Begum Ra'ana Liaquat Ali Khan

Begum Ra'ana Liaquat Ali Khan (Urdu: رعنا لیاقت علی خان) (née Sheila Irene Pant) (1905 - June 13, 1990) was born in a Kumauni brahmin family at Almora in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. However, her grandfather, a Hindu had converted to Christianity. She was educated at the University of Lucknow where she obtained a first class Masters degree with honors in economics in 1929.


She began her career as a teacher in the Gokhale Memorial School after completing the Teachers Diploma Course from the Diocesan College, Calcutta. She was later appointed as Professor of Economics in the Indraprastha College, Delhi.

In December 1932, she was married to Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan. After the reorganization of Muslim League, Begum Ra'ana devoted herself to the task of creating political consciousness amongst the Muslim women. Her struggle for emancipation continued till the creation of Pakistan for Muslims of India in 1947.

After the assassination of her husband Liaquat Ali Khan in 1951, Begum Ra'ana continued her services for the social and economic benefit of women of Pakistan till her death in 1990.

Initiatives for women

As wife of the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Begum Ra'ana took the lead in starting the women's voluntary service in 1948. Women were encouraged to take up responsibilities in administering first aid, organizing food distribution, dealing with health problems, epidemics and clothing, and above all, in providing moral and emotional support. She also took the initiative of introducing defense training for women. On her own initiative, she formed the Pakistan Women's National Guard (PWNG) and the Pakistan Women Naval Reserve (PWNR) in 1949, and was appointed as the Chief Controller of both, with the rank of a Brigadier. Viewed in the perspective of the partition massacres, where helpless women had been brutally treated, the idea was not entirely unrealistic. The PWNG and PWNR could not survive for long and were disbanded soon after Begum Ra'ana went abroad as Pakistan's Ambassador.

Establishment of APWA

In 1949, Begum Ra'ana arranged a conference of over 100 active women from all over Pakistan. The conference announced the formation of a voluntary and non-political organization for the social, educational and cultural uplift of the women, named as All Pakistan Women's Association (APWA). She was nominated as its first President.


Begum Ra'ana served as Pakistan's ambassador to the Netherlands in the 1950s and as ambassador to Italy in the 1960s. She was the:
*First Muslim woman ambassador and Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps (while in the Netherlands),
*First Muslim woman Governor (of Sindh province in the mid–1970s),
*First Muslim woman Chancellor of a university (all the universities in Sindh)
*First Muslim woman delegate to the UN, and
*First Muslim woman to win the United Nations Human Rights Award,
*First Muslim woman to receive the Woman of Achievement Medal, (1950).

Awards and honors

*Queen Juliana of the Netherlands conferred on her the Grand Cross of Orange–Nassau.
*Recipient of the International Gimbel Award for service to humanity . (1962)
*United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights for her outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in other United Nations human rights instruments. (1978)

External links

* [ Pictures of Begum Ra'ana Liaquat Ali Khan's Visit to the USA] -type "Pakistan" in the search bar.
* [ A Short Biography]
* [ Profile of Begum Ra'na Liaquat Ali Khan]

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