Asma Jilani Jahangir: Why she kicks ass
- She is a leading Pakistani lawyer, advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, President Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan and human rights activist, who works both in Pakistan and internationally to prevent the persecution of religious minorities, women, and exploitation of children.
- She was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief from August 2004 to July 2010 (first attached to the former Commission on Human Rights, now to the Human Rights Council). Previously, she served as the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary and Summary Executions.
- She is a founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and has served as Secretary-General and later Chairperson of the organization.
- Jahangir and her sister, joined with fellow activists and lawyers to form the first law firm established by women in Pakistan.
- In the same year they also helped form the Women’s Action Forum (WAF); a pressure group campaigning against Pakistan’s discriminatory legislation, most notably against the Proposed Law of Evidence, where the value of a woman’s testimony was reduced to half that of a man’s testimony, and the Hadood Ordinances, where victims of rape had to prove their innocence or else face punishment themselves.
- On February 12, 1983, the Punjab Women Lawyers Association in Lahore organised a public protest (one of its leaders was Jahangir) against the Proposed Law of Evidence, during which Jahangir and other participating WAF members were beaten, teargassed, and arrested by police.
- In 1982 Jahangir earned the nickname “little heroine” after leading a protest march in Islamabad against a decision by then-president Zia ul Haq to enforce religious laws and stated: “Family laws [which are religious laws] give women few rights” and that “They have to be reformed because Pakistan cannot live in isolation. We cannot remain shackled while other women progress.”
- In 1986 Jahangir and Hina set up AGHS Legal Aid, the first free legal aid centre in Pakistan. The AGHS Legal Aid Cell in Lahore also runs a shelter for women, called ‘Dastak’.
- She won the Supreme Court Bar Association election by defeating her competitor Ahmed Awais and securing 834 of total votes and became the first ever women President of SCBA in the history of Pakistan.
She has recived; the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders as well as the Ramon Magsaysay Award for “greatness of spirit shown in service of the people”, the Millennium prize, by UNIFEM (the United Nations Development Fund for Women) in collaboration with the non-governmental organisation International Alert, the Freedom of Worship Medal for her human rights and religious freedom activism in a ceremony held in the Nieuwe Kerk in Holland, the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, the second highest civilian award of Pakistan and the 2010 UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights, recognizing her efforts as a human rights defender. (via womenwhokickass)