Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan was born as Sheila Irene on 13th February, 1905 in Almora, India. In 1929, she did her Masters at the University of Lucknow.
She also studied at Diocesan College, Calcutta. She came to be known as Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali after her marriage to Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan in 1932. She became the first lady of Pakistan from 1947 to 1951 while Liaquat Ali Khan was the first Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Begum Ra’ana played an important role in creating political awareness among women. The influx of refugees from across the border at the time of partition brought many problems mainly in the form of epidemics and lack of basic necessities.
She was prominent stateswoman from the start of cold war till its end. Begum Ra’ana urged the women to come out of their houses at this hour of need. She along with her group of volunteers collected medicines, food and clothing for the refugees.
Begum Ra’ana founded APWA (All Pakistan Women’s Association) which worked for the education and social uplift of women. She established schools and colleges for the girls and industrial homes where women could learn skills and earn a respectable livelihood.
This amazing lady also served Pakistan as an ambassador in the Netherlands, Tunisia and Italy. She was also appointed as the Governor of Sindh Province from 1973 to 1976. For her services, she received many prestigious international awards among which United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights is prominent.
Begum Ra’ana passed away on 13th June, 1990 in Karachi. Begum Ra’ana will be remembered in the history as a staunch believer and fighter for the rights of women. Her life is one long struggle for the social and economic uplift of women.