Hina Jilani

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Jilani speaking at Women Deliver in 2016.

Hina Jilani (Urdu: حنا جیلانی؛ born 19 December 1953[1]) is a lawyer on the Supreme Court of Pakistan and a human rights activist from Lahore, Punjab. She is the co-founder of Pakistan's first all-women law firm, Pakistan's first legal aid centre, and the Women's Action Forum.

Early life and education[edit]

Jilani was born and raised in Pakistan. She started practising law in 1979, while Pakistan was under martial law.


In February 1980, with her sister Asma Jahangir, Jilani co-founded Pakistan's first all-female legal aid practice, AGHS Legal Aid Cell (ALAC) in Lahore. Initially, its activities were confined to providing legal aid to women, but these activities gradually increased to include legal education, protection from exploitation, legal research, and counselling. She is also one of the founders of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan as well as the Women's Action Forum (WAF), an advocacy group established in 1980 to campaign against discriminatory legislation. Jilani also founded Pakistan's first legal aid centre in 1986.[2] In addition to providing pro bono legal aid, she helped set up a women's shelter called Dastak in 1991.[3] In addition to managing the shelter, Dastak organises workshops to raise awareness for human rights and the protection of women.[4]

Jilani is also affiliated with the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Carter Center, and the UN Conference on Women.[5] In 2019, the UK Foreign Office appointed her to a panel of experts to develop legal frameworks to protect freedom of the press across the globe.[6]

Roles at the United Nations[edit]

From 2000 to 2008, Jilani was the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders.[7] During that period, she was also appointed to the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur in 2006.

In 2009, Jilani was appointed to the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.[8]

In 2017, Jilani co-chaired (alongside Tarja Halonen) the World Health Organization/Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights High-Level Working Group on the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children, and Adolescents.[9]


As a result of their women's activism, Jilani and her sister Asma Jahangir have been arrested, received death threats, and faced intimidation and public abuse. Murder attempts have been made on them as well as members of their family.[10] In 1999, after working on the case of Samia Sarwar, Jilani and Jahangir were again subject to death threats. Sarwar's mother came with a gunman to her office on the pretext of seeking reconciliation with her daughter. The gunman shot Sarwar dead and fired at Jilani, who managed to escape.[11][12] On another occasion, gunmen entered her house and threatened members of her family. Jilani herself was away from home; the threats put pressure on her to migrate, but she continues to live and work in Lahore.[13][14]




  1. ^ Profile of Hina Jilani
  2. ^ "Interview with Hina Jilani". Asia Society. Retrieved 21 December 2023.
  3. ^ "Documentary: Against my will". Archived from the original on 27 April 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  4. ^ "Dastak holds workshop on care, treatment of women in distress". Daily Times. 19 June 2009. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011.
  5. ^ "Who's Who: Hina Jilani". SAWNET. Archived from the original on 20 June 2010.
  6. ^ Sonwalkar, Prasun (16 July 2019). "Indian lawyer Karuna Nundy on UK panel for new media framework". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  7. ^ "Meet the featured human rights defenders – Hina Jilani", Carter Center, February 2009.
  8. ^ "War crimes in Gaza". ABC listen. 16 September 2009. Retrieved 21 December 2023.
  9. ^ World Health Organization (2017). Leading the realization of human rights to health and through health: report of the High-Level working group on the health and human rights of women, children and adolescents. Geneva: World Health Organization. ISBN 978-92-4-151245-9.
  10. ^ "Asma Jahangir and Hina Jilani". EuropaWorld. 9 March 2001. Archived from the original on 25 October 2009.
  11. ^ Kazmi, Laila (2008). "Women of Pakistan - Asma Jahangir". Jazbah Magazine. Archived from the original on 29 March 2010.
  12. ^ "Hina Jilani". ABC listen. 7 April 2008. Retrieved 21 December 2023.
  13. ^ "Hina Jilani – Pakistan". World People's Blog. 17 August 2006. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  14. ^ "Hina Jilani visits EHRAC". London Metropolitan University. Archived from the original on 9 June 2011.
  15. ^ "The Ginetta Sagan Award". Amnesty International USA. Retrieved 21 December 2023.
  16. ^ "The Lawyer Awards 2010". The Lawyer Group. Archived from the original on 30 January 2010.
  17. ^ "Law Society nominee wins award for human rights work". The Law Society International Division. 27 June 2008. Archived from the original on 22 January 2011.
  18. ^ "Honorary Degrees 2015-16". Trinity College Dublin. Retrieved 7 January 2020.