International public policy and gender reforms specialist Salman Sufi received the prestigious Mother Teresa Award in Mumbai on Sunday for his work on empowerment of women in Pakistan over the past four years.
Sufi, who authored the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act 2016, has also conceptualised South Asia’s first one-stop help centre (Violence Against Women Centre) for female survivors of violence.
Sufi is also credited for launching Pakistan’s first campaign for women’s mobility called Women on Wheels. His work included adding chapters on women’s rights in Punjab text books.
Sufi in his acceptance speech paid tribute to Mother Teresa and the countless women who face abuse but are unable to seek justice.
He termed the condition of women in Pakistan and India as alarming and asked both countries to work on eradicating violence against women.
Sufi acknowledged the support of former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif as the imperative factor behind the implementation of his women empowerment reforms.
He announced that he is planning to establish a network of his projects in all SAARC countries so an entire ecosystem of women's empowerment can be established across the South Asia region.
The award was conferred upon him by Harmony Foundation and Missions of Charity.
Other recipients included Shirin Ebadi (Nobel Laureate- 2003), Tawakkol Karman (Nobel Laureate- 2011), First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani, Yeonmi Park ─ a North Korean refugee, Founder of Bring Back Our Girls Oby Ezekwesili, Nobel Laureate, Yazidi refugee and UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking Nadia Murad, and CEO and Founder of Pyramedia Dr Nashwa Al-Ruwaini.
The ceremony was attended by notables including Mahesh Bhatt, Dr Abraham Mathai, Rizwan Merchant and Bollywood stars.