Pakistan’s Salman Sufi wins prestigious Mother Teresa Award

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MUMBAI: Pakistan’s noted Gender Reforms specialist Salman Sufi has received the prestigious Mother Teresa Award in Mumbai, India for his unprecedented work towards empowerment of women in the country.

The award ceremony was attended by notables, including Indian filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, Dr Abraham Mathai, Rizwan Merchant and Bollywood stars.

Other recipients of the award included Shirin Ebadi (Nobel Laureate- 2003), Tawakkol Karman (Nobel Laureate- 2011), HE Rula Ghani (First Lady of Afghanistan), Yeonmi Park (North Korean Refugee), Oby Ezekwesili (Founder-Bring Back Our Girls), Nadia Murad (Nobel Laureate Yazidi Refugee & UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking), and Dr Nashwa Al-Ruwaini (CEO & Founder- Pyramedia).

Sufi, who authored the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act 2016, has also conceptualised South Asia’s first one-stop help center for women survivors of violence.

Speaking on the occasion, Sufi paid tribute to Mother Teresa and the countless women who face abuse but are unable to seek justice.

“The status of women in Pakistan and India is alarming. Both countries should compete with each other for eradicating violence against women,” according to a press release.

Sufi acknowledged the political support of former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif as the imperative factor in implementation of his women empowerment reforms. He further announced that he is planning to establish a network of his projects in all SAARC countries so an entire eco system of women empowerment can be established among South Asia.

Targeting lack of mobility for women, Sufi is also credited for launching Pakistan’s first campaign for women’s mobility called Women on Wheels, which trained women across Punjab on how to ride motorcycles and take charge of their lives.  Apart from that, his work includes adding chapters on women’s rights in Punjab text books.

Sufi was former director general of a strategic reforms unit which for the first time in Pakistan introduced strategy based long-term reforms in the fields of women empowerment and public sector development.