Political parties, civil society unite for empowering women

* International Women’s Day marked with seminars, rallies and conferences, all stressing need for educating women for country’s development
Political parties, civil society unite for empowering women

LAHORE: Creating awareness about women empowerment, the International Women’s Day was observed across the country on Saturday to pay tribute women and raise voice for their rights.
Political parties, NGOs and the civil society held rallies, seminars, conferences and walks in the city, highlighting domestic violence and the problems women face while acquiring education – a fundamental right but denied to most daughters of this country. 
The participants said that middle-class women were working on low wages due to domestic problems and landlords take benefit of this situation and a big reason was behind it was lack of education. They also said that awareness among the women would have to be created for their rights.
The United Nations started celebrating International Women’s Day on 8 March in 1975. Further after the two years the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions. 
A seminar was also organised by the South Asian Women in Media (SAWM) at SAFMA secretariat. Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan Lars Gunnar Wigemark, human rights activist Justice (r) Nasira Javed Iqbal, SAFMA General Secretary Imtiaz Alam, Shahpara Saleem, Iram Zia and Fareeda Batool expressed their views on the occasion.
Lars Gunnar Wigemark said that women of Pakistan had played a positive role for the development of the country but there was a need to do more. He also said that thousands of women in Pakistan had been disenfranchised because they did not have identity cards, adding that there was a need to give them the right to vote. 
He also said that Pakistani women were playing an active role in the legal, teaching and journalism professions.
He further said that Pakistani women have made great advances, but there is still a long way to go to achieve a world free from gender-based discrimination. Equal access to education and health services and the chance to become a full participant in political life is everyone’s right and an essential ingredient of democracy. Long-term stability and development can only be achieved if violence and discrimination against women are addressed. 
Speaking on the occasion, Justice (r) Nasira Javed Iqbal said that there should be no dialogue with the Taliban because their version of religion was not acceptable to Pakistan as well as the world. “We must meet the challenges of today’s world,” said Justice (r) Nasira, who has waged a long struggle for raising a voice for women’s rights and recognition.
Supporting peaceful struggle for rights in society, she observed that Pakistan was not achieved through war or jihad; rather it was the fruit of a long political struggle. She urged the women to actively cast their vote and participate in the coming local bodies election. “Every day can be seen as women’s day as they are active co-workers who struggle to raise families, and work for the betterment of their children at high costs,” she noted.
Separately, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Punjab held seminar in local hotel on the eve of International Women’s Day. Senior Member PTI Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, PTI provincial Secretary Dr Yasmeen Rashid, PTI Punjab President Ijaz Chaudhry, Andleeb Abbas and large number of PTI women’s were also present. 
Khurshid Kashuri said that Pakistani women is going to declining side and on International ranking, Pakistan is on 135 position out of 136 regarding to women issues that is very alarming situation for the people of this country. He further said that “We have gone on the back side of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of United Nation despite of achieved the MDG goals. For the progress Pakistani nation should change behavior. 
He also said that GDP percentage for education is very low in country and if PTI will come in government than GDP would be equal to the Malaysia GDP. He stressed that despite of spending the huge amount of GDP on building infrastructure they should spent on teacher training. 
PTI Punjab General Secretary Dr Yasmin Rashid presented the health facts and said that the role of mother is crucial to save a family and any family where the mother dies the chances of the two of the children surviving decrease sharply. She said that Pakistan had one of the highest infant mortality rate then the tragic statistic that every 20 minutes a mother dies in Pakistan due to lack of health facilities.
PTI Punjab President Ejaz Chaudhry said that the education of women suffered great disparity, as the female literacy ratio was only 47%. He said that the PTI demanded that the poor should not only be given free education but special emphasis being given on teachers training to improve quality of education. He demanded that young men and women should also be given vocational training and functional literacy to improve their chances of getting employment. 
Kashf Foundation also held seminar on the day and speakers said that women had a very important role in our lives, which we cannot ignore, and should realise the importance of women in society in every aspect. 
Further, they said that people should give due respect to women that they actually deserve, besides treating them equally. “The International Women’s Day is a good opportunity for the world to unite and recognise the achievements women have made and to take stock of what needs to be done.”
While addressing the inaugural of an exhibition arranged in connection with the International Women’s Day, Provincial Minister for Social Welfare Syed Haroon Sultan Bukhari said that the role of women was a milestone in the national development. 
He said that no society could progress without active participation of women in any sector. The minister said that the Punjab government had made 25 percent women members in the Punjab Public Service Commission; whereas their quota in jobs had been increased from 5 to 15 percent. “Similarly, a lady police official has been posted at each police station for resolving the problems of women,” he added.
Haroon Sultan Bukhari and Fahmida Mushtaq in their addresses said that observing the International Women’s Day was, in fact, recognition of the capabilities of women. They said that resolution of problems of women was the top priority of the Punjab government. They said that small loans were also being provided to the skilled women so that they could start small business and earn livelihood for their families.

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