A beautiful woman with courage, to whom all of the Pakistanis treasure close to their heart, is Shad Begum, who is the resident of the backward Talash area of Lower Dir, Pakistan. Shad Begum, a brave lady from Pakistan was born in 1974 and she started her social work activities in 2000. Shad Begum was elected as tehsil councilor in 2001 and district councilor in 2005 despite strong opposition from her family and other people of the area where women are not even allowed to cast their votes. Shad Begum’s family members are affiliated with a religious party, Jamaat-i-Islami but she got support from her father, brothers and husband for her campaigns.
Shad Begum is the founder of Anjuman Behbood-i-Khawateen Talash (ABKT) which is also the first women rights organization in Dir Lower. Later, the name of the organization was changed as Association for Behaviour and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT).
The area to which Shad Begum belongs, it was a tough ask for her to carry on the struggle for the women empowerment. This area is specially known for its conservativeness and a typical male dominated society. This brave lady faced many threats during her work but she never lost heart. Shad Begum and her organization contributed for the education, political awareness and health improvement projects in this area. In the traditional Pashtun culture, women are discouraged to consult with any male doctors so many women die from illness without getting proper treatment. Shad Begum raised this issue before the authorities and started an effective campaign for this purpose. Moreover, Shad Begum and her organization also executed several projects including construction of hanging bridges, installation of hand pumps, sinking wells, pavement of streets, provision of small loans to local traders and capacity building of women at grassroots level.
On this 8th day of March 8, 2012, on the eve of International Women’s Day, Shad Begum, a brave lady from Pakistan has received the International Women of Courage Award of US State Department from the US First Lady Michelle Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington. This is truly a matter of great honor and pleasure for the Pakistani Nation that Shad Begum, a woman of lower class educational and family background has proved that if you possess a passion to go beyond the limits in order to achieve a certain goal, no hurdle, obstruction or barricade detract you from accomplishing that target.