Pakistan was named the second-worst country for gender equality in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2016. However, many Pakistani women have managed to contribute greatly to society and realise their goals in the face of overwhelming odds.
Their accomplishments are not confined to a particular field as they strive to bring about change across different areas and inspire others the world over. From social workers to entrepreneurs, we take a look at some of the women who made us mighty proud in 2016.
1. Minhal Sohail
Minhal Sohail became Pakistan’s first female shooter to compete at the Olympics. The 21-year-old secured 28th position in the 10m air rifle event at Rio this year.
Pakistani doctor wins prestigious entrepreneurship award in London
2. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy became the first Pakistani to win two Oscar awards after her documentary A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness shined at the 88th Academy Awards. The documentary follows the story of a teenage girl shot in the face by her own family; shedding light on honour killings in the country.
3. Gulalai Ismail and Saba Ismail
Two Pakistani women were awarded the prestigious Chirac Prize for “conflict prevention” in recognition of their contribution towards the development of a pacific and non-violent culture through the action of women and youth in Pakistan. Gulalai Ismail and Saba Ismail, co-founders of NGO Aware Girls, were presented the award by former French minister for culture Chirstine Albanel in a ceremony at Paris' Quai Branly Museum in November.
4. Fayeeza Naqvi
In January, Aman Foundation chairman Fayeeza Naqvi received the first-ever Global Humanitarian Award for Women’s and Children’s Health in recognition of her contribution to Pakistan’s health and education sector.
5. Nighat Dad
Lawyer and Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) director Nighat Dad was awarded the Dutch government’s 2016 Human Rights Tulip award in November. In 2012, the 34-year-old activist set up the DRF, a non-profit organisation aimed at educating Pakistanis on digital rights and dealing with online harassment. The organisation also campaigns against legislation on government surveillance and dissemination of personal information of customers by telcos to government agencies.
Pakistani woman wins global humanitarian award
6. Mona Prakash
In May, Hyderabad-based Mona Prakash Mahtani received the Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence, 2016, in the field of education. The award was given at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London by Youth Affairs Director Katherine Ellis. The award is given to young people under the age of 30 years who have made a significant contribution towards social uplift. Mahtani was the only Pakistani to receive the award in 2016.
7. Tabassum Adnan
Pakistani activist Tabassum Adnan won the prestigious 2016 Nelson Mandela-Graca Machel Innovation Award in April this year. Adnan, who founded the Khwendo Jirga, also won the 2015 Secretary of State’s International Woman of Courage Award as a victim of domestic violence fighting for women's rights.
8. Maryam Masood and Erum Masood
In August, Maryam Masood and Erum Masood made history when they piloted a Boeing-777 aircraft to several local and international destinations concurrently.
Pakistani organisation wins Global Goals Award in New York
9. Sania Nishtar
Former health minister Sania Nishtar is among six candidates nominated for the post of the World Health Organisation director general. Nishtar is one of only two women nominated for the post. She is also the founder and president of Heartfile, a health think tank, and co-chair of the WHO’s commission on ending childhood obesity.
10. Marium Malik
Not just a barrister today, Malik is also the recipient of Lincolns Inn’s Joan Denning Prize for topping the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) across the Commonwealth. The Joan Denning Prize is awarded to a student who obtains an ‘outstanding’ in the exceptionally demanding BPTC.
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