The highly-anticipated fourth edition of the Kashmir Hum Women Leaders Awards has concluded, honouring eleven remarkable women and one dynamic man from Pakistan and abroad.
The awards ceremony, held at the prestigious Jinnah Convention Centre in Islamabad, recognised the recipients for their outstanding contributions and achievements in various fields, including social work, healthcare, human rights, education, journalism, and special effects for movies. The event was graced by esteemed dignitaries, including Dr. Arif Alvi, the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Australian Deputy High Commissioner Damien Donovan, High Commissioner of Bangladesh HE MD Ruhul Alam Siddique, MNAs, anchorpersons, and socialites. Their presence has further solidified the award ceremony’s reputation as the country’s most coveted women’s award.
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The awards ceremony kicked off with a captivating performance by Arif Lohar and his children, setting the tone for the night. The hosts, Hamza Ali Abbasi and Sanam Jung, then recognised the advisory committee of the Hum Women Leaders Award (HWLA), which included Ameena Saiyid, Rehana Hakeem, Amin Hashwani, and Dr. Huma Baqai. The first award of the evening was presented to Parveen Saeed, founder of ‘Khana Ghar,’ an organisation that has been working tirelessly to end hunger in Pakistan since 2002. Australian Deputy High Commissioner HE Damien Donovan and the renowned actress Bushra Ansari presented the award to Ms. Saeed. The second award of the evening was presented to Khawar Mumtaz, former chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women from 2013 to 2019, and CEO of the leading feminist organization, Shirkat Gah. She is also a founding member of the Women’s Action Forum, which was formed to promote women’s equal rights in Pakistan. The award was presented by HE MD Ruhul Alam Siddique, High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Pakistan, and was received by Ms. Ameena Saiyid on behalf of Ms. Mumtaz. Ms. Karen Armstrong was also recognized with an award for her outstanding contributions to religious history and culture. As a global influencer and author, Ms. Armstrong’s work has made a significant impact on society. She sent a video message thanking the organizing committee of HWLA for this prestigious award. Sabina Khatri, founder of the Kiran Foundation and Ibtedai School, received the next award for her organization’s groundbreaking work in providing trauma-informed education to mothers and children in Lyari and Kati Pahari, two of Pakistan’s most violent neighborhoods. The award was presented by Ali Zafar and Naweera Adnan from United Industries Limited. The night’s celebration was heightened with a mesmerizing musical performance by the talented Risham Faiz Bhutta.
The next award was presented by Mawra Hocane and Shoaib Ehsan Aftab, representative of Jazz Pakistan, to Laraib Atta, a young VFX artist, for her exemplary work in the field of special effects and for inspiring young girls to pursue their dreams. Along with the role of being a mother, Laraib also dedicates her time to mentoring and coaching individuals interested in the industry. The following award was presented to Amna Nawaz for her journalistic brilliance and fortitude in the most influential newsrooms of the world. In 2019, Ms. Nawaz became the first Asian American and the first Muslim American to moderate a US presidential debate. Ms. Nawaz was named co-anchor of the PBS Newshour in 2023, becoming the first Muslim Pakistani-American and first-generation American to hold the anchor seat at Newshour, challenging the status quo and breaking barriers.
The next award of the evening was presented to Dr. Zeba Sathar, a visionary leader who has made significant contributions in promoting health and development through research and policy formulation. Her remarkable work has had a positive impact on countless people, especially women and children. The award was presented by Lieutenant General (r) Nigar Johar Khan HI TI and Duraid Qureshi. Ronak Lakhani, founder of Special Olympics Pakistan, was awarded for her instrumental contributions in advocating for and empowering differently-abled people. Special Olympics Pakistan has created over 400 leaders among athletes and youth, supported over 5000 coaches, and has involved more than 6000 family members of differently-abled athletes as volunteers.
Lakhani’s work has given thousands of differently-abled people a chance to be heard, recognized and has helped to end biases faced by them. The award was presented by Ms Alina Lodhi and Khushbakht Shujaat. The second segment was brought to a close with a captivating and mesmerizing performance by Ali Zafar, who won the audience over with a special ‘ghazal’ dedicated to women, leaving the attendees in high spirits.
The closing segment of the ceremony marked the pinnacle of the event, with the presentation of a special Kashmir Golden Plate to Ms Abida Malik, founder of Behbud Association, in recognition of the organization’s exceptional work in advancing humanitarian causes. Following this, the next award was presented to Naeem Ahmed Mirza, Founder of Aurat Foundation, who is an unwavering champion of women’s rights and gender equality in Pakistan. This award was presented by First Lady Mrs Samina Alvi, who praised Mr. Mirza for his dedication and contributions in the field of women’s empowerment.
The next award was presented to Dr Naseem Salahuddin, an illustrious figure in the field of public health and a pioneer in promoting the study and understanding of infectious diseases in Pakistan. Dr Salahuddin has made significant contributions to the field by initiating the infectious disease fellowship program in the country, founding the professional society for infectious diseases, and starting Pakistan’s first journal on transmissible diseases. President HNL Sultana Siddiqui had the honour of presenting the award to Dr Salahuddin and expressed her admiration for her remarkable achievements. The final award of the evening was presented by President Dr Arif Alvi to Dr Quratulain Bakhteari, who has dedicated her life to community development in Pakistan. Dr Bakhteari founded the Institute for Development Studies and Practices (IDSP) in Balochistan, the first of its kind in the region. The institute empowers young people through critical learning and practical community development practices, including community midwifery, management, IT, and leadership. Over 8,000 young women and men have graduated from the IDSP to date. Dr Bakhteari also played a pivotal role in establishing 2,200 rural girls’ primary schools across Balochistan and enrolling 200,000 girls, appointing 3,000 community-based women teachers. Her exceptional contributions to community development in Pakistan earned her the esteemed award, which was presented to her by President Dr Arif Alvi.
The awards ceremony is set to be televised globally in March 2023 on Hum.