A Tribute To Alys Faiz
The topography of women’s empowerment in Pakistan is a treacherous terrain, harsh on the eyes. It is often marked by subjugation, lack of education and basic literacy, utter neglect of health; for instance, Pakistan has among the highest occurrence of preventive complications leading to steep maternal mortality rates in the world, and downright flogging in honor-based regions. Traveling this road, names like Fatima Jinnah, Shaista Ikramullah, Jahanara Shahnawaz, Tassadaque Hussain, Sughra Begum, Nusrat Khanum, Mumtaz Shahnawaz and Fatima Begum stand out like a desert rose that builds its beauty because of and not despite of the sharp winds and extreme temperatures of cultural oppression. These women were active political leaders, they brought down the Union Jack and hosted the Pakistani flag during the independence movement, got rounded up in jails, they worked relentlessly for women’s rights and literacy and were a big part of the agitations that brought military governments down. Indigenous movements led by them left a mark on History, though in the history written by men, they are mere footnotes. A far more indelible one is left by someone who was once part of the retreating colonial British government pre-independence.