woman PM, Speaker, Foreign Minister; 33% reserved quota for women in Parliament.
“Pakistan is on the move, and wants to show the world the positivity that is generating there. Pakistan has moderate, enlightened, inclusive society; our diaspora in the UK is vibrant, and contributing a lot to British society.” The high commissioner dubbed the Congress as one of the most successful events to highlight achievements of women and hoped it would become a sustainable tradition.
Co-Chairman WCOP Syed Qamar Raza said, “We are here to dispel myths and shatter the stereotypes about Pakistani Diaspora. Pakistan produced the first ever woman Prime Minister of the Muslim World in 1980s. Today, we are sitting, working, getting along, and supporting each other, equal in dignity an opportunity in making the UK and this world a better place.”
Dr Suhail Chughtai President WCOP-UK said, “This Congress becomes a stepping stone. First of so many to come to recognise and acknowledge those who are the champions and to inspire those who are sitting on the fence to take the leap of possibilities. Let’s have more achievers for the UK among the British Pakistanis, more members of Parliament, more doctors in NHS, lawyers in the British courts, finance experts in Canary Wharf, academics in the British universities , athletes in Olympics, and we pledge to play our part, extend our hand, do our bid to make it possible.”
Arif Anis Malik, Executive Director World Congress of Overseas Pakistanis while opening the Women Achievers Congress said, “The great challenge of this conference is to give voice to women whose experiences go unnoticed. Our goals for this congress are to strengthen families and societies by strengthening women to take greater control over their own destinies, make better choices and make greater difference for themselves and their families and their communities.” While introducing the home secretary, he shared an interesting fact that late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto played as a matchmaker in Theresa May’s marriage with Philip John May due to their Oxford University connections. “Pakistan deserves some credit for setting up this happy marriage,” he quipped on a lighter note.
Speakers at the conference included Nigham Shahid, renowned Sociologist, Vanessa O’Brien, Guinness Book of World Record holder climber, Suniya Qureshi, Judith Diment, Tasmina Sheikh MP, Dr Aliya Ahmed, medical consultant & NHS professional, Mahnaz Malik, author & legal professional, Salma Bi, British-Asian sports award winner & first female Pakistani county cricketer, Zanab Farooq, the youngest British Pakistani commercial pilot, Almeena Ahmed-Ashraf, freelance journalist, Ahlya Fateh, Adeeba Malik CBE, Saira Awan Malik, founder of the British Pakistan Foundation Women’s Network, Cynthia Ritchie, Goodwill Ambassador to Pakistan & producer of the documentary ‘Emerging Face of Pakistan’.
Senior parliamentarian Khalid Mahmood MP from Birmingham attended the Congress and appreciated the initiative. Naz Shah MP from Bradford also spoke at the Congress and assured her support for such endeavours in the future.
Over 500 delegates attended the conference and heard speeches on. The conference was described by the attendees as a great success and a milestone in the right direction. Speaking to The News, the participants said that the organsiers had taken an important initiative by organising a conference of this nature which is aimed at encouraging more Pakistani women into politics and to bring them together for greater interaction.