Islamic Republic of Pakistan: The official name is bound to spring a few surprises when referred as the first Islamic country to have been headed by a female, that too twice. The country currently prey to the felonies of radicals, otherwise boasts a rich history of substantial contributions towards its development by women. The nation started its journey of creation, aided by the resoluteness and willpower of a strong lady honored and named as “Mother of Nation”. Since then the women from this verstaliticly beautiful country have overcame any and all obstacles to prove their mettle in the fields of Science, Arts, Medicine, Engineering, Politics, Education, Aviation, Space, Armed Forces, Sports etc. on the national as well as global front.

It’s pertinent to note that the journey for Pakistani women towards recognition was never easy in an overwhelmingly male dominated/controlled society, ever-ready to use the mace of religion to erect moral, social, and cultural barriers. Nevertheless contrary to all the predictions of naysayers’, the country proudly has the services of a Female Fighter Pilot, while the Noble Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and the Academy Award winner Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy are no strangers to the world.

But far from the limelight, fame, and stardom a breed of brave Pakistani women exists, who give second priority to their own safety when they put on a veil and arm themselves with a portable cool box, loaded with the ammunition to combat the dreaded polio virus. These are the lowly paid lady health workers known as anti-polio workers. At present only 3 countries of the world remain polio-endemic; depressingly Pakistan is not only one of those countries but also has the highest number of polio cases.

Female Anti Polio Workers in Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan

Female Anti Polio Workers in Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan

Prior to 2012, the anti polio vaccination was considered to be the least traumatizing duty in the Pakistani health sector however since 2012 it has suddenly become a deadly one. Approximately 80 officials associated to anti polio vaccination campaigns across all four provinces of Pakistan have lost their lives. Majority of the victims of these cruel attacks have been the female anti-polio workers, while others being male anti-polio workers/volunteers and security personnel protecting the anti-polio vaccination teams.

Even as of today, these lady health workers take up their duties across the country, despite the obvious threats by terrorist groups, targeted assassinations of women anti polio workers, and the sheer incapacity of government/security agencies to provide them decent security. While at the same time, the risks of being verbally abused, and/or sexually harassed have never gone out of play, rather have been experienced by these workers one more than one occasions. Despite all these dangers, these brave women continue to respond relentlessly to each call of duty, sacrifice their lives, abandon their future, for the future of not only Pakistan but the whole world by contributing towards the cause of Polio free world. Through their contributions they have recognized themselves as a true force that will undoubtedly “Make it Happen”.

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