In 1980 Asma Jahangir co-founded AGHS Legal Aid Cell with Hina Jilani, Gul Rukh Rehman and Shella Zia. It was the first all female law firm providing quality legal aid to vulnerable and marginalized groups in Pakistan. In 1987 AGHS Legal Aid Cell was registered as a non-profit society in Pakistan under the Societies Act 1860. AGHS is now the leading non-profit organization that is providing free legal representation to marginalized people and is a frontrunner in constitutional and family related legal work.
AGHS was the first to raise the issue of women and girls being killed in the name of honour and the rights of bonded labourers. Some of AGHS’s Board members and staff have been physically attacked, held hostage, threatened and vilified for promoting women and minority rights. AGHS has been at the forefront of the women’s movement and played a decisive role through street protests against General Zia-ul-Haq’s anti women and minorities legislation, the Hudood Ordinances and the Law of Evidence. The firm also co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and South Asians for Human Rights.
AGHS has had a huge impact in initiating and drafting legal reforms in Pakistan for the promotion of human rights. It has helped change the law through taking up free cases and forming judicial precedents that have changed the lives of thousands. Through its advocacy, media campaigns and fact-finding missions AGHS has helped thousands of women and children who are victims of violence and unfair laws.