After a four-decade-long struggle for women’s rights, Dr Fouzia Saeed received her due recognition on Friday when she was awarded the “Battle of Crete Award” by the Washington Oxi Day Foundation for her commendable work in the field.
The first recipient of the annual Oxi Day Battle of Crete Award, which honours a woman for courageous action for freedom and democracy, in memory of the role women played against the Axis Forces in the Battle of Crete in World War II, was given to Burmese pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
In an award ceremony held at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Vervee lauded Saeed’s struggle for women rights, saying she had set an example of courage and commitment to women’s advancement.
“Not only for her work against sexual harassment, but her years of work against violence against women especially the work on several legislations is exemplary,” said Vervee.
The social activist while addressing the audience acknowledged the support she had received from her country and said, “While the United Nations has made some efforts to change its work environment, I am proud of my country for recognising this scourge. I am proud of my parliament for making two laws to make sexual harassment a crime and I am proud of my federal and provincial Governments for implementing it.”
Saeed also thanked Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman and other parliamentarians for playing a vital role in passing the law against sexual harassment in Pakistan.
“Modern day Davids do not necessarily have to use confrontational methods but can take risks and show courage through intelligent strategies and forge partnerships for change. Our fight is not against an army or a government but is against the centuries old patriarchal system and we need to build solidarity to get women recognised as full citizens in democratic systems,” said Saeed.
Dr Fouzia is known for her work for women rights in Pakistan and the United Nations (UN). Her courage to stand in the UN against sexual harassment earned her international recognition.