Women hold up half of the sky. In a historic twist of fate, the winds of change have swept through the corridors of power in Pakistan. On February 26, 2024, Maryam Nawaz shattered the glass ceiling and emerged as the first woman to assume the role of Chief Minister in Punjab, the country’s most populous province. Against a backdrop of political turmoil and societal skepticism, she has risen like a phoenix, embodying the essence of women’s empowerment in a nation where politics has long been a male-dominated arena. 

Maryam Nawaz’s journey to this unprecedented milestone was anything but easy. For over a decade, she navigated the turbulent waters of Pakistani politics, battling not only the opposition but also the entrenched patriarchy within her own party. “As this has been a very male-dominated party historically, I also had to work quite hard for 12-13 years to make space for myself,” Maryam candidly remarked in her first address as Chief Minister. Facing down adversities that would deter even the boldest of souls, including unjust imprisonment, Maryam emerged from the depths with a spirit unbroken and a resolve unyielding. She gracefully acknowledged her opponents, recognizing their unwitting role in forging her into the formidable leader she is today.

As she stepped into her role, Maryam’s words echoed with courage and conviction. “There will be no vendetta against anyone,” she declared, a testament to her unwavering commitment to fairness and justice. But it was her unwavering stance against corruption that truly set her apart. With a steely determination, Maryam vowed “zero tolerance” for corruption, pledging to usher in a new era of governance characterized by efficiency, transparency, and accountability.

In her bold and visionary journey, Maryam Nawaz embarked on a transformative mission to reshape the landscape for women in Punjab. With an unwavering dedication to their safety and empowerment, she became a beacon of hope and progress in a society where women’s rights have often been overlooked.

At the forefront of her agenda was the safety and security of women, a fundamental pillar of her vision for a more equitable society. This commitment was vividly demonstrated through the groundbreaking launch of the first-ever Women’s Virtual Police Station. This innovative platform provided a lifeline for women navigating the complexities of addressing crimes, offering guidance and support from FIR registration to trial. In tandem with this initiative, the installation of 100 modern emergency panic buttons across Lahore underscored Maryam’s determination to create a secure environment where every woman felt protected. Turning her attention to the realm of sports, where women had long been marginalized, Maryam introduced the revolutionary Pink Games. Orchestrated by the Directorate General of Sports & Youth Affairs Punjab, this pioneering initiative aimed to break down barriers and elevate women’s participation in sports across the province. With approximately 1,300 female athletes from 20 universities participating, the Pink Games symbolized a significant stride towards gender inclusivity and empowerment.

Recognizing the inherent link between mobility and independence, Maryam spearheaded initiatives to provide women with greater access to transportation. The introduction of electric bikes for female students was a testament to her commitment to liberating women from the confines of dependence, enabling them to navigate the world with newfound freedom. Furthermore, her efforts to design women’s jails as safe and secure spaces reflected her dedication to ensuring the well-being of women at every level of society.

In a move to further empower women and enhance their autonomy, Maryam championed the establishment of women’s driving schools across Punjab. These schools not only provided women with the necessary skills to navigate the roads confidently but also served as a symbol of their newfound independence and agency. Underpinning these transformative initiatives was the 1st Chief Minister Skills Development Programme, a testament to Maryam’s commitment to equipping young girls and boys with the tools they need to thrive in an ever-changing world. Through this program, countless opportunities were made available for individuals to acquire essential skills across a diverse range of educational sectors.

In every endeavor, Maryam Nawaz’s unwavering commitment to women’s empowerment shone through, cementing her legacy as a leader who not only dreams of a better future but actively works to bring it to fruition. As Punjab’s first female Chief Minister, Maryam Nawaz has become a symbol of hope and progress, inspiring generations to come with her vision of a more inclusive and equitable society. In every word and action, Maryam Nawaz embodies the essence of exemplary leadership. With courage as her compass and compassion as her guide, she stands poised to launch initiatives that will transform Punjab and inspire generations to come. Her ascension to this pivotal role is more than a personal victory; it is a beacon of hope for countless women across Pakistan. It symbolizes the breaking of long-standing chains of gender inequality and heralds a new dawn where women can dream big and achieve the impossible. Maryam Nawaz’s story is not just about political triumph; it’s about inspiring a generation to believe that change is not only possible but within reach.


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