12 February, 2011

Measures to improve women status stressed

Sana Jamal

Islamabad - Ignorance and backwardness are the major reasons of oppression on rural women hence timely measures must be taken to improve the status of women by providing them equal opportunities. This was the crux of the two seminars held in Islamabad to mark the National Women’s Day (Feb. 12).

Women activists at a conference termed the existing discriminatory laws an outcome of extremist policies by the Zia regime and urged the parliament for effective legislation to defend the vulnerable women of the country. The conference was organized by National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW), Potohar Organization for Development and Advocacy (PODA) and Aurat Foundation (AF) at Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA).

Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali, former Advisor to PM on social sector, said that the struggle for the rights of women has just begun and it is “the mission of present government to empower the women and enlighten the women of their rights” because women play a key role in the development of any society.

National Assembly Law committee Chairperson Naseem Chaudhary said that to make the women “aware of women of their rights, it is important for them to be educated.”

At another seminar “Tribute to Women’s Leadership at grassroots level: Actions and Achievements”, Mukhtaran Mai, the chief guest of the seminar said that “women in rural areas are particularly vulnerable to oppression because of lack of awareness hence there is a need to raise the level of education.”

National Women’s Day is observed every year to mark the police brutality against women in Lahore on February 12, 1983” when Punjab Women Lawyers Association protested against Gen. Ziaul Haq’s law of evidence that reduced the testimony of women in court to half that of men, informed Naeem Mirza of Aurat Foundation.

The seminar was held to provide a platform for rural women to voice their concerns. Riffat Khan of Bhakkar and Qamar Bano of Jacobabad shared their success stories with the participants at the seminar organized by Aurat Foundation in collaboration with OXFAM-GB on Friday. Several women from Sialkot, Bhakkar, Jacobabad, Attock, and Hyderabad participated in the seminar and shared their touching stories with the audiences.

Speakers noted that the state of women was deteriorating in the country as the “cases of honour killing is increasing with every passing day, women have been deprived from their right to vote in many areas, the literacy rate in women in declining.” Zahida Hina, a novelist said that “the state of women particularly was deteriorated during Zia’s regime who omitted all articles regarding the equal rights of men and women,” she said.