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KARACHI DIARIES: 6th LADIESFUND® Women's Awards 2014

First Published in Economic Affairs (Apr 2014) P-36

They conquered Everest in their spare time & crafted empires; their names were featured in Forbes ‘30 under 30’. Somewhere along the way they had reset the bar. Their contributions had not gone un-noticed.

The people who had made the list included trailblazers, trendsetters, risk-takers & crusaders, seen at the 6th LADIESFUND® Annual Women’s Awards. An event to salute an unlikely band of heroes who left a legacy of courage & compassion also acknowledged exceptional women on the rise.

LADIESFUND® launched by Dawood Global Foundation (2007) & headed by Tara Uzra Dawood, celebrates these achievements by adding powerhouse women and their noble causes to their wall of fame. It also makes its core mission - Educate 1000 Girls, the lynchpin & encourages the entrepreneur within our ranks. The talented Alycia Dias, who performed the anthem & walked away with a musical scholarship, would be joined by other hopefuls, awarded with fellowships, grants or monetary support to kick-start their fledgling careers.

The ceremony, held at Mohatta Palace (Karachi) home of Fatima Jinnah, opened with an Indonesian Cultural Welcome Dance, but its glitzy tapestry would be inlaid with sombre undertones. Women, who make empowerment as a motif, do so at great personal risk. The ‘Khushhalibank Idol Award’ awarded to those who had fallen in the line of duty like the families of brave polio workers (Anita Zafar Jumani & Akbari Juman). There were sympathetic sponsors on hand to take care of the special needs children they left behind.

The audience would catch brief glimpses of Pakistan’s impressive philanthropy record and its largest orphanage – SOS Children’s Village which has 2000 projects in 133 countries. Outside Europe it is reportedly the largest self financing charity.

The (late) Parveen Rahmen, director OPP (Orangi Pilot Project) the biggest poverty alleviation scheme worldwide that helps 3 million people and serves as a model project would be posthumously awarded the ‘Courage Award’ along with (late) Zahra Shahid Hussain (PTI). While their struggles underscore the volatile landscape & successes often get eclipsed by tragic headlines, these are the voices capable of overriding the prevalent narrative of despair.

There were a few brave men on hand – including Faisal Qureshi (PTV host - Perspectives) who had graciously agreed to host (but had to leave midway), & British / Indonesian Council Generals who acted as presenters.

People’s Choice Award (2014) Woman of the Year (mountaineer Samina Khayal Baig), Trailblazer Award (Khalida Brohi - founder Sughar program that empowers village women & honor killings), Momentum Award (Angie Marshall (award winning makeup artist who styled 3rd runner up Miss Universe 2011).


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