) in 2011. But the best was yet to come: Mount Everest in 2013.
Incidentally, she is the first Pakistani woman to embark on high altitude expeditions in winter. Now as part of the Pakistan Youth Outreach Programme, she promotes adventure sports, especially among Pakistani women who are trailing far behind.
Narges Abyar is an award-winning Iranian film director, screenplay writer and author. Her work highlights the suffering of women and children as a consequence of war, radicalism and societal conditions. Her female characters do not conform to the traditional mores expected of them. Ms Abyar is best known for her films Track 143, Breath and When the Moon was Full. The last won the grand prize at the Carcasonne International Political Film Festival in France.
Ms Abyar has to her credit 30 works of fiction for both children and adults. Armed with determination and a very perceptive eye, she uses cinema and literature to showcase the truth.
A social scientist with a PhD from the University of Minnesota, Dr Fouzia Saeed is the Director General, Pakistan National Council of the Arts and has formerly served as executive director Lok Virsa, gender adviser to the UNDP and headed the UN Gender Program in Pakistan. She has made significant contributions in highlighting women’s issues.
Dr Saeed has always taken a courageous stand against sexual harassment and shown exemplary commitment to women’s advancement. She is a recipient of the Battle of Crete Award in memory of the bravery of women of Crete in the Second World War by Oxiday Foundation for her outstanding bravery and commitment to women causes.
DR SEEMIN JAMALI
Dr Seemin Jamali, Executive Director of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, volunteered for the hospital's ER department in 1986 with an Iron will to turn things around by Implementing World Health Organization rules. The department has also faced several terrorist attacks but Dr Jamali stood her ground valiantly and raised a state-of-the-art facility which is now the pride of public sector hospitals all over Pakistan.
She has a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Public Health Policy and Injury Prevention from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, USA. Dr Jamali is the recipient of many awards including the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan in 2018 for her outstanding contributions in the public sector.
Jalila Haider is the first female attorney of the Hazara community. A political rights activist from Balochistan , she is the founder of We, the Humans--Pakistan, a non-profit organization which aims to strengthen vulnerable women and children of local communities. Ms Haider provides free counseling and legal services to women facing sexual harassment, domestic violence and property disputes. She Is also crusader for minorities and religious rights.
In 2014, she was selected as an Atlantic Council Emerging Leaders of Pakistan Fellow, and in 2019 she made It to BBC's list of the 100 most inspiring and influential women from around the world.
For a woman seeking justice in a legal system that is stacked against her fraternity, Khadija Siddiqi's life story provides a ray of hope. In May 2016, Ms Siddiqi was stabbed 23 times by a fellow student, son of a senior advocate. A determined Siddiqi fought a three-year long battle plus blackmail and harassment in court. Finally, justice prevailed-- or so she thought. To her shock and dismay, her assailant, who was sentenced to seven years, was subsequently released, sparking outrage on social media. Fortunately, the Supreme Court sprang into action with a suo moto and the case was reopened.
Ms Siddiqi pursued the case with renewed vigour in Lahore while studying for her law degree in the UK. Her eventual victory in the Supreme Court was deemed a victory for the women of Pakistan, who look up to her as a role model. Now a committed and passionate human rights lawyer and activist, Ms Siddiqi is a motivational speaker at various national and international forums. She is an ambassador for justice at CDRS and PTS Foundation, UK.
Omer Aftab is a globally recognized campaign strategist for women and child health, economic and social development, social justice and human rights. As a strategist, Mr Aftab has not only brought a positive change in the behavior of the general public but has also introduced policy reforms for the development of youth and women. He is credited with launching far-reaching and courageous interventions in Pakistan such as the Pink Ribbon National Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, the White Ribbon Men’s Movement for Ending Violence Against Women and National Initiative on Health.
Mr Aftab is the only Pakistani professional who has been awarded the FrontLine Golden World Award by the International Public Relations Association – IPRA.