The All Pakistan Women Association (APWA) has a history that is almost as old as the country itself. Founded by Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan, the wife of the first Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1949, APWA is the oldest and largest women welfare non-governmental organization working in Pakistan. The partition of India saw the displacement of many refugee women who had faced severe trauma and loss. It was recognized that there was a need for an NGO working specifically to protect the interests of women. APWA became the pioneer volunteer organization for women, led by visionaries like Fatima Jinnah, and motivated women leaders who played an important role in the fight for freedom. Hundreds of women responded to the call for help with a shared vision of making a difference. They worked endlessly in refugee camps, established family health centres, set up schools and industrial homes for women.
Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan, on 11th Dec. 1978 at the United Nations announced, “APWA will continue its struggle through the next decade, and the next, until one day, the Pakistani woman shall emerge free from all her shackles – economic, social and political, and face a future over which no shadows appear to obstruct her path towards her maximum development.” APWA’s vision is to eliminate social and economic discrimination against women and the girl child in Pakistan. To this end, the organization works at the grassroots level with local communities to empower women through education, skill development, and legal awareness, whilst providing them with essential healthcare.
APWA’s National Headquarter is located in Karachi with provincial headquarters located in the capitals of Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa along with a Liason Branch in Islamabad. Additionally, there are 18 District Branches across Pakistan. APWA leads the international platform through its Overseas Units in Canada, USA, and the U.K.
In addition to being a well-recognised NGO in Pakistan with consultative status with the government, APWA has also gained consultative status with UNICEF and status B category with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is also currently part of the UN Department of Public Information (DPI). APWA is a member of the largest international women’s organizations including the International Alliance of Women (IAW), the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), the Asia Pacific Regional Network (IRENE), and the General Federation of Women (GFWC) in the USA. Local affiliations include national NGOs such as the Trend Nurses Association (established by APWA in 1949 and affiliated with the International Council of Nursing), the Federation of University Women, and the Business and Professional Women’s Club.
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