A woman of substance — a tribute to Zuhra Karim
KARACHI: Zuhra Karim, one of Pakistan’s pioneering women journalists founded She magazine in 1963 and edited it thereafter for decades till ill health obliged her to withdraw.
She was also a dedicated co-founder of SOS Children’s Villages of Sindh which provides care for children without parents or homes.
This writer was privileged to be associated with Zuhra Karim in both these fields and to directly witness her exceptional qualities of character and commitment to public service. In 1966-67, during a phase between completing my university education and entry into the advertising sector, Zuhra invited me to serve as assistant editor of She magazine. This proved to be a brief yet memorable experience. Zuhra was blunt in speech and bold in print, sometimes stern in tone but actually kind-hearted at the core, impatient with pretension and refreshingly candid. In virtually every issue of the journal under her able editorship, She magazine challenged conventional stereotypes of Pakistani women, condemned discriminatory practices, proposed progressive laws, policies and actions. While also presenting charming images of women’s fashion styles and feminine interests — to produce an irresistible combination! Even after one’s departure from the staff, Zuhra tolerantly hosted one’s columns and articles in the 1970s. Over the past 50 years, She magazine continues to make a notable contribution to journalism.
In 1982-83, Zuhra Karim, along with Durriya Mazari, Yacoob Zamindar and others graciously invited one to also become a co-founder of SOS Children’s Villages of Sindh. Then, for well over 20 years, Zuhra Karim devoted sustained voluntary efforts to the development of the first SOS Village in Sindh at Malir, Karachi and to its early evolution and operation. Hundreds of little girls and boys, now well-educated, well-skilled and well-settled in adult life owe many thanks to Zuhra for how zealously she helped advance their basic rights.
Epitomising cosmopolitan views and progressive values, Zuhra Karim was a warm, affectionate human being with an inimitable personality passionately devoted to Pakistan’s development. Though her journal fortunately lives on, she will be deeply missed.