Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan was born at Almora in the United Provinces and was educated at Lucknow. She obtained a first class Masters degree with honors in economics from the University of Lucknow in 1929.
Begum Ra’ana began her practical life as a teacher in the Gokhale Memorial School after completing the Teachers Diploma Course from the Diocesan College, Calcutta. She was later appointed as Professor of Economics in the Indraprstha Girls College, Delhi.
In April 1933, she was married to Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan.
After the reorganization of Muslim League, Begum Ra’ana devoted herself to the task of creating political consciousness amongst the Muslim women. Her struggle for emancipation continued till independence of Muslims of India in 1947.
The wife of the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Begum Ra’ana took the lead in starting the women’s voluntary service in 1948. Women were encouraged to take up responsibilities in administering first aid, organizing food distribution, dealing with health problems, epidemics and clothing, and above all, in providing moral and emotional support. Ra’ana Liaquat Ali also took the initiative of introducing defense training for women. This step was not well received. On her own initiative, she formed the Pakistan Women’s National Guard (P. W. N. G.) and the Pakistan Women Naval Reserve (P. W. N. R.) in 1949. Begum Ra’ana was the Chief Controller of both, with the rank of a Brigadier. Viewed in the perspective of the partition massacres, where helpless women had been brutally treated, the idea was not entirely unrealistic. The P. W. N. G. and P. W. N. R. could not survive for long and were disbanded soon after Ra’ana Liaquat Ali went abroad as Pakistan’s Ambassador.
In 1949, Begum Ra’ana arranged a conference of over 100 active women from all over the country. The conference announced the formation of a voluntary and non-political organization for the social, educational and cultural uplift of the women, named as All Pakistan Women Association (A. P. W. A.). She was nominated as its first President.
Liaquat Ali Khan was assassinated in 1951. Begum Ra’ana continued her services for the social and economic uplift of women of Pakistan till her death.
This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003