“Naya Pakistan will be incomplete without the inclusion of women,” said President Dr Arif Alvi as he concluded his speech at the second edition of HUM Women Leaders Awards (HWLA) which took place on March 9, 2021, at the President House in Islamabad.

The HWLA, which “aims to recognise and honour the contributions and achievements of iconic women from Pakistan and around the world”, celebrated eleven national and international women icons and one man for their contributions and achievements in the fields of diplomacy, social work, education, healthcare, human rights, journalism and women’s rights.

“The aim of these awards is to encourage women to think big,” said the network in a statement, adding: “[These women] are change-makers in their respective fields and a symbol and source of hope, courage, determination and inspiration for women across the globe. These iconic women are mentors and role models for girls who aspire to be achievers.”


Among those honoured that night included Ayesha Chundrigar, Lt General Nigar Johar, Ayesha Jalal, Hina Jilani, Shahzadi Gulfam and Malala Yousafzai. All winners received special hand-crafted trophies, designed by Amin Gulgee.

The night was a well-organised and starry affair with many senior actors including Bushra Ansari, Zeba Bakhtiyar, Vaneeza Ahmed and Naumaan Ijaz, in attendance. Hareem Farooq and Sanam Saeed were the hosts for the night while Strings, Umair Jaswal and Quratulain Baloch entertained the audiences with their music and mesmerizing performances.

Speaking at the event, President of the Hum TV Network Sultana Siddiqui said: “It has been my lifelong struggle to see that women are given their due importance in all fields. There should be no glass ceilings, no chains of traditions and customs to stop their flight. In today’s economy, it is imperative that women be given an equal chance to prosper. We cannot have a progressive economy with women shut indoors.”

President Alvi, in his speech, also emphasized on the importance of empowering women and giving them their due right. He asserted that the mission of Naya Pakistan will be incomplete without the inclusion of women and encouraged organisations to achieve a gender balance in the workplace. The President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan said that women’s entry into the workforce must be made easier and that men must play their role in empowering and facilitating women.

Meanwhile, meet the winners of the HWLA below:

Ayesha Chundrigar

Ayesha was honoured and recognised for setting up the first and largest animal rescue organisation in Pakistan – the ACF Animal Rescue. The rescue service has rescued and rehabilitated more than 7,000 animals so far, paving the way for animal rights to become a norm in society.

Shahzadi Gulfam

Shahzadi Gulfam is the first Pakistani woman police officer to receive the International Female Police Peacekeeper Award by the United Nations in 2011. In a career spanning over three decades, Gulfam has made her country proud, both nationally and internationally. She was also the first Pakistani female officer to be deployed in the UN Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Tabassum Adnan

Tabassum Adnan the first woman in Pakhtun history to have founded an all-women jirga, Khwendo Jirga, which means Sisters’ Council, a milestone for the women of Swat. She was the first to be invited to the District Resolution Council paving the path for local women to participate in the decision-making process. In 2016, Tabassum received the Nelson Mandela – Graça Machel Innovation Award in the Individual Activist Category.

Abida Parveen

The undisputed queen of Sufi Music, Abida Parveen is among the 500 Most Influential Muslim Artists in the world. Besides, receiving a plethora of accolades internationally and nationally, Abida Parveen is also the recipient of eight Pride of Performance Awards, the Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Pakistan’s highest civilian honour, the Hilal-e-Imtiaz.

While receiving her award, Abida also recited a kalam, enthralling audiences were her magical voice.

Lt General Nigar Johar

Lt General Nigar Johar is the first-ever female three-star general in the history of Pakistan and the first female Surgeon General of the Pakistan Army. Hailing from Panjpeer Village, in Swabi District, Lt Gen Nigar was also the first female Commandant of any armed forces unit and the first female to have commanded the largest hospital of the Pakistan Army. An expert markswoman, she is the recipient of the Fatima Jinnah Gold medal, Tamgha e Imtiaz and Hilal e Imtiaz along with an honorary membership at the Royal College of Physicians (UK).

Malala Yousafzai

International icon for education and the world’s youngest Nobel laureate, Malala Yousafzai received an award for her unrelenting efforts to see that every girl completes 12 years of education.

Speaking at the event via video message, Malala said: “I dedicate this award to all the young girls who wish for a bright future, who have a desire to learn and get an education. The pandemic has amplified the education crisis in Pakistan, even more so for girls who continue to pay the highest price. With Malala Fund and our new projects, it is our mission to prioritise the education of girls with an even greater emphasis during this pandemic, so they can continue to learn during [the pandemic] without hindrance.”

“I hope for a day in Pakistan when every girl is able to go to school, get an education, be able to fulfil her dreams and lead without fear,” she added.

Ayesha Jalal

An insightful historian and educationist, Ayesha Jalal has published and written countless books and research articles that provide a unique insight into the culture and history of the subcontinent.

Masarrat Misbah

Cosmetologist and philanthropist Masarrat Misbah was honoured for her work with acid victims. In 2003, Misbah conceptualized the Depilex Smile Again Foundation to rehabilitate and support acid burn victims. Her organization helped many victims receive the best available medical treatment and psycho-social support.

Malik Rafique Awan

The only man awardee of the night, Malik Rafique Awan, has set a precedent for all fathers – all of his five daughters have passed the Civil Superior Service (CSS) exams and are serving their country with the zeal and passion they inherited from their father.

Speaking at the event, an emotional Awan said that on the birth of his fifth daughter, he and his wife Khursheed Begum were ridiculed for not having any sons and that is when he decided to empower all his daughters by giving them worthy education and raising them as strong individuals. He encouraged all men to educate their daughters and raise them as strong and independent individuals.

“I request all fathers to give their daughters degrees instead of jahez,” said Awan, who received the trophy from two of his daughters.

Awan’s eldest daughter, Laila Malik Sher is Deputy Commissioner Income Tax Department in Karachi. His second daughter Shirin Malik Sher is serving as Director at the National Highway Authority Islamabad while the third one Sassi Malik Sher is Deputy Executive, CEO Chaklala Cantt, Rawalpindi. Awan’s fourth daughter Marvi Malik Sher has been appointed as the Additional Assistant Commissioner Abbottabad and his youngest daughter Zoha Malik Sher has just joined the Officers Management Group.

Hina Jilani

Hina Jilani was honoured for her fight for human rights in the country.

International recipients of the HWLA included Princess Sarvath Al Hassan of Jordan and Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces from Ecuador.

Princess Sarvath Al Hassan

Princess Sarvath is the first leader to establish a nonprofit education programme that offered equal opportunities to every student in Jordan, presided over the Young Muslim Women’s Association and pioneered several initiatives such as establishing the Bunayat Center for Special Education in 1974. Princess Sarvath also served as the Honourary Vice President of the Jordanian Red Crescent from 1994- 2004.

Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces

A successful diplomat, profound academic and seasoned politician, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces has set an example of woman empowerment with her illustrious career and fight for women inclusion in politics. She has headed various ministries such as Foreign Affairs, Defense and Culture and Heritage in Ecuador. Espinosa was also the first female ambassador of Ecuador to the United Nations in New York and Geneva and the fourth woman in history to serve as the president of the United National General Assembly.

Speaking at the event via video, Maria encouraged women participation in politics, asserting that countries will not succeed until women are represented properly in the governments.

The Hum Women Leaders Awards will be televised on Pakistan Day on Hum TV.