For the past 36 years, Anis Haroon (born 1946) has made a major contribution to raising levels of awareness on women's rights and other social issues through her work as a journalist and social activist. Currently resident director of the Aurat Foundation for the Sindh province, she mainly works out of Karachi, but reaches out to thousands of ordinary people across Pakistan through her articles and radio programs.
Anis Haroon began her career as a political activist early. In 1956, as a ten-year-old student, she participated in a youth demonstration in Karachi against the occupation of the Suez Canal by the USA, the UK, and France. As a young woman, she became active in the students' movement in the mid-1960s against dictator Ayub Khan. Driven by a continuing need to contribute to the debate on social issues in Pakistan, Anis entered journalism in Pakistan in 1970 armed with degrees in law and international relations from Karachi University. She worked as an assistant editor for Akhbar-e-Khawateen, a large-circulation women's magazine. She was also a reporter and feature writer for the daily The Leader. Anis clashed with the newspaper's management over the plans of the martial law regime to hang ousted prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. In the 1980s, she decided to work as a freelance print, radio, and television journalist on social issues. She writes on women's issues in Urdu and English newspapers. She is one of the founder-members of the Women's Action Forum (WAF), which was set up to address the antiwomen policies of Zia-ul-Haq's martial law regime. Anis has been associated with leading women's rights and human rights organizations-the Applied Socioeconomic Research Foundation and Resource Center, the South Asia Partnership, and the Aurat Foundation, which works for women's empowerment in concert with a nationwide network of citizen's groups. In 1995, in the wake of a mini-insurgency in the Sindh's major cities by militants from the Mohajir Qaumi Movement, the State retaliated with unprecedented violence. The WAF brought a group of women together from different political and ethnic backgrounds, pushing for peace. In 2000, Anis compiled a book, Dard Ke Rishtay (which means relations of pain), based on true stories of violence-affected women.