22 January: Remembering Perween Rahman on Birthday
Image Courtesy: Google Doodle
Perween Rahman (22 January 1957 – 13 March 2013) was a Pakistani social activist, and director of the Orangi Pilot Project Research and Training Institute. She was the founder and director of the Orangi Pilot Project-Research and Training Institute (OPP-RTI) in Karachi, Pakistan, which focused on providing low-cost housing and sanitation solutions for the city’s informal settlements.
She was murdered on 13 March 2013.
Life and Career
Perween Rahman was born on 22 January 1957, in Dhaka, then situated in East Pakistan. She belonged to a Bihari family which moved to Karachi following the civil war in East Pakistan in 1971. She obtained a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1982 from the Dawood College of Engineering and Technology, and a postgraduate diploma in housing, building and urban planning in 1986 from the Institute of Housing Studies in Rotterdam, Netherlands. She worked at a private architecture firm before being recruited by Akhter Hameed Khan to become joint director of the Orangi Pilot Project in 1983, where she managed the housing and sanitation programs.
Rahman’s work was focused on improving the lives of residents of informal settlements, often working with residents to develop solutions that were tailored to their specific needs and circumstances. She was a strong advocate for community-based planning and was committed to empowering residents to take control of their own development.
Throughout her career, Rahman worked on a wide range of projects, including housing, sanitation, and community development. She also served as a consultant to international organizations such as UN-Habitat and the World Bank.
Unfortunately, Perween Rahman was shot dead on 13 March 2013, on her way back from her office in Karachi. Her death was a great loss for the community development and urban planning field, but her legacy continues to live on through the work of the OPP-RTI and the countless people whose lives she touched.
Award and Legacy
Perween Rahman received numerous awards and recognition for her work in urban development and community-based planning. Some of her notable awards include:
- The Aga Khan Award for Architecture for her work on the Orangi Pilot Project in 1996
- The Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, one of Pakistan’s highest civilian honors, for her services in the field of urban development and housing in 2009
- The Hilal-e-Imtiaz, another of Pakistan’s highest civilian honors for her services in the field of urban development and housing in 2013.
Her legacy continues to live on through the work of the Orangi Pilot Project-Research and Training Institute (OPP-RTI) which she founded and directed. The institute continues to provide low-cost housing and sanitation solutions for the city’s informal settlements, empowering the community and impacting positively the lives of thousands of people in Karachi.
Her approach to community-based planning and empowering residents to take control of their own development has been widely recognized as an effective way of addressing the challenges faced by informal settlements. Her work has been an inspiration to many urban planners and development practitioners around the world.
On 22 January 2022, Google Doodle celebrated Perween Rahman’s 65th birthday.