KARACHI (May 26 2008): The speakers at the International Conference on Women Leadership (CWL) called that education is basic factor for women empowerment. They must educate themselves to face global challenges. The Conference was held on Sunday at a local hotel, organised by the Sindh Women Department in collaboration with the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and Triple-E.
Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Sherry Rehman, speaking as a chief guest, informed the conference that just to root out the discriminations against the women, both the Article 25 and the Article 34 have already been presented in the National Assembly and the stakeholders’ dialogue would be initiated on the constitutional package prepared by the PPP.
She also said that lawyers would express their views in the process of negotiation and she was optimistic that all the issues would be settled in a smooth way. But one thing is very important and that is patience, which is necessary to get positive outcome, she said. Sherry said that in democratic countries, the governments enjoy peoples’ endorsement but in spite of that our government will have consultation with all the stakeholders and then it would be finalised.
She also said the government is trying to allocate land to women for the purpose of women empowerment. Besides setting up crisis centres for women for legal advice and several other social uplift programs are under process, she said. On the occasion, Sindh Women Development Minister Tauqeer Fatima Bhutto also spoke on the education of the women of rural areas.
She said: “It gives us pleasure today to talk about the economic empowerment of women. Here I will attempt to assess the progress in this regard both globally and nationally. Initially, I will identify the fundamentals of empowerment of women. What is empowerment really?” In the 1990s, world summits and conferences that were focusing on gender equality and development began to talk and discuss a new ideal that of empowerment. The term empowerment thus became very popular in theory and in practice. It was endorsed by many mainstream development agencies as well as academics.
Jo Roland, an eminent academic, carried out detailed studies in Honduras in the field of gender and development. She claims that for a marginalised group in society to be empowered there has to be a necessary gain in power for that group. Economic empowerment is fundamental to the achievement of gender equality, she said, adding that the empowerment of women and poverty alleviation worldwide is an issue on which a lot of progress needs to be made.
Other speakers of the conference were Shela Raza, deputy speaker, Sindh Assembly; Sassui Palijo, Sindh Minister for Culture and Tourism; Shazia Marri, Sindh Minister for Information and Archives; Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, co-ordinator, People’s Business Forum and Honorary Consul General of Yemen president of the Media Women Publisher and Journalists Organisation (MWPJO), Fozia, Dr Gul Mukh Jhanwani, MP Mumbai-India, Dr Al Leem, Director General, Custom and Hamriyah Free Zone, Sharjah-UAE, Dr Sunil Sharma, Executive Director, World Association for Small & Medium Enterprises, India; Nahid Usman, CEO ART Club, Bangladesh, KCCI President Shamim Sheri, Dr Nighat Shuket.
They all emphasised the need for introducing or implementing social welfare programmes in the realistic way. They lauded the role of media in highlighting the women-related issues and said that media in Pakistan has played a pivotal role in recent years highlighting economic empowerment of women, legal rights, health, the need to educate oneself, equality and justice both in the urban and rural areas.
They said that not enough resources are devoted to the issue of economic empowerment of women. There is a distinct lack of coherence in most countries between the macro economic and development policies. They said a recent study by the World Economic Forum highlighted that no country has as yet managed to eliminate the gap between men and women’s economic participation. But, they said that there are some indicators of the current global picture of women’s economic situation.
Globally women still hold only 15.6 percent of parliamentary seats. Women earn less than 78 percent of the wages that men can for the same work Poor women represent two-third of the world’s poor people.
The labour force of the informal economy is overwhelmingly female. Women provide unto 70 percent of agricultural labour and produce over 90 percent of the world’s food. Women occupy between 20-40 percent of managerial positions. They constitute 2/3rd if the worlds illiterate. Economic policies are seldom if ever gender neutral. Macro economic policies are generally formulated and implemented in areas such as trade, fiscal management, debt financing, social welfare and other sectors without a comprehensive assessment of the potential gender impacts.
In Pakistan, low female participation in normal economic activities can be traced to gender disparities in education. There are also socio-cultural and historic factors responsible for their comparative backwardness. They also noted that at the government levels, the poor women are hoping that it will complete the mission impossible but it is a sad plight that in the 60 years of Pakistan existence women have been deprived of their basic right to equal economic opportunities.
Theey said that women-related issues could not solve overnight. There is no magic wand that can deliver a quick fix. This problem is colossal. The World Bank assessment report does mention that there is an increase in the women’s work force and their participation has risen in the political sphere marginally.
Work has also been done in the promotion and protection of women’s rights but concrete steps should be taken to ensure that these legislative measures are implemented. Later, in the evening hundreds of rural and urban women participated in a dress exhibition to highlight the role of women in development work of the country.
Source: Business Recorder