Begum Ra'ana Liaquat Ali Khan
Begum Ra'ana Liaquat Ali Khan (1905 - June 13, 1990) was born in a Kumauni Brahmin family at Almora in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. She was educated at the University of Lucknow where she obtained a first class Masters degree with honours 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 first Prime Minister of Pakistan. 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.
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.
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).
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.