Karachi : To honour a selection of iconic women in Pakistan and beyond for their significant contributions to the socio-economic development of the country, HUM Network inaugurated Women Leaders Awards this week in Karachi; the first edition of the awards took place at the Governor House, with many dignitaries in attendance. The platform celebrated the success of women who stand out because of their resilience and potential to push the envelope, paving way for more females to follow suit.
A beautiful hallway welcomed guests after they made peace with the fact that they cannot carry any of their belongings (including their cell phones) inside the venue. One spotted Hania Aamir, Zeba Bakhtiar and Ali Rehman Khan at the entrance, as well as Mahira Khan in a bright, red sari as she graced the Red Carpet.
The Red Carpet was lit as celebrities got their pictures clicked and spoke to the press before heading to the garden where the main event was taking place. Round banquet tables were spread out in front of a bright, vast stage as soon as one crossed the Red Carpet area. The show commenced 45 minutes later than the scheduled time, which wasn’t bad, given that everything that followed was in place – hosting, distribution of awards, performances and the speeches.
Sultana Siddiqui, President HUM Network Limited, opened the ceremony, thanking honourable guests and attendees for showing up. “The reason for this event is to recognize contributions made by women in society the world over, celebrate their stories, share the lessons they learned after crossing each milestone, and most importantly, inspire the younger generation to go beyond these milestones,” she shared the idea behind the first Women Leaders Awards.
President Dr. Arif Alvi graced the event along with his wife; he emphasized on encouraging women to work and empowering them financially, among other things, during his speech.
He addressed, “Women who will be awarded today and those I see here have worked really hard to be where they are; they must have worked twice as much as men to reach at this point. We need to change the mindset of our society. If a woman wants to continue working after marriage, institutions should make room for part-time employment as well as caretakers so that mothers can bring their kids along.”
Other dignitaries present on the occasion included HE Paul W Jones, the US Ambassador to Pakistan, honourable Consul Generals and Governor Sindh Imran Ismail, in addition to prominent figures from the entertainment industry. The list included Sania Saeed, Savera Nadeem, Hina Bayat, Jawed Sheikh, Asma Nabeel, Huma Adnan, Amir Adnan, Wardha Saleem and Fouzia Aman, among others.
Mira Sethi, in an embellished Wardha Saleem sari, hosted the ceremony, where she was later joined by Sanam Saeed. Sethi was very articulate; her speech resonated well with those in attendance.
Moving on to achievers, the real heroes of the night, Hum Women Leaders Awards 2020 lauded 11 women including Samina Baig, Pakistan’s first female mountaineer; Jalila Haider, the first female attorney of Hazara community; Barrister Khadija Siddiqi (who was stabbed 23 times); Narges Abyar, acclaimed Iranian film director; Dr Fouzia Saeed; Bushra Ansari; Mary Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland; Dr Seemin Jamali; Zubeida Mustafa, acclaimed investigative journalist; Dr Shamshad Akhtar, first woman in Pakistan’s history to serve as Governor State Bank and Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s former Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN.
The only gentleman awarded that evening was Omar Aftab, a globally recognized campaign strategist for women and children’s health, economic and social development and his work for social justice and human rights.
Three soulful performances in-between the proceedings provided gentle entertainment and prevented the evening from becoming a dry affair. The first performance featured Sajjad Ali and his daughter Zaw Ali – a combination the audience thoroughly enjoyed – followed by a very well-choreographed dance performance by Hania Aamir. The ceremony closed with a live performance by Hadiqa Kiyani, who left the audience in awe.