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WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman has been awarded the Smith College Medal for her achievements and dedication to the rights of women.
Rehman, who graduated in 1985 from the institution, joined five other alumnae — who are now outstanding professionals — in receiving the medal.
“After 20 years of service as one of the most respected Pakistani journalists, you became part of the story, seeking to add a much-needed voice for unity and equality to a political struggle defined by sharp divides.
“You gained a seat in parliament and became the architect and advocate of bills for women’s rights ‘women’s empowerment bill; the domestic violence prevention act and the anti-honour killings bill,” a citation by the Smith College Medal Committee acknowledged.
It noted that in 2011, Rehman became the voice of her country as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US and that the college is honouring her for her ‘courage in seeking and speaking truth’ in the face of odds.
Established in 1962, the medal is given annually to those alumnae who, in the judgment of the trustees, exemplify in their lives and work for the true purpose of a liberal arts education.
The other recipients included Carol T Chris, the Smith’s 10th president, Gail Kern Paster, Shakespearean scholar; Kay Holekamp, zoologist and field biologist; Janet Clarke McKinley, global investor and philanthropist and Anne Searls De Groot, scientist and entrepreneur.
Sharing her views on the occasion from her experience as a journalist and parliamentarian, Rehman emphasised that outstanding people must focus on building institutions to ensure successor of their efforts.
Another measure of success of leaders should be the formulation of policies in a way that means something for people at the bottom of the ladder, the most un-empowered and vulnerable, she underscored.
“It is to them (the vulnerable) that public policy must speak to first of all.”
Rehman, who earlier served as federal information and health minister, said she owed to the women of Pakistan to devote her efforts towards their well-being and development as important members of society.
She took the opportunity to highlight Pakistani government’s endeavours to empower women at grassroots level as well as give them representation at the top of the pyramid. “It does change the nature of complex decision-making,” she said in the context of women leaders’ role in ensuring rights and opportunities for women’s development.