WAF — the beginning
First meeting: September 16, 1981, held at the Shirkatgah office, Karachi.
Attendees: Zohra Yusuf, Hilda Saeed, the late Najma Babar, Tehmina Ahmed, Kausar S. Khan, Fareeda Shaheed, Ghazala Rehman, Humaira Rehman, Aban Marker, Mumtaz Noorani, Najma Sadeque, Tehmina Ahmed, Sheema Kermani, among others.
Organisations which endorsed its charter: Tehrik-i-Niswan, Democratic Women Association, Shirkatgah, APWA, Pakistan Women Lawyers Association and later on Sindiani Tehrik.
The Lahore chapter: Formed in October, 1981.
Rawalpindi/Islamabad chapter: Formed in November,1981.
First convention: Held in Lahore, 1982 where it was decided to convert WAF into an organisation in order to delegate responsibilities.
The name: According to a veteran activist, “We deliberated on many names and in the end opted for ‘forum’ because it was supposed to be a platform where likeminded individuals and organisations could come forward and share their ideas. The word ‘action’ was deliberated at length as we didn’t want to be seen as a social welfare organisation; rather we were interested in political activism and mobilisation.”
Key moment: February 12, 1983, when WAF in collaboration with Pakistan Women Lawyers’ Association held a public rally against the Law of Evidence in Lahore which was brutally disbursed by the police. After this atrocious onslaught, student and trade unions and political activists joined the struggle against the distortion of the social order. And WAF emerged as a vanguard of the democratic movement.