Farzana Raja is a former Federal Minister and founding Chairperson of “Benazir Income Support Programme” (BISP), the first ever largest social protection program of Pakistan.
MS Raja is a public policy expert, advocate of Human Rights and Humanity is her passion.
Farzana Raja is also a prolific writer who keeps her interest in writing articles / columns on diverse topics and has contributed for more than a decade in leading English and Urdu newspapers of Pakistan.
In recognition of her righteous services for the nation in general and for the underprivileged, the Government of Pakistan on the occasion of 64th Independence Day of the country conferred on Farzana Raja Hilal-e-Imtiaz, the second highest civilian award of Pakistan (the honor of Crescent of Excellence).
Farzana Raja was also conferred Human Rights Defender Award on International Human Rights Day December 10th, 2010, by the President of Pakistan. The honor was given to her in recognition of her services for the protection of Human Rights, struggle for democracy and efforts for women empowerment.
Farzana Raja is the pioneer of establishing comprehensive social protection program covering more than five million underprivileged families. Program was designed to extend a comprehensive support to each family, which includes, financial assistance, sending children to primary schools, providing vocational training to the youth of the family, women entrepreneur program, health & life insurance and Emergency relief packages to effected families of war on terror and natural disasters. This is state of the art program, providing services under one roof through corporate style working and maintaining transparency as high priority. Under the Leadership of Farzana Raja, program was designed and implemented within a short span of time, which earned recognition worldwide.
Farzana Raja being elected legislator for two terms of ten years in the Parliament (2002-2013), has focused on the issues of less privileged, minorities, youth, children’s primary education, women rights, terrorism victims, extremism in the society and presented solutions as well.
She has been elected as Vice President of the Young Parliamentarians Forum, of the 13th National Assembly of Pakistan, to extend full support to the legislation for the betterment of youth. She was also an active member of the Women Parliamentary Caucus of the National Assembly of Pakistan. MS Raja has been dedicatedly working for the uplift of Pakistani women and deprived segments of the Nation.
Farzana Raja has a long-time association with Pakistan People’s Party since 1994 and has been at the forefront, as a close confidant of Shaheed (Martyred) Benazir Bhutto, for the Party’s struggle for democracy and rights of the underprivileged sections of society. She has always been actively involved in the policy formulation work of the Party, especially in the areas of women empowerment, foreign policy and media relations.
In view of Farzana Raja’s long-lasting commitment to the poor and vulnerable sections of society and her desire to work for their betterment, she was appointed as Chairperson of the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) in 2008. It was the time both exogenous as well as indigenous factors had affected Pakistan’s economy severely. Immediate relief to the common citizen was the biggest challenge facing the government. It was under these tough circumstances that Ms. Farzana Raja took over as the Chairperson of the BISP. In a span of about four years, she transformed BISP into the largest and most credible ever social protection initiative of the country. It was her devotion to the cause of improving the lives of the millions of poor that BISP has managed to reach out to more than 7 million families in the country. Similar welfare initiatives took other countries like Brazil & Mexico almost a decade to achieve. Through her undaunted commitment to the cause, relentless hard work and strong principles, Ms. Farzana Raja evolved a culture of transparency in the disbursement of cash grants amongst the marginalized and the poorest sections of Pakistan.
Minorities were given equal opportunity to receive benefits from BISP, by meeting the criteria like any other Pakistani. BISP was made apolitical program, which enhanced the credibility and believability, resulting into smooth functioning on fast pace.
Ms. Farzana Raja personally visited all corners of the country, from small villages and refugee camps to the big cities to meet people to get their direct feedback and to create a personal human connection, to give hope for better future, to truly deserving and marginalized families.
This commitment, dedication and resolve of Ms. Raja has won accolades for BISP worldwide. In a meeting with Ms. Farzana Raja, the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban ki-Moon called BISP “a model for other developing nations. Among other dignitaries of the world, the World Bank President, the US Secretary of State, the President of Asian Development Bank, President CSIS, Washington DC, the UN Special Envoy on Global Education, UN Assistant Secretary General and Assistant Administrator, UNDP acknowledged the transparency, objectivity and technology-based operations of BISP.
President of Pakistan, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari has conferred on the Federal Minister and Chairperson, BISP Farzana Raja the honor of Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Crescent of Excellence) on her Struggle, Service and Success
Federal Minister/Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme Farzana Raja receiving Gold Medal, 'Human Rights Defender Award'
by President of Pakistan
Mr. Asif All Zardari
in recognition of her services for the protection of human rights, struggle for democracy and untiring efforts for poverty alleviation