The first of its kind Women’s Day was observed on 28 February 1909 in New York to commemorate the first anniversary of the strike observed by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.

Decades later in 1977, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared 8 March as the official International Women’s Day. Since then, the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women are celebrated across the world on this day. It is celebrated in different ways worldwide, with some countries observing a public holiday on this day.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow.’ In view of this day, ProPakistani has highlighted 11 Pakistani women who broke all stereotypical barriers and made the country proud.

Dr. Sania Nishtar

Dr. Sania Nishtar is the Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety and she was elected to the Senate in 2021 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. She heads Ehsaas, the PTI government’s flagship social protection, and oversees the implementation of a wide range of programs operating under the Ehsaas umbrella.

Born in Peshawar, Sania Nishtar graduated from Khyber Medical College in 1986 before being inducted into the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan in 1991. Dr. Sania joined the Pakistan Institute of Medical Science in 1994 and went on to complete her Ph.D. from King’s College London in 2002.

Dr. Sania founded Heartfile, an Islamabad-based health policy think tank and she has been serving as co-chair of WHO’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity since 2014.

Bismah Maroof

Bismah Maroof is leading Pakistan women’s team in the ongoing 2022 Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand. She is accompanied by her six-month-old daughter who was the center of attention after the Indo-Pak match.

Since her debut in 2006, Bismah has represented Pakistan in over 200 matches. She captained the national side between 2013 and 2020. She became the first Pakistani batter to score 1,000 ODI runs. Bismah took a break from cricket in April last year and gave birth to a girl in August. She announced her availability in December 2021 and was made captain once again.

Nigar Johar

Nigar Johar is the first female Lieutenant General of the Pakistan Army. She is also the first female Surgeon General in the Pakistan Army. Hailing from Panjpeer, District Swabi, Nigar became the third female Major General in the Pakistan Army back in 2017.

Lt. Gen. Nigar has previously served in some key positions including the Commandant of Pak-Emirates Military Hospital, Deputy Commandant of Combined Military Hospital (CMH), and Vice-Principal of Army Medical College, Rawalpindi.

Karishma Ali

Karishma Ali is the first female footballer from Chitral who has made it to the women’s national team. She is the founder of Chitral Women’s Sports Club which aims to create and promote an environment that enables Chitrali girls to safely engage in sports.

Karishma represented Pakistan in the 2016 Jubilee Games in Dubai and helped the country to win a silver medal. She also represented the country in the 2017 Australian Football League International Cup. Karishma had also featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia List in 2019.

Justice Ayesha Malik

Justice Ayesha Malik is the first woman judge ever to be elevated to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Before assuming office in the apex court, she had been serving as a judge in Lahore High Court (LHC) since 2012.

Ayesha went to school in Paris and New York, after which she completed her B.Com in Karachi. Her initial legal education was at Pakistan College of Law in Lahore, following which Ayesha attended Harvard Law School Cambridge for her LLM. Ayesha became a London H. Gammon Fellow in 1998-1999 for her outstanding academic achievements during her time at Harvard.

Saima Saleem

Saima Saleem is the first visually impaired CSS officer. Saima became the first diplomat to deliver a speech using braille at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) when she bashed India for human rights abuses in Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

Saima cleared her CSS exam in 2007 and was allocated to the Foreign Service of Pakistan (FSP) for securing the 6th position. She is currently posted as the Second Secretary on Human Rights for Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the UN.

In her early childhood, Saima was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic disorder of the eyes that causes the loss of vision. As the disease was incurable, she started losing her sight gradually. When Saima turned 13, she lost her vision completely.

Amna Baig

Hailing from Hunza, Amna Baig graduated from NUST’s Business School in Economics in 2013. She cleared CSS exams in 2015 and got allocated to the Police Service of Pakistan (PSP).

Amna is currently serving as an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police where she heads the Gender Protection Unit, an initiative to facilitate women in their fight against injustices.

Last year, US Embassy in Islamabad had nominated Amna Baig for the International Women of Courage award in recognition of her efforts for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women empowerment.

Malala Yousafzai

Born on 12 July 1997 in Mingora, Swat, Malala Yousafzai became the face of resistance against the Taliban in her early childhood. At 10, Malala was deprived of her right to education when her hometown fell to the Taliban who destroyed hundreds of schools and colleges for girls. In 2009, Malala started blogging anonymously on BBC Urdu under the name “Gul Makai.”

On 9 October 2012, the Taliban shot and seriously injured Malala when she was going home from school. She was airlifted to Peshawar the same day and four days later to Birmingham. Malala went through multiple surgeries, including the repair of a facial nerve to fix the paralyzed left side of her face.

Two years later in 2014, Malala Yousafzai was named as Nobel Peace Prize winner at just 17 years of age, becoming the youngest person to receive the prestigious award.

Maryam Nasim

Maryam Nasim is a weightlifter who hails from Peshawar. Maryam moved to Australia to study when she first started weightlifting. In just two years after getting into weightlifting, she won a silver medal in the 57-kg category in the Avia Powerlifting competition. Maryam clinched a bronze medal in the same competition in the 63-kg category a year later.

Maryam has been living in Australia for over a decade but her heart is in Pakistan as she aims to represent Pakistan on the international stage in the coming years.

Ayesha Farooq

Ayesha Farooq is the first Pakistani woman who joined the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) as a fighter pilot in 2013, motivating thousands of other girls to pursue their dream of flying the fighter jets.

Ayesha was born on 24 August 1987 in Hasilpur, District Bahawalpur. She outperformed her male colleagues in the final exams of the PAF’s fighter pilot program and topped the batch.

Ayesha is posted in Squadron 20 of the PAF. She flies missions in the Chinese-made Chengdu J-7 fighter jet. Of all the fighter pilots currently serving in the PAF, Ayesha Farooq remains the only qualified for combat and to fly sorties along the border.

Samia Rehman

Major Samia Rehman belongs to Pakistan Army. She has served as an Operational Planning Officer in the Democratic Republic of Congo under the UN Peacekeeping Mission.

When Major Samia was deployed in Peacekeeping Mission, she left her two-year-old son behind to protect and help the Congolese children striving for a better future.

In recognition of her untiring services, Major Samia was awarded the United Nations Special Representative for Secretary-General (SRSG) Certificate of the Year in 2019.

Samia Rehman has also featured in the hit drama serial Sinf-e-Aahan as Major Samia.

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