Creative fields have seen the birth of many firsts and Pakistani Arts and Culture is no exception – but this time, the spotlight is on 5 women!
No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah
They say that a woman can multi task better than a man – that’s just how they’re ‘wired’. Well, you know what, the phrase stands true for these 5 women who excel at more than one thing in life. On this Women’s Day we pay tribute to 5 women who have lived unconventional lives and more than thrived on it – making their mark & turning heads in the creative arena!
1. Salima Hashmi – When Art Wasn’t Enough
“Please take back the message from Pakistan to friends everywhere that we live a life which is a hard life, but it is still full of hope and we are maybe not the people you see painted and dehumanized every day in the media. We’re really okay and we have fun and make nice paintings, and we sing wonderful songs, and we make poetry… In the worst of times in Pakistan, there is always a joke, dark humor and irony… We all have feet of clay. And the emperor never has any clothes on.”
Salima Hashmi as quoted in Radio One
Salima Hashmi is a well renowned Pakistani artist, a comedian and so much more than that – she is also an anti-nuclear weapons activist, former caretaker minister in Sethi caretaker ministry, and also a former college professor. She is the daughter of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, who was a communist Pakistani writer, and her mother, Alys Faiz was a journalist and also a peace activist in Pakistan.
Salima has promoted Arts and Culture by exhibiting her work as a Pakistani artist on international platforms. She has organized several international art shows in England, Europe, United States, Australia, Japan and India. Besides that, she co-founded an art gallery which featured works of young artists, by the name, Lahore’s Rohtas 2 Gallery. Furthermore, Salima was a lecturer at the NCA (National College of Arts in Lahore) for 31 years and then served as a Principal there for four years.
In 1999, Salima received the Pride of Performance Award for her services to the nation. We as a nation are proud of women like her who inspire us to reach heights of success while giving back to the society as well.
2. Sahira Kazmi – Talent In The 1970s & Beyond
Sahira Kazmi is a Pakistani actress, director and producer. She was born in Bombay to Shyam and Mumtaz Qureshi who were both noteworthy film industry figures in British India.
She launched her career in the 1970s and debuted in a play, Qurbatein aur Faslay. Sahira, later acted in the series Teesra Kinara and Parchaiyan and received massive recognition for her performances in these projects. Later, she realized her passion for direction and made her directorial debut with the series Hawa Ke Naam. Her plays almost always focused on bringing social issues to the forefront, esp. women’s rights. She delivered many classic hits such as Tappish, Dhoop Kinaray, Aahat, and Nijaat. Dhoop Kinaray is perhaps, amongst the most noteworthy. In 2019, the show was translated into Arabic, to be screened in Saudi Arabia.
With such such a close connection to the Arts and Culture, it was but inevitable that she married her co actor, Rahat Kazmi in the late 1970s and has two children with him. She is a perfect example of a dignified woman who discovered her talent and worked hard to realize her true potential!
3. Nadia Jamil – Stand Up & Speak Up To be The Change
Nadia Jamil is an acclaimed Pakistani actress. She was born in London but was raised in Lahore. She did her schooling from Convent of Jesus and Mary, Lahore. She holds a Masters Degree in English literature. She also holds a Bachelor’s in Drama and Creative Writing from Hampshire College, USA. She also studied from Allegheny College. She completed her International Fellowship at the Globe Theatre, London. She was a TV host for two decades and appeared in several Pakistani television dramas such as Damsa, Mujhay Jeenay Do, Meray Paas Paas.
Nadia Jamil has been appointed goodwill ambassador for the Punjab Child Protection and Welfare Bureau. She shared the same in a post:
Nadia has four sons, two of whom are adopted. Sabir used to work at a brick kiln and is now studying to become an engineer for the army, while Azaad came to her at the age of seven as an abandoned street child. (Source: Samaa TV)
Nadia has shared her story of being molested as a child. She uses her voice to raise awareness about this critical issue and to encourage others to speak up about it. She also fought breast cancer in 2020. She remains optimistic throughout her treatment and updates her fans about her progress through social media. She also worked in a video featuring a cancer awareness campaign, ‘Alvida’.
4. Dr. Arfa Sayeda Zehra – Champion of Urdu Literature
In one of my speeches, I said I did not wish to live either in a masculine world or in a feminine world. I would like to live in a human world, because women rights are basically human [rights]. I thought that made my feminist friends very unhappy with me.
Dr. Arfa Syeda (sourced from Dawn News)
Dr. Arfa is an eminent Pakistani educationist and Urdu language expert. She is also an advocate for human development, basic human rights, and gender equality. She chooses to voice her opinion through the power of pen. Dr. Arfa is a Professor Emeritus of History at Forman Christian College and is a former principal of the Lahore College for Women University. Moreover, she is also a former caretaker provincial minister of Punjab.
Dr. Zehra is a big advocate for further development of Urdu language. She patrons for a ‘literary revolution’ of Pakistani youth for their national language. She holds a University of Hawaii 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award. In addition to that, she is the chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women for which she moderated a forum on women’s basic legal rights. She has taught in LUMS and currently, she is associated with FCCU where she continues to share her wisdom and knowledge with others.
5. Sanam Marvi – A Voice That Transcends The Ordinary
Sanam Marvi is a Pakistani Folk and Sufi singer. She can sing articulately in Sindhi, Punjabi, and Balochi languages. She debuted in 2009, at ‘Virsa Heritage’, which was a musical program aired on PTV network. After that Sanam went on to perform at Coke Studio, one of the most celebrated Pakistani music platforms.
Watch Sanam Marvi’s coke studio performance here:
Sanam by all means is an iron woman! Not only did she make a name for herself in the Pakistani music industry and promote Pakistani Arts and Culture on international and national platforms, but she successfully fought many personal battles as well. She lost her father at the age of one. After her mother remarried, she was raised by her stepfather who started giving her musical training at the age of 7. She was trained by one of Pakistan’s most renowned musicians, Abida Parveen and Ustad Fateh Ali.
These women manifest positivity and are a source of encouragement for women to achieve what they believe in. If you are dreaming of making your mark in the creative field, but that’s not ALL you want to do, take heart – there were many like you, and no obstacle was too hard for them to overcome, for Passion – Thy Name Is Woman, The One Who’s Never Beaten!