Director General at the Chief Minister’s Strategic Reforms Unit, Punjab Province, Pakistan
Salman Sufi is the driving force behind some of Pakistan’s most progressive gender equality initiatives. In the last three years, he has introduced over 30 historic reforms, including the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act 2016, the first comprehensive legislation of its kind ever passed in Pakistan.
“In the conservative Pakistani society, women experience the world differently,” says Sufi. Even in the face of resistance, Sufi fiercely defends gender equality in line with Punjab Chief Minister’s vision. Sufi’s championed initiatives include establishment of Punjab Women Protection Authority, the introduction of women’s rights in school curriculum and launch of Women-on-Wheels initiative; he wants to engage young people and encourage them to question gender roles, attitudes and beliefs.
As part of the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act, Sufi established a survivor service model that’s gained international attention – Violence Against Women Centers (VAWC). The Centers are one-stop shops that offer first aid, medical and forensic assistance, police reporting and investigation, legal aid and post-trauma rehabilitation. This progressive model is now seen as a blueprint for not only South Asia but other regions of the world to follow.
According to Sufi, “VAWC must not be looked at as a building, but rather a statement from Pakistan to its women that violence is no longer acceptable. Our women’s lives shall no longer be outlined by the atrocities committed against them, but through their achievements as empowered and equal citizens of Pakistan.”