100 Pakistani women who matter
LAHORE – Newsweek Pakistan has published a list of 100 Pakistani women who matter in different fields and also carried brief interviews with some of them.
President Zardari’s sister Faryal Talpur, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, BISP Chairperson Farzana Raja, Pakistan’s Ambassador to US Sherry Rehman, and acting Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi have been mentioned as the “most powerful in government”.
According to the weekly, Faryal Talpur has been quietly rebuilding the PPP.
About Hina Rabbani it says she knows how to work any room. Sherry Rehman has been praised as Pakistan’s most important and ablest ambassador. Nargis Sethi, the weekly says, is the country’s most influential bureaucrat.
PML-N President Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif has been described as a rising star and the new life of the party.
Similarly, President Zardari’s daughter Aseefa Bhutto Zardari and Khalida Brohi, the 23-year-old who launched Sughar – an NGO striving to end honour killings, child marriages and other medieval customs in her native Balochistan – have also been included in this category.
The late Mir Murtaza Bhutto and Ghinwa Bhutto’s daughter Fatima Bhutto has been categorised as a poet, write, and activist of unparalleled passion.
The weekly has also identified some women who its thinks should govern. They include: Begum Nafis Sadik, the former under-secretary-general of the UN who became the first woman to head the United Nations Population Fund in 1987. She is currently a special adviser to the current secretary-general of the world body.
The first woman to head the State Bank of Pakistan, Dr Akhtar was included in The Wall Street Journal’s list of 10 Women to Watch in Asia, in 2008. Most recently, she was the World Bank’s vice-president for the Middle East and North Africa.
After representing Pakistan in the US and the UK, Lodhi returned to her roots in journalism as a special adviser to a media group. Last year, she edited Pakistan: Beyond the Crisis State, a book of essays from top names like Ayesha Jalal.
Nawa-i-Waqt Group’s Deputy Managing Director Rameeza Majid Nizami has been mentioned among prominent media persons. In an interview with the weekly, she said she was in journalism because of an accident of birth.
“This wasn’t something I wanted to do since school. I had wanted to be a physicist or work at NASA. But I started going to the office after I got back to Lahore from college and I’ve been doing it every day for the last five years. So this wasn’t exactly my career choice, but I’m very happy working with my father, Majid Nizami, who is also my boss at Nawa-i-Waqt Group.”
About the future of journalism, she said: “Don’t assume that just because there are so many newspapers, magazines, and TV channels that it’s all necessarily a comfortable business. There is no way you can run media on a strict business model because the market is far too volatile.
And the expectation from the public is huge. They’ve got a lot of choice now and they expect a good product – and that’s not cheap to come by”.
Asked if it is hard being a woman journalist, Rameeza said: “To be very honest, I’m in an extremely privileged position.”
Answering another question, she said: “One of the important things for women to do is to properly enunciate an argument, not to break down. Don’t sob. Be able to say why you are upset. You have to communicate, argue, and convince. That’s the only way things will turn around.” Questioned if we are getting the news services we deserve, she said: “We don’t just do what we feel like. We respond to what our viewers or what our readers want. I can produce the most sophisticated, beautiful TV programme where no one’s voice goes over two decibels and just see the ratings for that. Once audience tastes are more developed and they start asking for something better, TV will respond. Everyone says they’re sick of these boisterous talk shows, but if you look at the numbers the story is quite the opposite.”
She thinks that the government to be formed after the next elections will be a coalition.
The Newsweek rates Sharmeen Obaid–Chinoy, Mallala Yousafzai, Shahzadi Gulfam and Zehra Ali as trailblazers.
Asma Jehangir, Farahanaz Ispahani, Amina Janjua, Bushra Gohar and Marvi Sirmed have been called ‘bold voices’. Mukhtar Mai, Laila Nusrat, Nilofer Saeed, Sarah Belal and Musarrat Misbah have been included in Social Workers Roundtable section.
The weekly also interviewed some women who it regards as top entrepreneurs. They are: Roshaneh Zafar (the daughter of PML-Q leader SM Zafar), Ambarine Bukharey, Sajida Zulfikar Khan, Nasreen Kasuri and Zeenat Saeed Ahmed.