11/21/2007 03:43 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Pakistan's Women

Musharraf's acrobatics may actually mark the return of democracy to Pakistan after more than eight years of military rule. Here's why: while the world has been focused on Pakistan's bombs and viability as a state, its women see a flickering light at the end of the tunnel, a future that may hold the promise of a democratic and fair society.

It is this vision that motivated Asha, a 27-year-old journalist and activist for human rights to step up in a public demonstration after the initial coup and prevent her husband, Asim, from being arrested. Reuters has a video showing riot police bearing down on Asim. A slim, long-haired girl steps in front of him, confronting them, putting her arms around him.

If there is anything encouraging about the current crisis, it is that average citizens are demanding that their voices be heard. Asha and Asim, two young newlyweds, may seem like unlikely heroes, yet they are not uncommon heroes in today's Pakistan.

The Global Fund for Women has been proud to stand with the courageous people of Pakistan who have battled many restrictions on human rights during these eight years of military rule. Women have played a leading role in that opposition, fighting for changes in the restrictive and oppressive Hudood ordinances based on Sharia law that were imposed in 1979. In our 20 years of grantmaking in Pakistan, the Global Fund has supported women's groups working to influence and change policy, shape journalism, challenge honor killings, provide girls with access to education, offer services to victims of sexual and domestic violence, organize women workers in factories and informal sectors of the economy, and respond to disasters like the earthquake a few years ago. We are struck by their courage, their persistence, their refusal to bow their heads to state power, and their willingness to risk both personal safety and comfort in order to fight for social justice and political freedom.

Kavita N. Ramdas,
The Global Fund for Women

Find out about women's status in Pakistan at