our History

The idea for the Pakistan Association for Women’s Studies was first conceived in 1991 at the National Workshop on Women’s Studies organized on March 2-5, 1991 by the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Studies, University of Karachi, established as a project in 1989 by the Ministry of Women Development, Government of Pakistan. At this National Workshop, A Pakistani Perspective of Women’s Studies more than eighty women scholars, academics, and activists from across Pakistan, unanimously supported the proposal of Tahera Aftab, the founding Director of the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Studies, to form a network of women academics and activists for the purpose of supporting and strengthening the newly established discipline of Women’s Studies in Pakistan.


A core group of members, consisting of Anwar Shaheen, (late) Shakila Rahman, (late) Zareen Ilyas, and Ayesha Jameel, led by Tahera Aftab, held regular consultations. A few months later, the idea took shape in the formation of the Pakistan Association for Women’s Studies. Finally, PAWS was registered (Registration No. DSW (726)-K. of 1992) under the Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance 1961 (XLVI f 1961).


In our early days, we received support and encouragement by great stalwarts and champions of women’s empowerment such as Begum Shireen Rahmatulla who joined our team enthusiastically as an Honorary member on December 23, 1992, Begum Tazeen Faridi (1920-2010) who joined us as an Honorary Member on Feb 27, 1993, Dr. Aquila Kiani (1921-2012) who became an honorary member on May 30, 1993, Ruhana Iqbal Khan of the Bhabis became a Life Member, and Dr. Unaiza Niaz became a life member on May 12, 1993. Among the ordinary members were Mahnaz Rahman (of the Aurat Foundation) who joined us on October 11, 1994 and Simi Kamal, who became an ordinary member on August 1, 1996. The list of our early members is long. PAWS remains grateful for their support.