ISLAMABAD, March 10: Shahla Zia, one of the pioneers of the women rights movement in Pakistan, died here on Thursday morning after a brief illness. She was 58 and leaves behind two daughters and a son.
She was buried at the Islamabad Graveyard in the evening. Her funeral was attended by family members and a large number of people from different walks of life, including lawyers, parliamentarians, representatives of civil society and government officials.
The late Ms Zia was the daughter of eminent educationist Dr Satnam Mahmood and prominent freedom fighter Nawabzada Mahmood Ali Khan.
One of the founding members of Women Action Forum Aurat Foundation and the AGHS women’s law firm and legal aid centre, Ms Zia was one of those women activists who were jailed for protesting against the Law of Evidence at the Lahore High Court in 1983. She was at the forefront of the struggle against all discriminatory laws against women and religious minorities.
Ms Zia made immense contribution to law reform and research on women’s legal, political and development issues. She was one the main authors of the 1997 report of the Commission of Inquiry on Women and an author and co-editor of the ‘National Report-1995’ for the Women’s Conference in Beijing.
She conceptualized the chapter on women’s development for the 9th five-year plan for the Planning Commission.
She had resign from the various government committees and the Beijing Core Group when the 15th Constitutional Amendment was introduced in Parliament in 1998.
In the death of Shahla Zia the women and human rights movements have lost a sincere and courageous activists.