AddaProfile: Asma Jahangir

Our #AddaHumanRightsProfile for this week is Asma Jahangir, Pakistani human rights advocate and lawyer.

Born in 1952 in Karachi, Jahangir has led a renowned career both in Pakistan and on the world stage. She grew up in a politically active household, with both of her parents fighting against oppressive political and societal structures in Pakistan. Her father made himself persona non grata with the dictatorial regime of the time with his outspoken views, and was imprisoned on a number of occasions, while her mother fought against the traditionally restrictive roles of women.

Jahangir received her degree in law in 1978. Two years later she cofounded with two partners the first all-female law firm in Pakistan. She used her position to advocate for women’s rights, helping to form the Women’s Action Forum to agitate against discriminatory laws, in particular the Hadood Ordinances, whereby women who were raped were liable to be prosecuted for adultery. In 1986 she helped to found the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and served as its secretary general. She has also held a number of positions with the UN, promoting justice and equality on the world stage.

Jahangir was awarded the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 1995, recognising her work promoting and defending women’s rights in Pakistan. In 2014 she was awarded, along with Edward Snowden, the Right Livelihood Award. She continues to work promoting human rights both in Pakistan and abroad, remaining a leading figure in the fight for women’s rights and equality.