Fauzia Wahab: A trailblazer for Pakistani women

Published: June 21, 2012
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Fauzia Wahab's death is a colossal tragedy we can only hope to ever overcome. PHOTO: FILE

Pakistan has lost a very special person. A woman who stood up for what she wanted, who spoke out in spite of criticism, who spread smiles with her wit and played a major part in empowering Pakistani women. The demise of Fauzia Wahab is an irrecoverable loss. She was an absolutely admirable woman and the mother of the nation. May Allah bless her soul and give our bereaved nation the courage to cope with this tragedy.

Wahab fought for democracy, human rights and women’s empowerment. Through sheer hard work, dauntlessness and sincerity, she became the face of the country’s largest political party, PPP, and by virtue of her own personal background and dedication, she became the voice of the middle class.

In countries like Pakistan, it is very difficult for a woman to participate in politics and earn the kind of respect Wahab was destined to get. She was a natural and effortlessly set an example for women all over Pakistan. Through her visible and indirect role as PPP MNA and office bearer, she accomplished milestone after milestone for women’s empowerment. She played a key role in a number of bills related to women empowerment, changing the face of how women are treated in Pakistan.

Wahab never shied away from helping women who hailed from lower and middle classes. In fact, many women felt secure in sharing their problems with her. Her efforts for making quiet, oppressed Pakistani women come out of their shell and ask for their due rights is commendable.

A popular parliamentarian, Wahab enjoyed great support for her work. She embarked on her political career by volunteering for the PPP in the 1988 general elections. In 1995, she became the information secretary of the PPP Sindh Women’s Wing. She also remained a member of the party’s advisory council from 1994 to 1996 and chairperson of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s information committee from 1994 to 1995. Foreign affairs, finance and women’s development issues interested her in particular. Later on, in 1998, Benazir Bhutto nominated Wahab to become the Central Coordinator of the Human Rights Cell and she was tasked to correspond with human rights defending organisations abroad.

In 2003, she attended the National Defence College course for bringing the politicians and Armed forces close to each other. She was one of the initiators of relationship with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and was invited to attend the “Win with Women – Global Initiative” of the Institute in December 2003. In June 2004, she was invited by the NDI to attend the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

She was appointed central information secretary of party in 2009.

Wahab chose to side with the PPP because she believed that it was the only political party open to liberal democratic values and that it was not plagued with gender discrimination. Her dedication to PPP was matchless. She always defended her party even in the most difficult of times. Wahab was unstoppable and the most honest person and, in my opinion, the only leader who followed the footsteps of Benazir Bhutto. Her vision and practical politics were in accordance with the fundamental documents of PPP. Moreover, she upheld the liberal face of PPP in a highly polarised, fanatic and charged environment of Pakistan. No doubt, she was a courageous woman. She is described by her friends and family as a witty person who loved a good sense of humour.

It is a tragedy indeed that her outspoken and secular voice is no more.

Her sad demise is a big blow for Pakistan and the vacuum created after her death will never be filled.

Saifur.Rehman

Saif RK

An advocate for Pakistan and US relationship, he has a keen interest in humanitarian assistance programs and tweets as @SaifRK (twitter.com/SaifRK)

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