Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto was born in 1953 to a political family: her father was the former premier of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in comparative government, followed by a degree in international law and diplomacy. Afterwards, she returned to Pakistan where a military coup had just taken place, as a result she was placed under house arrest. In 1978 her father was hanged after being found guilty of sanctioning the murder of a political opponent.

While living in exile in Britain she became the joint leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). She returned to Pakistan in 1986 to campaign for open elections. Reportedly the eight mile journey from the airport to a rally site in Lahore took over nine hours due to the sheer n the number of people lining the streets to show their support to her. At the time Pakistan was under the control of the dictator Zia ul-Haq, he however was killed in a plane crash in 1988. On the first of December 1988 she became the first female Prime Minster of a Muslim country.

She was Prime Minister until 1990 when she was defeated in the elections. She faced charges of corruption while in office, but despite this remained leader of the party and was opposition leader for the next few years. She was re-elected as Prime Minister in 1993. During her second term she introduced a number of initiatives aimed at helping women. One of these was the Benazir Income Support Program which gave money to low income families. The money was deposited directly into the bank account of the woman in the family which gave them some sort of independence. She also ran a number of campaigns aimed at encouraging girls to stay in education.

Throughout her second term as Prime Minister she faced further charges of corruption and was ultimately replaced in 1996. She acted as leader of the opposition despite living in exile in Dubai. She received amnesty in 2007 on all charges and returned to Pakistan. She immediately began work on gaining re-election. She was at an election rally when she was assassinated; 28 other people were also killed.

Benazir Bhutto was not only an important figure for women in Pakistan but women all over the world. She blazed a trail for many Muslim women to not only further their education but also to get involved in politics.

-Michelle O’Brien
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

Pin It on Pinterest