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All Pakistan Women Association Charity Profile
The History of APWA is the history of women in Pakistan. APWA was established in 1949 by the late Begum Raana Liaquat Ali Khan, wife of Pakistan's first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. APWA was formed to tackle the refugee crises that emerged as a result of partition between India and Pakistan. Begum Raana Liaquat announced the formation of a voluntary, non-partisan, non-political organization in recognition of the need for a national association to oversee, consolidate and coordinate women's activity for the social, cultural and economic empowerment of women and children in Pakistan. Over the 60 years of its existence, APWA has emerged as the oldest and one of the respected non-governmental organizations in the country.
APWA was very much the brainchild of Begum Raana Liaquat who recognized the need for a national association to oversee, consolidate and coordinate women's activities for the greater good. Under the auspices of APWA, Begum Raana Liaquat set up schools, dispensaries maternity homes and family planning clinics in both urban and rural areas. Her basic creed was health, education and training.
By the mid-1950's, APWA had 32 district branches with a total membership of about 1200 women of whom about 800 were said to be actively engaged in social work. APWA maintained contacts with other women through its 20 industrial homes where an estimated 40,000 women passed through in various stages of training each year. Furthermore, through its 100 social welfare centres, 6 dispensaries and 13 basic education centers, another 15,000 women were being reached. Approximately 8,000 children attended the primary schools run by APWA. Higher level education institution opened by APWA included the college for Science and Arts that was established in Karachi in 1964. The College for Women in Lahore became a full degree college in 1958.
While it is the social work aspect of APWA's priorities that is generally emphasized, the organization also worked to improve women's rights and status in legal and socio-political terms. APWA supporters lobbied hard for change that would at least in part equalize and regularize aspects of the Muslim Family Law.
APWA was instrumental in equalizing and regularizing aspects of the Muslim Family Law. Together with female economist, sociologists and politicians, APWA helped in the creation of the Family Laws Ordinance (1961), which still exists today. The Family Laws Ordinance encompasses the registration of marriages, sets a minimum age for marriage, outlines the procedure for divorces and lays down the rules of inheritance for orphans.