Woman of the Month is a feature on my blog where each month I highlight a woman in the world who I think garners recognition. I started this mainly to increase Girl Power and empowerment, and because there’s a lot of women I feel are overlooked and I wanted to bring attention to them.
This month, I’m highlighting Asma Jahangir (عاصمہ جہانگیر).
Asma Jahangir was a Pakistani human rights lawyer and social activist. She often took cases related to women’s rights and other minority rights. She was vocal against mixing religion and politics. She was arrested and detained, and put on house arrest, on multiple occasions, and was always vocal about what she believed.
Jahangir helped the Women’s Action Forum, which campaigned against Pakistan’s discriminatory legislation. She set up the the first free legal aid centre in Pakistan (which you can follow on Twitter here!). In the 80s, Jahangir moved to Geneva and become the vice-chair of the Defence for Children International.
Jahangir co-founded and chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief. She was Pakistan’s first woman to serve as the President of Supreme Court Bar Association, co-chaired the South Asia Forum for Human Rights, and was the vice president of International Federation for Human Rights.
She holds an honorary degrees from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland., Queens University in Canada, Simon Fraser University in Canada, the University of Pennsylvania in the US, and Cornell University in the US. She was awarded a Legion of Honour from France. Jahangir was the first Pakistani to deliver the Amartya Sen Lecture at the London School of Economics in 2017. She was posthumously awarded Pakistan’s highest civilian award, the Nishan-e-Imtia, and the United Nations Human Rights Award.
Once again, I’m amazed at the lack of knowledge I have about such incredible women. Reading Jahangir’s Wikipedia page is amazing, and there are a ton of articles about her. I would definitely recommend reading this one from the Guardian, and also this one for more information on other prominent Muslim women and why they’re often ignored.
Thanks for reading! xx