Know Asma Jahangir: UN Human Rights Prize Winner 2018

Asma Jahangir human rights

The late Asma Jahangir, lawyer and human rights activist, was announced as one of the four winners of the 2018 United Nations Human Rights Prize on Friday.

Brazil’s first indigenous lawyer Joenia Wapixana, Tanzanian activist Rebeca Gyumi, and Ireland’s human rights organisation Front Line Defenders are the other three recipients of the honour.

President of the UN General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces made the announcement through her official Twitter account. “Today I announced the 2018 winners of the UN Human Rights Prize,” the statement said before naming Jahangir and three other recipients, adding: “Your work is an inspiration to us.” 

Who is Asma Jahangir?

  • Born on January 27, 1952, in Lahore, she pursued her B.A. from Kinnaird and LLB from Punjab University.
  • She practised as a lawyer in the High Court and Supreme Court respectively.
  • Jahangir became a democratic activist in the 1980s. She was imprisoned in 1983 for participating in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy. The movement was largely against the military regime of Zia-ul-Haq.
  • Jahangir, who was known for speaking her mind, was also famous for her unrelenting pursuit for human rights. She is remembered for her undaunted service towards building a democratic and more inclusive Pakistan.

In 1980, Jahangir and her sister, Hina Jilani, teamed up with fellow activists and lawyers to form the first law firm established by women in Pakistan

  • Again, in the same year, they formed the Women’s Action Forum (WAF), a pressure group campaigning against Pakistan’s discriminatory legislation. They campaigned against the Proposed Law of Evidence. The law reduced the value of a woman’s testimony to half of a man’s testimony.
  • The forum fought against Hudood Ordinances. As per these ordinances, survivors of rape had to either prove their innocence or face punishment themselves.
  • Jahangir suffered a stroke and later died of brain hemorrhage on February 11, 2018.

With this prize, Jahangir has become the fourth Pakistani woman to be awarded the UN Human Rights Prize. Earlier, Begum Ra’Ana Liaquat Ali Khan, Benazir Bhutto and Malala Yousafzai have been honoured with the same.

Featured image credit: The Express Tribune

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