Flashback: The professional Muslim woman

My dadi travelled deep into villages across the country, organised social groups, and empowered women.

August 21, 2014

After earning a Masters’ degree in Economics from Government College Lahore in 1938, my dadi Shameem Saadat initiated her career as Assistant Registrar Cooperative Societies. This was the time when the Lord Darling Commission on Rural Debt had raised consciousness about the crushing burden of rural debt in India, at the hands of loan sharks. Transcending the boundaries of conventional thinking and prejudices of society at the time, Shameem travelled deep into villages across the country, organised social groups, and empowered women to form rotating saving societies (popularly known as ‘committees’). In 1954, she was selected as Assistant Director Industries, in charge of West Pakistan’s women’s vocational institutions.  The Women’s Vocational Institutes were showcased to visiting dignitaries and Shameem was deputed to host visitors like Helen Keller, Farah Diba, and Jacqueline Kennedy, creating a positive image of a professional Muslim woman engaged in the service of her country.




This August, The Express Tribune will feature photographs from contributions to an open call for images from the struggle for independence and Pakistan’s formative years.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2014.


Shayma | 9 years ago | Reply

Thank you for featuring my grandmother in your paper. I am most honoured to be a part of this series, and a huge thanks to Sanam Maher for orchestrating this series. All my best, Shayma Owaise Saadat

Zaida Parvez | 9 years ago | Reply

These days women in Pakistan are treated as baby making factories.

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