Countrywomen Rate Bhutto's Feminist Legacy

Ex-PM advanced women's rights; but not as much as hoped
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Jan 20, 2008 1:00 PM CST
Pakistani women light candle during a Christian memorial service for assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto Sunday Jan. 6, 2008 in Lahore, Pakistan. Bhutto's widowed husband implicated members...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Benazir Bhutto wasn't always a staunch defender of women's rights, but for Pakistani women the fight for gender equality is a lot tougher now that she's gone. Bhutto may have jump-started women's health care and job programs, but she missed opportunities to repeal harsh anti-egalitarian laws—failures her defenders chalk up to the demands of political compromise. "She walked the walk," said one. "We just expected her to walk more."

The assassinated former PM's contributions to women's rights were "cosmetic," one critic told the Los Angeles Times. But Bhutto was up against warlords and conservative mullahs, and a culture that still imprisons women for adultery when they report rape. Her mere presence was enough to challenge claims that women belong at home: "She emboldened all of us," said one woman. (Read more Benazir Bhutto stories.)