Google Doodle on Saturday honoured Pakistani social activist, architect, and urban planner Perween Rahman on her 65th birth anniversary. Rahman, according to a statement by Google, devoted her life to uplifting marginalised communities.
Perween Rahman was born on Jan 22, 1957 in Dhaka, Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and relocated with her family to Karachi in 1971. She studied architecture and went on to earn her master’s in housing, building, and urban planning from the Institute of Housing Studies in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Rahman’s personal experiences of displacement inspired her to pursue a career advocating for housing security, and in 1982, she began working as an unpaid intern for the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP).
This organization focused on sanitation, housing, and healthcare in Orangi Town on the outskirts of Karachi, one of the world’s largest informal settlements. Here, many residents could not rely on legal protection to maintain rights to their homes and were frequently evicted for construction projects.
From meticulously documenting property boundaries and ownership information to spearheading education and community engagement initiatives, Rahman’s work soon became integral in protecting the region’s precarious community.
Rahman’s dedication to helping Orangi Town’s 1.5 million residents protect their land rights led to her appointment as head of the OPP’s housing and sanitation programs. With Rahman at the helm, the OPP partnered with the government to set up 650 private schools, 700 medical clinics, and 40,000 small businesses.
She has been given numerous accolades for her achievements, notably the Sitara-e-Shujaat (Order of Bravery award), and her efforts have played an instrumental role in defining how Pakistani settlements are developed today.
Parween Rahman was gunned down near her office in Orangi Town on March 13, 2013 and joint interrogation teams (JITs) that probed her murder found roles of militant and political groups behind her murder.