Islamabad: The International Women’s Day is celebrated every year across the world on March 8 and this year marks the 101th anniversary of this day. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back to past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.
The global theme for International Women Day for 2012 is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures” whereas the national theme for International Women Day for 2012 is “Legislations for Protecting Women’s Rights”.
Keeping in view the historic legislations passed by the present parliament for the protection and promotion of women rights, I would say, the national theme for this year’s International Women Day could not have been more befitting.
Whether it is ‘Prevention of anti-Women Practices Act, 2008’ or ‘Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act, 2011’ or ‘Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2010’ or ‘Women’s Commission Bill, 2012’ or ‘Domestic Violence (Protection and Prevention) Bill, 2012’, each of these legislative measures has touched upon those problem areas which had long been hindrances in the way of women’s self-realization and their self-actualization.
It is simply unimaginable for any country to grow without vibrant and equal participation of women in its economic, social and political life. Without attending to 49% of Pakistani women’s potential, the dream of self-sufficiency will remain, but only a dream. Our religion, Islam, has also been a great proponent of women rights but, much to our chagrin, it has been misused and misinterpreted to deny equal access to womenfolk in all walks of life.
Our great leader Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed was also a great votary of women’s economic empowerment as she was well aware that in economic empowerment of women lies their true emancipation and empowerment. She deserves special place in the annals of women struggle for emancipation because she destroyed the myth built by the social taboo that the woman’s place is in the house that it is shameful or dishonourable or socially unacceptable for a Muslim woman to work.
In line with the vision of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, the present PPP government has made considerable strides in the realm of women’s social, political and economic empowerment. Parliamentary enactments have been made to curb brutal customs like vani and Swara and heinous crimes like acid-throwing. In order to provide the working women with an enabling environment, a separate law against harassment at workplace has been passed.
National Commission on Women has been given financial and administrative autonomy, which will definitely be of great help for it to play its role more vigorously for the betterment of Pakistani women.10 % quota has been fixed for women in all federal jobs. Women have been given top political, administrative and educational appointments to enhance their representation at the policy-making levels.
I have no doubt in my mind that women’s condition in the country has changed but it has not taken the best possible shape as yet. The path to women empowerment is still strewn with hindrances like 100 % girl literacy, technical and vocational training, stereotyping, lower wages, glass-ceiling etc. Laws have been framed but their implementation remains an abidingly daunting challenge. Governmental bodies, civil society organizations and all the societal stake-holders have to work hand in hand for the attainment of this challenging task.
I want to take this opportunity to assure that from now onwards, in collaboration with all stake-holders, part of my efforts will be directed towards addressing the issues of domestic violence and home-based workers through awareness and by bringing in legislative enactments on these areas.
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