LAHORE: Twenty women who have made their mark in various walks of life were conferred with Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (WCCI) Laurels of Honour Awards by Governor Rafique Rajwana at Governor House here on Wednesday.

Elena Nicholas, who has been representing the Pakistan Embassy in Greece for over 20 years at various national and international fora through her singing and portrayal of a soft image of Pakistan, was presented with a souvenir. She also sang her song ‘I Love Pakistan’ that added colour to the exclusive event.

Among others, the Culture Award was presented to Dr Fouzia Saeed, who served as the head of National Institution of Traditional and Folk Heritage – popularly known as Lok Virsa – from 2013 to February 2018. During the last two decades, she has done outstanding work in promotion of culture as well as written three books – Taboo, Forgotten Faces and Folk Heritage of Pakistan.

Governor Rajwana said he always welcomed the WCCI because the presence of leading women was a source of encouragement and strength, which “we convey to people”.

He said the women being given awards and those running the WCCI had empowered themselves through hard work, and mentioned similar women from Afghanistan and Bangladesh whom he had met during a recent moot of the Saarc WCCI.

The governor especially mentioned one of the evening’s recipients who had started her business from scratch after her husband died a few years after her marriage, becoming a successful entrepreneur.

“I have met many women who faced hardships but fought bravely against the heavy odds,” he said, adding the government was also doing a lot for the betterment and empowerment of women.

He took exception to what he called was negative portrayal of Pakistan in the electronic media. “They are portraying a bad image of Pakistan which in fact is a beautiful country. Nobody can stop Pakistan from progressing, or harm it. We should love Pakistan more than Elena,” he said, referring to her song ‘I Love Pakistan’.

The governor paid tribute to the Kashmiri people and their leaders, especially Yasin Malik, for suffering at the hands of the Indian forces.

WCCI President Falahat Imran in her welcome address said the body believed in the economic empowerment of women.

The ceremony had been organised to celebrate the accomplishments of women who had attained distinction in their respective fields and succeeded despite difficulties that came their way.

“They are a source of inspiration for us all,” she added.

The chamber’s Founding President Dr Shehla Javed Akram explained how WCCI selected the 20 women for the awards. “Pakistan is full of women who have done unique work,” she added.

The recipients included television director and producer Sultana Siddiqui, educationist Nasreen M Kasuri, author and activist Tehmina Durrani, women’s rights activist Fauzia Waqar, home-based working women rights activist Ume Laila Azhar, Board of Investment Secretary Samaira Nazir Siddiqui, gemologist Fakhra Hasan, fashion designer Maria Butt, printer Mahrukh Ali, entrepreneur Maria Umar, beautician Shameelah Ismail, journalist Shehrbano Taseer, businesswomen Myra Qureshi and Faaiza Amjad, micro-entrepreneur Raheela Shuja, peace activist Mushaal Hussein Mullick, kick-boxing instructor Rameesha Shahid and IT specialist Sarah Ahmad.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2018


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