PESHAWAR: Mismanagement and disunity among the organisers marred a function, held at Nishtar Hall on Tuesday to mark International Women’s Day, as activists of Awami National Party turned the event into a party show.
Although the event was organised by provincial social welfare and women development department, yet the hall was decorated with ANP flags.
The representatives of different NGOs and rights groups seemed disappointed when a kite-flying event and poetry recitation session, organsied by them as part of the function, were delayed because workers of ANP wanted to enjoy music.
The entire activity showed a complete lack of coordination as the event was virtually hijacked by ANP activists, who sang national songs and displayed their party flags, said Gulmina, a participant.
Most of the members of NGOs and women rights organisations were seen roaming outside the hall while the function was underway.
“We resisted the move of ANP workers to hijack the event, however, we didn’t boycott the function as we didn’t want to create disturbance,” said Saima Munir of Aurat Foundation.
Interestingly, women, brought from far-flung areas in buses to participate in the function, were unaware of the importance of International Women’s Day. They came in the hope that someone would listen to their woes.
“What to say of women rights. Our life is not better than that of an animal,” said several rural women from Swabi district.
Some other women from Qazi Kallay were also more interested in telling journalists how their houses had been destroyed by floods, instead of speaking about women rights or importance of the day.
They said that they attended the function that government functionaries would listen to their problems.
Samina, a participant, said that disunity among the organisers was visible. She also criticised the message being conveyed through such an activity. “Mere kite-flying or emotional speeches on this day cannot solve problems of women. Basic facilities and concrete steps to ensure women’s rights is what these women want,” she said.
Minister for Social Welfare and Women Development Sitara Ayaz, when asked, said that she realised the problems faced by women. “The government is doing what it can do for provision of basic facilities to women,” she claimed.
She added that government planned to provide free food to girl students in seven districts as an incentive. The provincial government also started Bacha Khan Khpal Rozgaar Scheme to give interest-free loans to women to start a business at home.
The minister said that government took several initiatives like setting up provincial commission on the status of women to give its recommendations regarding legislation on women issues. “The ombudsman office has also been set up to look into the complaints of harassment,” she added.
Earlier, addressing the function, ANP provincial president Senator Afrasiab Khattak appreciated the sacrifices rendered by women in the province in the face of terrorism. He said that their party raised voice against barbarity and lashing of women in public.
Minister for Information Mian Iftikhar Hussain also praised the role and struggle of women in the present day scenario.
The provincial social welfare and women development department also conferred ‘Malalai Award’ on 25 women for extraordinary performance in their respective fields.
The NGOs and social welfare and women development department also set up several stalls to exhibit women’s handicrafts in the vicinity of Nishtar Hall. The blockade of road in front of Nishtar Hall for security reasons added to miseries of commuters.