Begum Jehan Ara Shah Nawaz was the daughter of the famous Muslim League leader, Sir Muhammad Shafi. Born in April 1896, she was educated at the Queen Mary College, Lahore. She was married to Mian Shah Nawaz.
With the emergence of the All India Muslim Women’s Conference, Begum Shah Nawaz devoted all her efforts towards its cause. She was successful in moving the organization to pass a resolution against polygamy in its session held at Lahore in 1918. She was also associated with the education and orphanage committees of the Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam, Lahore. She was an active member of the All India Muslim Women’s Conference and remained president of its provincial branch for seven years. She was vice-president of the Central Committee of the All India Muslim Women’s Conference.
Besides being a member of the Lahore Municipal Committee, she was also associated with several hospitals, and maternity and child welfare committees. She was the first woman to be elected as vice-president of the Provincial Executive and was a member of the All Indian General Committee of the Red Cross Society. She was a woman delegate to the Round Table Conference. In 1935, she founded the Punjab Provincial Women’s Muslim League. In 1937, she was elected as a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly and was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Medical Relief and Public Health. In 1938, she joined the Women’s Central Subcommittee of the All India Muslim League. In 1942, the Government of India appointed her as a member of the National Defense Council. Meanwhile, the Muslim League called upon the League members to resign from the Defense Council. Upon refusing to abide by its decision, she was dismissed from the Muslim League.
In 1946, she rejoined the League and was elected as a member of the Punjab Assembly. The same year, she was sent along with M. A. H. Isphahani on a goodwill mission to the United States of America. Their mission was to explain the Muslim League’s point of view. She played an important role during the Civil Disobedience Movement in Punjab in 1947, and was arrested along with other Muslim League leaders.
She passed away on November 27, 1979, at the age of 83.
This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003