Former Prime Minister of Pakistan To Speak at Mary Baldwin

September 21, 2006

The first woman in modern times to lead a Muslim nation, Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, will speak at Mary Baldwin University at 5 p.m., October 2 on Page Terrace. This rare opportunity to hear from a world leader is open to the public.

Bhutto was an innate academic and activist, enrolling in Radcliffe College at Harvard at age 16, where she earned a degree in political science. She earned a master’s degree in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University. Just days after she returned to Pakistan following her education, the country’s elected government was overthrown. Her father, Prime Minister Ali Bhutto, was imprisoned and eventually executed. Benazir Bhutto was also repeatedly arrested, then imprisoned, and finally forced into exile.

Although her years as prime minister were turbulent — she was twice ousted from power prematurely by rival political parties — Bhutto was praised for moving swiftly to restore civil liberties and political freedom, which had been suspended under military rule. She made hunger and healthcare top priorities and brought education reform. Bhutto continues to be chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party. She has also fought for women’s social issues in the region, including gender-specific healthcare, and fought against discrimination.

Bhutto is the author of several books, includingForeign Policy in Perspectiveand her autobiography,Daughter of Destiny. She received the Bruno Kreisky Award for Human Rights in 1998.

The Smyth Leadership Lecture is sponsored by H. Gordon and Mary Beth Reed Smyth. The Smyths have long supported education, leadership, culture, and historical preservation in Staunton and beyond. Through the lecture series, the Smyths give Mary Baldwin students and the community privileged access to inspirational female leaders.

The event will be at 5 p.m. on October 2 on Mary Baldwin University’s Page Terrace, in front of Grafton Library, Frederick Street, Staunton. The event is free, open to the public, and interpreted for the hearing impaired. For more information, call (540) 887-7009.