Asma Jahangir was born into a prominent political family in Pakistan. Her father Malik Ghulam Jilani, was a civil servant who spent years under house arrest for protesting military dictatorship. Asma got involved in politics early on, protesting her father’s arrest.
She grew up to become a prominent human rights lawyer and social activist who defended the marginalized despite facing threats, beatings, and jail. She co-founded and chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, formed the first women’s law firm in Pakistan, and led rallies for social and political change. Asma went on to become Pakistan’s first woman to serve as the President of Supreme Court Bar Association. She also served as a United Nations Special Rapporteur, where she worked until her death.
For her undeniable contributions to humanity in the face of relentless ridicule, risks, and violence, Asma was the recipient of several awards including the 1995 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2005, Four Freedoms Award in 2010, and the 2014 Right Livelihood Award.