Pakistan: Mahira Khan and Sania Nishtar included in BBC’s ‘100 most influential women’ list

Islamabad: The world has acknowledged the role of two Pakistani women for bringing a meaningful change in society through their efforts to eradicate poverty and discrimination.

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Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar and Pakistan’s showbiz star and internationally-recognized movie artist Mahira Khan have been listed among the 100 most inspiring and influential women around the world.

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Many are saying the two women’s inclusion in the BBC’s list of 100 reflects Pakistan’s brighter face — something the country needs badly in these times of sectarian differences and Islamic radicalism.

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The BBC’s list of 100 inspiring and influential women for year 2020 includes women who led change and made a difference during these turbulent times.

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“This is an absolute honor for Pakistan. Dr Sania Nishtar is leading Ehsaas programme and this is what Sanna Marin is doing in Finland, leading the country’s all-female coalition government or Sarah Gilbert, who heads the Oxford University research into a coronavirus vaccine,” said a spokesperson of the Ehsaas Support Programme that Nishtar is heading.

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“This distinction has been conferred upon Dr. Sania for her work and contribution in poverty alleviation, global health and development”, the spokesperson added.

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In her message on this unique honour, Nishtar said, “The dramatic impact of COVID-19 presents us with a once-in-a-generation chance to build a fairer world and bring an end to poverty, inequality and the climate crisis. For this, women must be equal, empowered stakeholders.”

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‘No ordinary actress’

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Showbiz star of Pakistan, Khan has also been recognized for her influential role in Pakistani society and for making the people particularly the women realize their self-esteem and the great contribution in society.

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According to the BBC’s acknowledgement, Khan has made it to the list because of her activism to highlight social issues in Pakistan and for “changing the narrative” in films and on TV.

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“Khan is no ordinary actress – she is outspoken against sexual violence, refuses to endorse skin-lightening creams and supports the fight against racism,” it stated.

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Khan has also been vocal about her support for Afghan refugee children in Pakistan. She is a national goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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Khan’s recent criticism and refusal to work for certain brands that emphasized on ‘fair’ colour of skin also won her international fame.

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It is because of a campaign run by her and other celebrities that a world-renowned brand of skin cream had to change its brand name.

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The list of influential persons also includes women such as Michelle Yeoh, star of the new Avatar and Marvel films; Sarah Gilbert who heads the Oxford University research into a coronavirus vaccine; Jane Fonda, a climate activist and actor, and Bilkis Bano, an 82-year-old woman who became the face of the longest-running protest against the citizenship law in India.

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