In a remarkable feat, Heer Soho, daughter of former tribal leader Ismail Soho, will become the first female Sardar of a tribe in Sindh.
The past few days have been a very exciting time for Soho, as news spread that she had been elected as the first female tribal chief of Pakistan, an honor that comes with great responsibility, but one that also comes with immense pride.
Having her appointed as chief comes with the support of the Soho community. This will break the cycle of oppression and set a new tradition for women amongst the Soho tribe as well as other tribal communities. She will become the chief of the Soho clan after Eid in a formal ceremony and may even get to wear the dastaar.
Soho has a longstanding political career under her belt. She entered politics in the early 2000s and was elected councilor in the 2001 local bodies elections. Since then, she has gone on to become an MPA four times on reserved seats. She was first elected as a member of the Sindh Assembly from the MQM in 2002. But later in 2018, she joined the Pakistan Peoples Party and has been an active member ever since.
Women face considerable barriers and lack agency across the country, particularly in tribal communities. This is evident by the high rate of honor killings in Sindh and other areas of the country.
Aiming to prove that women can lead
Women in tribal and rural areas will now see a new way and be encouraged to get an education through Soho’s feat. With a female chieftain at the helm, the entire community will move in a more progressive direction as their concerns will be heard more effectively.
It has been found that women are more empathetic and score higher on leadership skills than men. Case in point, Soho’s political savvy will be helpful when tackling the community’s bigger issues, such as a lack of drinking water and agricultural water resources. In addition, focus on the more sensitive issues such as child marriages, honor killings, and improving women’s access to healthcare and education.
Considering that a large proportion of Pakistani women live in rural areas of which many are members of tribal clans, there is an increased likelihood of women being chosen as chieftains in the future.
Soho’s position as a tribal Sardar will set a new precedent for women in leadership positions and help promote female representation in Pakistan’s political sphere. The empowerment of women and the progress of society as a whole is a monumental step forward.
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