THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE PAKISTAN MOVEMENT
 

You have already learnt that Pakistan was established on 14 August, 1947. Before this the British ruled South Asia. After about one hundred years of the British rule, both the Hindus and the Muslims of India realised that they must recover their independence and do away with the rule of the British. In the beginning, both the Hindus and the Muslims worked together to drive the British from India. Together they formed a political party called the Indian National Congress. But soon the Muslims realised that the Hindus who were in majority in the Congress as well as in the country, would never give equal treatment to the Muslims and would not share the fruits of independence with them. So they formed their own political party, and called it the All-India Muslim League. Many Muslim leaders, who had earlier joined the Congress party now left it and became members of the Muslim League. In 1934, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah became its President. The Muslims being united on a common platform, under his able guidance and leadership, now started their struggle for an independent Muslim State to be called Pakistan.
It was very difficult to make the British realise that they had to consider the demands of the Muslims before they decided to give independence to India. A long and hard struggle followed. Not only did the men take part, but women also actively participated in this glorious struggle. At that time, our women were in strict purdah. They were less educated and less politically aware than the Hindu women. But, there were a number of brave and selfless women who inspite of these hindrances, came forward and worked for this noble cause side by side with men. They formed, the women's branch of the Muslim League to organise women and inform them about the politics of the country. They travelled to the countryside to tell the women there, what they should do. They organised public meetings for women and addressed large gatherings. They also took part in public meetings organised by men and made speeches before large audiences. They met wives and daughters of the British officers including those of the Viceroys and made them realise that their demand was just. They opened classes in their own homes to educate Muslim girls. Sometimes, the police would use tear-gas and would lathi-charge the women's meetings and even arrest their leaders.
They encouraged their brothers, husbands and sons not to give up the struggle until their goal was achieved. Among such selfless and courageous women the name of aged Abadi Begum, popularly known as 'Bi Aman' leads the rest 'Bi Aman' was the mother of Moulana Mohammad Ali and Moulana Shaukat Ali, two brave and noble brothers who devoted their lives to the cause of Muslims. When in this struggle the two brothers were arrested, brought to trial and imprisoned for two years, she sent a word to them not to give up their cause and not to ask for pardon, which was the condition of their release. 'Bi Aman' had not been to school or college. Her greatness lies in the fact that she had taught her sons to be willing to sacrifice their lives in the cause of Muslim independence and later encouraged them to accomplish their goal
Another lady worthy of our admiration is Begum Mohammad Ali. Dressed in a burqah she not only attended men's public meetings but was also the first Muslim woman to address them. She spoke in simple words and in a natural tone but very effectively. She also wrote for the Press. Her opinions were highly respected and the Quaid-i-Azam held her in great esteem. When she was to address women's meetings, large crowds would gather to hear her. Men and women honoured her alike.
Then there was Miss Fatima Jinnah whom the grateful nation later called Madr-i-Millat (Mother of the nation). She helped her brother in the struggle for the establishment of Pakistan. It was through her that the Muslim women were able to seek the Quaid-i-Azam's guidance and to have interviews with him. Being more politically informed, she passed on her information to other women. In addition to all this, she looked after her illustrious brother.
Begum Ra'ana Liaquat Ali worked as an honorary secretary and typist to Liaquat Ali Khan (her husband) at a time, when the Muslim League could not afford the salary of a secretary. She arranged parties, where Muslim women could meet the wife and the daughter of the Viceroy, so as to explain to them their side of the matter and express their protest. She also organised the Women's Voluntary Service and later the Women's National Guards, consisting of three battalions with 2400 girls, in which, she herself held the rank of Brigadier.
In Sindh, the work of awakening the Muslim women was carried out by Lady Nusrat Haroon, Lady Sughra Hidayatullah, Begum Khairunnisa Shaban and Miss Fakhrunnisa Wali Mohammad Effendi. Lady Haroon was a spirited woman of upright character and a kind hostess. Her house in Karachi became the centre of women's political activities and it was a place of welcome to the Muslim League workers when they came to Karachi to attend meetings. Classes were also held in her house to educate Muslim girls, Lady Hidayatullah travelled throughout Sindh holding women's public meetings. The first public meeting of women in Sindh was held in Karachi's Zoological Garden. These three ladies led the anti-British processions. Lady Sughra Hidayatullah and Begum Khairunnisa Shaban also led processions in Lahore and succeeded in hoisting the Muslim League flag on the Secretariat.
Begum Jahan Ara Shahnawaz from the Punjab, represented the Muslim women at the three Round Table Conferences held in London and was the first woman ever to make a speech in London's Guild Hall. She also travelled widely and explained to the people of other countries, why the Muslims in India wanted a separate State. Other women, who played an active part in the struggle for independence are Begum Iqbal Hussain, Begum Salma Tassaduq Hussain, Geti Ara Bashir Ahmed, Begum Shaista Ikramullah, Begum Viqarunnisa Noon, Begum Nawab Mohammad Ismail, Noorus-Sabah Begum and Fatima Shaikh of Hyderabad Sindh.

 
 
     
  Lady Nusrat Haroon  
Begum Ra'ana Liaquat Ali
Begum Shaista Ikramullah
Begum Jahan Ara Shahnawaz
Miss Fatima Jinnah
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