BLOG SURF: Equality heroes

Last month, I got to chat with a dozen ADB project officers hailed as “unsung gender heroes” – so called because they managed to push for gender equality in their work even if their job didn’t require them to do so.

One of them was Irum Ahsan, a lawyer who shared how she once helped prepare a human rights petition against swara, the Pakistani custom of giving women/girls as compensation for murder committed by a male family member.

When the Supreme Court banned it and ordered the release of all victims of swara, Irum watched an 80-year old woman, jailed since the age of 11, kiss the lawyer’s forehead to thank him for her freedom. That moment is indelibly etched in her mind and drives her to work for gender equality, which she does today through legal literacy.

Irum’s passion, a spark that I saw in all the project officers I talked to, made me think how people like myself who don’t work on gender can actually still work for gender equality.