“For me, the cause of women is God’s most noble cause, the cause of justice, equality, and life.”
This is what Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto professed, believed in and struggled to achieve. A woman of substance – she was applauded, praised and acclaimed the world over for her heroic determinations to empower women.
Her vision encompassed a nation where women are empowered with words, with laws, with awareness, with economic opportunities and with role models.
Bearing the honor of being the first woman Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Islamic world her realm of prosperity and victory enfolded a nation where women are free from the shackles of gender constraints; where women have the power to dream and to live with dignity.
In her own words, that truly enliven the hopes of many dying hearts; Bhutto defined women empowerment as “the right to be independent; to be educated; to have choices in life. Empowerment is the right to have the opportunity to select a productive career; to own property; to participate in business; to flourish in the market place. We must shape a world free from exploitation and maltreatment of women. A world in which women have opportunities to rise to the highest level in politics, business, diplomacy, and other spheres of life.”
This is the country Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto dared to dream, a country who would rejoice at the birth of a girl child, a country where no rape victims would commit suicide, a country where women would go freely to study and work. AND above all a country that would roar louder than ever at slightest injustice to women.
Being an exemplary daughter herself, she became the shield of abused daughters of the entire nation by giving them hope that encouraged them to report abuse, speak for their rights and denounce cruelty.
Being an exceptional mother, her voice reverberated united with all the mothers to curb the turmoil and dangerous instability they face in the name of honour killing.
Sensitive to the needs of women of Pakistan, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto fought tenaciously against prejudice and indiscrimination.
Adopting an aggressive stance, the tenure of her government sowed countless potent seeds to bear fruits of women empowerment and those that continued to influence the coming generations:
The setting up of the women’s bank – the first of its kind, run only by women for women.
The appointment of women judges to the superior judiciary for the first time in our history.
The establishment of women’s police stations where women in distress could visit with confidence.
The lift ban on women taking part in sports.
The hosting of Women’s Olympics.
Creation of human rights and women development ministry in the centre and provinces to specifically focus towards women empowerment.
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto pressed the global leaders to tackle health issues including increased nutrition and immunizations to ensure health of women. She advocated the protection of women from domestic violence and war. And she connected the need for education of girls and women to their ability to work, and a woman’s ability to work as essential to achieving economic independence.
During her two terms as Prime Minister, she criticized female infanticide and misogynist interpretations of Islam. She dreamed of a cosmopolitan, cultured, progressive and friendly country that would work towards the uplifting of women.
She lived to let others live. She strove to give hope and she envisioned the unseen. As a role model for all the women of Pakistan and across the world, her courage outshined and lit the path to shape the future of women of Pakistan.
June 21st 2014 marks the 61st birthday of Shaheed Rani and let her words illustrate her undying cause:
“If you believe in something, go for it, but know that when you go for it there’s a price to be paid. Be ready to pay that price and you can contribute to the welfare of society, and society will acknowledge you and respect you for it. And don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid.”
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