GILGIT: Sobia Jabeen Muqaddam first ever female minister in the cabinet of Gilgit Baltistan.
Sobia Muqaddum, the 33-year-old, who is the only female minister to be appointed to Gilgit-Baltistan cabinet, comes from Diamer. Appointed as the Minister of Women Development she is one of the six women in the 33-member legislative assembly.
Nonetheless, coming from a region where the literacy rate for women remains appallingly low along with cultural barriers preventing women from voting. Despite these obstacles, she has risen as the first female minister from Diamer Valley in the newly elected G-B government.
Sobia was born in Jhelum and moved to Diamer when she got married in 2007. Regardless of this she is well aware of the problems faced by women in the region while being committed to bringing a positive change. “I will focus on education first and then prioritise health,” she said.
“New measures need to be introduced to ease the plight of women, Customs and taboos need to be overcome. During the five years of our tenure, I want to see schools and hospitals for women. I will personally reach out to all women in the region and urge them to bring change. By the end of our tenure, I want to see the position of women improve in the region. That’s my dream,” she says.
During her tenure she is determined to construct new school buildings while employing more women teachers and persuading parents to send their daughters to school.
According to a recent report released by UNICEF, cultural barriers have negatively impacted education of women in Diamer. Consequently, only four girls out of an estimated population of over 250,000 in Diamer attend middle school. Gender bias is an acute issue particularly in Diamer and Skardu.