As part of International Women’s Day celebration, Karachi recently witnessed the 
celebration of iconic women at HUM Women Leaders Award 2020, an initiative to recognise and honour the contribution and achievements of women from Pakistan and around the world, writes Muhammad Asad Ullah

In 2020, the wage gap may still exist between men and women — and even more so between different racial groups — but with internationally recognised movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up maintaining momentum and more women involved in careers defining change than ever before, women are also more powerful than ever. 
A FEMALE CULTURE runs far and wide across the landscape of every field in the 21st-century today. It’s there at the top of the mountains, in major media houses, it pervades the uprising of fledgling, self-made independents and generations of established entrepreneurs, a multifaceted critical mass of women steadily working to change the perception of the country and represent their heritage for the better and projecting strength of patience and justice. What’s remarkable is the way they still talk about feelings, their swift ability to understand the time we live in, and their quiet but steady turning of the world toward the overthrow of bad and old institutional behaviours.
For a long time, women were taught to ‘act like men’ to get ahead at any work or business for that matter. They put on shoulder pads and masculine suits, played by the rules, and acted out qualities that seemed to make for successful leaders like authority, firmness and not being ‘too accessible.’ But it won’t be erroneous to say that a new breed of women leaders like Sultana Siddiqui, CEO of HUM Network, herself is upending those old rules, embracing traits like empathy and collaboration to get things done, and refusing to suppress the qualities that make them who they are. Some may call these ‘feminine’ qualities, but others prefer to call them the traits of well-rounded leaders.
As part of International Women’s Day celebration just around the corner, Karachi recently witnessed the celebration of iconic women at HUM Women Leaders Award 2020, an initiative to recognise and honour the contribution and achievements of women from Pakistan and around the world who are change makers in their respective fields and a symbol and source of hope, courage, determination and inspiration for women across the globe. 
Dr Arif Alvi, President of Pakistan, along with Samina Alvi, First Lady of Pakistan; Paul W Jones, Ambassador of US to Pakistan; Imran Ismail, Governor Sindh, attended the awards to pay homage to the powerful women inspiring everyday.
With the spot-on script, and hosted by Mira Sethi and Sanam Saeed the evening was a wonderful mesh of many elements. 
Speaking on the occasion, the President, said, “We may have done much for women, but not as much as we should have done. When I used to be student there used to be a one-fourth quota for female students during admissions while three-fourth of the students were male. But the Supreme Court put an end to the quota system during the 1980s and now we see 80 percent or even more female students in our universities and professional colleges. And yet there are not as many women seen in professions as are passing out of the educational institutions because society expects to see the woman in the role of a mother or homemaker. So we don’t see this cream of our society in the pillars of our society.” 
He added, “If women wish to work after marriage institutions should create part-time jobs for them and open day-care centres for their children in order to facilitate them. Media also had a responsibility in showing women in positive roles instead of stereotyping them.”
The awards also remembered the Pakistani women legends and leaders of the past, including Fatima Jinnah, one of the leading founders of Pakistan; Benazir Bhutto, first female Prime Minister of Pakistan; Fatima Surayya Bajia, Urdu novelist, playwright and drama writer; Bano Qudsia, Pakistani novelist; Professor Anita Ghulam Ali, educational expert in Sindh, Pakistan; Dr Ruth Pfau, German-Pakistani physician who moved from Germany to Pakistan in 1961 and devoted more than 55 years of her life to fighting leprosy in Pakistan; Asma Jahangir, Pakistani HUMan rights lawyer; Madam Noor Jahan, Pakistani playback singer and actress; and Arfa Karim, the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional.
Then one by one, the pictures and stories of the awardees were flashed on the screen.
The only man awardee of the night was Omar Aftab, a globally recognised campaign strategist for women’s and child health, economic and social development and his work for social justice and HUMan rights and campaigns such as the Pink Ribbon and White Ribbon.
HUM Women Leader Awards 2020 did not disappoint with the glamour and the sizzling power packed performances. And of course with the attendance of Pakistan’s A List showbiz celebrities, models and actors, after all it’s HUM and it knows how to pull off a show full of glamour bringing everyone under one roof, including Mahira Khan, Hina Bayat, Sania Saeed, Zeba Bakhtiar, Javed Sheikh, designer Bunto Kazmi, beautician Musarrat Misbah, and Fouzia Aman among others. It was a night of racy performances – some of them a lot of fun, like Hania Amir’s rise to dance with an ensemble and Sajjad Ali along with his daughter Zaw Ali spreading their vocals together for the first time. Hadiqa Kiani’s conquest of the stage was also a lot of fun; she always knows what she’s doing and does it well — takes you on a journey of her own with that husky voice.

Related Story