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ISLAMABAD: The 25th anniversary of Pakistani Women’s Day was commemorated

ISLAMABAD: The 25th anniversary of Pakistani Women’s Day was commemorated here on Tuesday with a demand for amendments to laws discriminating against women.

The day is observed to commemorate the infamous incident of police brutality at the Lahore High Court in 1983 in which women participating in a peaceful demonstration and exercising their rights to public assembly, protest and free speech against the draft Qanoon-e-Shahadat (Law of Evidence) were tear-gassed, baton-charged and dozens of them were arrested.

Benazir’s killing condemned: The Women’s Action Forum (WAF) strongly condemned the murder of Benazir Bhutto on the occasion. The forum said that Benazir was an icon of democratic values and possessed unparalleled leadership qualities. The forum said, “Benazir’s valuable contribution to Pakistani politics would never be forgotten.” Talking on the occasion, WAF founding member Begum Shahnaz Wazir Ali on behalf of all the forum’s women called for amendments in legislations discriminating women. She said, “Although many of the terrible laws have been removed or amended, still many exist that need to be dislodged.”

Paintings exhibition: Earlier, 20 artists including Abbas Shah, Afshan Shoaib, Amna Hashmi, Anjum Ayub, Arjumand Faisal, Altaf Ahmed, Adeela Aasia, AI Qureshi, Humera, Munaf Khan, Nahid Raza, NH Kazmi, Riffat Khattak, Samina Arjumand, Tabassum Rizvi, Tasneem Abbass, Tariq Kakar, Natalia Boichenco, Zaira A Zaka and Zia Zaidi displayed their paintings at an exhibition at the Nomad Art Gallery.

The artists portrayed women’s difficulties and the undue social restrictions placed on them. Afshan Shoaib in her painting titled ‘Red Beads’ beautifully depicted the country’s political situation. The painting depicts a woman wearing a red beads garland and mourning the deteriorating law and order situation that has claimed thousands of lives including Benazir Bhutto.

Meanwhile, Rozan in collaboration with the Society for the Advancement of Community Health, Education and Training (SACHET), Poda and the Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), organised National Women’s Day at the National Art Gallery (NAG).

The participants of the event also called for amendments in the Hudood Ordinance and to remove lapses in the Women’s Protection Bill (WPB). Women from the quake-affected areas also depicted their works in a Women’s Art Mela.

Radio series: On this occasion, Uks in collaboration with the British High Commission (BHC) also launched a 16-programme radio series titled ‘Hamari Tarraqui, Hamaray Masael’ (our development, our problems). The series is based on women’s issues including gender equality and women’s rights. “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead,” Sofia Shahid quoted Louise May Alcott while addressing the launching ceremony of the programme. She said the radio producers’ six-member team had travelled to Jafferabad, Naseerabad, Muslim Bagh, Sukkur, Dadu, Jaccobabad, Karachi, Meerwala, Jatoi, Karawali, Lodhran, Rullanwali, Abbotabad, Haripur, Hayatabad and Risalpur. The radio producers including Maria Mushtaq, Aisha Amir, Rafia Arshad, Saadia Haq and Rukhsana Murtaza searched for talent and recorded stories about women’s issues. National Commission of Status of Women (NCSW) Chairperson Dr Arifa Sayeda Zehra said there was only physical difference between a man and a woman, adding that women had courage, bravery and spirit equal to that of men. “It is the lack of courage in men that resists acceptance of women as equals to them,” she said. BHC representative Mathew Foreman said the story telling method was an important tool to spread the message. “The documentaries helped people judge the potential of Pakistani women,” he said.

Executive Producer Tasneem Ahmer said they had tried to depict old stories in new ways. “We have tried to highlight the positive aspects of the lives of successful women that would encourage other women to contribute,” she said.
Source: Daily Times
Date:2/13/2008

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