Increase font size Decrease font size Reset font size

Social worker, educationist Begum Kaniz passes away

By Our Staff Reporter 2021-08-29
KARACHI: Renowned social worker, educationist and civil servant Begum Kaniz Wajid Khan passed away on Saturday after a brief illness. She was 101.

Born on June 24, 1920, Kaniz Wajid Khan`s service to Pakistan has been `varied and ceaseless`.

She worked as administrator of Education Trust Nasra Schools; president, Federation of Business and Professional Women; founder member of All Pakistan Women`s Association (Apwa) in East Pakistan, and later a co-founder of SOS Village Karachi.

She also held the position of chief staff welfare officer in the federal government. In 1969 she received a Tamgha-i-Khidmat and later served as a member of the Majlis-i-Shura under President Ziaul Haq.

In 1939, Kaniz began her lifelong career of social service when she assumed chairpersonship of the Central Indian Red Cross Committee to organise relief work for the war ef fort.

After independence, BegumKaniz Wajid Khan Liaquat Ali Khan asked her to organise the Women`s National Guard in Rajshahi, East Pakistan.

In 1949, Kaniz was among the founding members of Apwa. Later, as international secretary of Apwa, she established the Friends of Apwa wing, which generated muchneeded international exposure and funds for the organisation.

In 1952, under the aegis of theUnited Nations (UN), she organised the first Rural Development Project (RDP) in Malir that included socio-economic programmes such as gardening, poultry farming and handicrafts for women, improved agricultural methodology for men, and health and education initiatives for children.

As a result of the health and education initiative, trachoma, a disease that af flicted 80 per cent of the children, was eradicated.

In 1953, Kaniz worked with another UN programme to train social workers and set up the first Urban Community Project, a community `self-help` programme, in Lyari.

During six months, 20 such programmes were established.

Unknown to Kaniz, this RDP served as a model for UN programmes around the world; years later, on a routine visit to Pakistan, an assistant secretary general of the UN informed Kaniz of this fact.

In 1956, Kaniz participated in a coordination committee to set up the All Pakistan Council for Child Welfare (APCCW), and was electedits first secretary general. During her tenure, APCCW established child welfare committees and opened the first home for abandoned babies.

In 1964, Kaniz joined the government as welfare of ficer. During her tenure, the following were set up for federal government servants: the first Utility Stores, 20 community centres, 16 vocational training centres and industrial homes and three holiday centres for junior government staff.

In 1980, Kaniz was appointed the trustee and administrator of the Education Trust Nasra Schools, which she expanded into the extensive network of low-cost schooling that now houses over 7,500 children.

In 1986, she was involved in establishing the Teachers` Resource Centre and founding the SOS Children`s Village, Karachi.

Her dedicated and selfless work in the field of social welfare was unparalleled. She was a truly noble human being and her compassion for the poor and underprivileged along with her angelic and generous nature will always be remembered.