Asma Jahangir is a Pakistani human rights lawyer who served two terms as chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and was the first woman president of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. She has fought to defend the human rights of women, religious minorities and laborers in Pakistan for over 40 years, both in and out of the courtroom. On the international level, Jahangir has served as U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (1998-2004) and U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief for the U.N. Human Rights Council (2004-2010).
Jahangir was a leading figure in the campaign to reform the controversial Hudood Ordinance, religious-based laws that, among other things, allowed rape victims to be charged with adultery if they did not have four Muslim male witnesses to the rape. The campaign was partially successful when the 27-year-old Ordinance was reformed in 2006.
Jahangir has received the Ramon Magsaysay Award (often described as Asia’s Nobel Prize), the UNIFEM Millennium Peace Prize, the Freedom of Worship Medal, the Hilal-i-Imtiaz (one of the highest civilian awards in Pakistan) and the 2010 UNESCO Bilbao Prize, among others. She was also one of the 1,000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.