From the day Pakistan was created till the day of her demise she wholeheartedly devoted all her time and energy for the people of her nation. It was her ardent desire to see Pakistan succeed at all levels; therefore she selflessly and relentlessly worked towards achieving that goal. Such was the woman who is known to us as Madar-i-Millat and Khatoon-i-Pakistan; none other than Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah. Let us remember this remarkable woman on her 50th death anniversary and take a brief look at some of her contributions in various areas:
Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah & the Immigrants
On the establishment of Pakistan, one of the biggest problems facing it was accommodating thousands of refugees. Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah made tremendous efforts in tackling the situation. The first step she took was to form a relief committee comprising of women (later on many such committees were formed at different places). She organized numerous charity shows and meena bazaars to raise money. She visited the refugee camps and would distribute food and clothing herself. She set up the Muslim Women’s Industrial Home to give women of all ages an opportunity to work and earn a respectable living, as well as many other sewing centers and institutes. She also established a dispensary for the medical treatment of the refugees. On the occasion of the Muhajir Convention held in October 1953 at Karachi she said
Rehabilitation is one of the most vital problems requiring immediate solution. According to Quaid-e-Azam the first step towards the realization of our great ideals is the rehabilitation and welfare of the Muhajirs. Its solution requires gigantic efforts and unless this is done, Pakistan will not progress.
This problem always remained the focus of her attention as in her last message to the nation on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha in March 1967 she expressed her concern regarding the grave condition of the refugees even after 20 years of Pakistan’s existence and urged the people to solve the problem as soon as possible.
Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah on Child Welfare & Medical Health
She really stressed on child welfare because she knew that children were a valuable asset of the nation. In 1948, the United Nations asked the Government of Pakistan to establish a National Committee of Child Welfare. Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah was requested to become the President, which she accepted happily and immediately took effective steps to run it successfully. She appealed to the people to donate towards the cause, and to achieve this she appointed 5th June 1948 as Children’s Day and requested every person to donate a day’s salary to the Child Welfare Fund. The masses supported her in this mission, which proved to be fruitful. It was because of these efforts that the director of UNAC wrote a letter of appreciation. However she was distressed on the child mortality rate which was due to shortage of maternity homes and negligence of parents, therefore she urged everyone to look after the physical and mental wellbeing of children. She considered raising children on the proper lines ‘a national service’.
On inaugurating a school in 1958 she said
Childhood, being the most impressionable, is regarded as the most important age. During this period children are very keen to seek knowledge and understand things themselves. It is the duty of both parents and the teachers to guide and explain them satisfactorily, because the training imparted during this period will leave its indelible mark on their mind.
Furthermore being a medical practitioner she knew the importance of health and that medical facilities were greatly required by the people. She asked the doctors to provide selfless and dedicated services to the people. She gave importance of setting up of hospitals and health care centers. While inaugurating the Fatima Jinnah Community Health Centre in Lahore in 1962 she said
Maternal and child welfare services are considered a basic public health requirement and the standard of wisdom and civilization in different nations is often judged from the extent to which they provide adequate care and attention to mothers and children.
Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah on Educating Females
She was a great advocate of education for she knew that illiteracy was the root cause of many problems in the society. Most specifically she urged all women to get educated for that would help them develop confidence, self-respect and broadmindedness while also make them resilient. She was against the conventional outlook regarding female education and believed that education instilled energy and vitality. She opened a school for girls on 25th December 1955 in Karachi and donated 1 lac rupees from Quaid-e-Azam’s fund. The name Khatoon-i-Pakistan was suggested, which was accepted by her. This school achieved the status of a college in 1962. While in 1961 she had established Khatoon-i-Pakistan Education and Welfare Board. She also laid the foundation of Fatima Jinnah Medical College for women.
She emphasized on the status given to women by Islam and urged women to realize that. She was of the view that women were needed in many capacities such as social workers, teachers and most importantly doctors and nurses. While inaugurating the Ladies Session of the World Muslim Conference in 1951 at Karachi she said
Economically and educationally we are backward. These are really the two main pillars on which the foundation of the nation is built. Therefore I appeal to you to devote all your energy towards education and economic welfare of your State. Remember, it is the women that can mould the character of the youth of the nation and the responsibility on your shoulders is great and you must be prepared and ready to discharge your duties efficiently and well.
Thus Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah did everything in her capacity, in trying to make Pakistan a country worthy of all the sacrifices that were made in obtaining it, a country that would do honor to its rich historical and cultural background, a country that would by no means lag behind any other! However even today we are struggling to tackle all these issues, but if instill her spirit and enthusiasm in ourselves, we can overcome all our challenges, and that is what she would have wanted us to do.