‘An Engaging Inspiring Peaceful Calm and a High Caliber Event’ by Harinder Dhahan

End of the 3rd Sequence – Sunera Thobani, Surjeet Kalsey, Deanna Reder, Harsha Walia, Darshan Mann – with Hina Imam, Sameena Siddisui, Sana Janjua, Hafsah Durrani – photo by Sophia Eugeni

Celebration of Pakistani & Local Women Heroes

‘I along with my brother, sister, daughter and a niece were privileged to attend the Celebration of Pakistani & Local Women Heroes. It was an eyeopener to watch and realize how much adversity and hardship women go through to fight for their own and others’ rights. They take and are still taking daring steps to bring justice and equality. The women heroes advocated in diverse ways – through protests, dance/artistic performances, writing/publishing and providing safe spaces for women to express themselves.

‘The celebration was well organized with creativity, thoughtfulness, love and respect for all. The women who took the initiative to recognize, honour and celebrate the work being done by the women heroes are already walking in the footsteps of those great women fighters in order to continue their work. The presenters conducted this program in such a way by which they got the audience fully engaged. For example, when the presenters would light the candles, take off their flowers and attach them to the wreath after each segment, it gave the audience time to let the stories resonate and be an integral part of the whole program. All the participants/speakers were welcomed to the stage with genuine and sincere respect.

‘Just as the heroes’ work needs to continue, these events should continue to reach a wider audience in order to bring awareness about what’s happening in the women’s world and how women are trying to reach out by putting their own lives in danger.

‘All the organizers and helpers may have put in countless hours, effort and collective energy to produce such an engaging, inspirational, peaceful, calm and a high clibre event. I would like to commend the excellent work you have done. All the best in your future endeavors.’

View our objectives and goals.

Women Who Named the Unnamed is a project of
Surrey muse Arts Society (SMAS)

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.


Pakistan’s Women Heroes : Madeeha Gauhar

Women who Named the Unnamed
Tribute to the Brilliance

Madeeha Gauhar (1956-2018)
theatre director/producer/actor

By Hina Imam & Saroop Soofi

She did not just swim against the tide, she turned the tide.

Born in 1956 in Karachi, Madeeha Gauhar was an actor, director, playwright and women’s rights activist who co-founded Ajoka (present day) Theatre. She studied English Literature from Kinnaird College Lahore, and later went to England to pursue a degree in theatre sciences from University College London.

Madeeha created platforms for human rights activism at a time when General Zia-ul-Haq’s oppressive, dictatorial regime had blocked all avenues for political expression in Pakistan. In 1983, she began Ajoka Theatre with her partner playwright/director/actor Shahid Mahmood Nadeem (quoted above), where she combined conventional Western theatre techniques with local performing traditions and cultural nuances to produce her work. The group began operating out of the homes of its members, using money raised from personal contributions and donations by activists, supporters and audiences. Soon, it built up a reputation for taking up bold and topical themes, including the eroding rights of women, the plight of bonded labor, minorities facing an assault on their rights, and religious intolerance that had been given official patronage.

With censorship in force, Madeeha and her band lived with the fear of arrest, and worse, she had to quit her job as lecturer at a girl’s college because her theater activism was intolerable to the regime. She was also briefly jailed for demonstrating, along with other women activists, against the discriminatory Law of Evidence in 1984.

Ajoka, mainly operating in Urdu language, became one of Pakistan’s foremost theater groups with 40 original plays and adaptations to its credit. The list includes Bullah (on Punjabi Sufi poet Bulleh Shah) first performed in Lahore in 2001, Kaun Hai Yeh Gustaakh (Who is this Arrogant?) Lahore 2012, Lo Phir Basant Aayi (Spring is here again) Lahore 2014, and, Kaun Banega Badshah (Who will become the King?) Islamabad in 2015. Madeeha’s play ‘Burqavaganza’, a satire on the society, was banned by Pakistan’s parliament and Ajoka was threatened with sanctions. The local non-governmental cultural organisations and activist, however, went ahead, translated it in other languages, and it was performed in several other countries.

Madeeha was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, was awarded Prince Claus Award in the Netherlands in 2006, the International Theatre Pasta Award in 2007, and she received the country’s highest award, Pride of Performance for the revival of Pakistani theatre.

Madeeha lost her battle with cancer in April 2018.

Hina Imam is a journalist living in Vancouver who previously worked in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan before moving to Canada to pursue a master’s degree at UBC. Hina writes about social justice, race and representation, gender, and urban issues.

Saroop Soofi is a visual artist, researcher and an art educationist born in Lahore, Pakistan. She has exhibited her work in solo and group shows in Canada and Pakistan where she has received awards and distinctions.


Women Who Named the Unnamed
Pakistan’s & Local Women Heroes

Saturday, September 28, 2019
6 – 9 PM
Centre Stage
Surrey City Hall
13450 – 104 Avenue
Surrey, BC, Canada V3T 1V8
Phone: 604-591-4011

Buy your ticket online at this link:
Tickets $25
Box Office : 604-501-5566

More information
View our objectives and goals.

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.