THE International Women’s Day is being observed today. This year’s theme is ‘Equal access to education, training and science and technology: pathway to decent work for women.’
However, I would dedicate the theme to the women who lived in the camps of internally displaced persons. Most of the women in the IDPs’ camps across the country desperately wished to return home and did not want to rely on food doled out by philanthropists and welfare organisations. They missed their routine household chores, including cooking and lending hand in agricultural and dairy production.
Currently, the returnees are facing the dilemma of how and where to start as their homes and livelihoods have been, by and large, destroyed. For most of these women life is a struggle; there are no options except to recreate a family shelter on their destroyed houses. They deserve a dignified return to their homes with access to basic necessities such as clean drinking water, basic health and education facilities and decent work to earn a livelihood.
The limitations of the government to rehabilitate the IDPs are obvious. However, to some extent non-governmental organisations are assisting these women to earn livelihood through income-generating activities , which encompass activities such as manufacture and sale of handicraft and agricultural products and byproducts. Overall, in Pakistan the present political and economic situation is affecting the abilities of people to secure an adequate income for their families. From this stems the need for women’s participation in complementary income-generating activities.
The important issue is how the activities are determined, implemented, maintained and sustained. The complementary activities should be according to the poor women’s practical needs.
Often these relate to the caretaking of children, elderly or handicapped family members, as well as to other domestic and agricultural responsibilities.
Our goal should be to empower women returnees from IDPs’ camps by offering them skill training, micro-credit and sale outlets for their products. This will open doors for decent work opportunities. When women have a complementary source of income for the family, they will be able to send their children to school and provide them with the basic necessities of life.
The most ignored ones
ALTHOUGH we have been observing International Women’s Day every year, violence against women and girls has remained a devastating truth.
Talking about Pakistan, women’s rights have remained a question mark for the mindset of women. Although women are seen in the roles of mother, sister, wife and daughter, they are, however, ignored the most. Violation against women has yet to draw attention of society at large. A grim situation in which women are placed can be known by the sad example that the UNPF mentions that about 5,000 Muslim women all over the world are victims of honour killing.
Pakistani society adopts a shameful attitude against women. Many are not allowed to choose their life partners of their own free will. Worse yet, many women are victims of sexual harassment or abuse.
Women’s International Day is observed so that their political and social awareness is brought out worldwide and examined in an optimistic manner. If they are given equal opportunity, they can bring about a sustainable change in education and in society.
It is the state’s obligation to protect and promote women’s rights.