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International Women’s Day: Call for better socio-economic status of rural women

Afshan Subohi

MIRPURKHAS/KHAIRPUR: Speakers and activists called for raising the socio-economic status of rural women in seminars held in Mirpurkhas and Khairpur districts to observe the International Women’s Day, marked on Friday, March 8.

Social activist Zahida Detho lamented that women in rural areas faced a lot of problems, including unavailability of healthcare and proper nutrition. She was speaking at a day-long seminar organised by Bhandar Sangat in the Mirpurkhas State Life building.

Bhandar Sangat directer Ameer Bux Shar said that charity began from home and so did the fulfilment of women’s rights.

He urged men to fulfil their duties and take care of their women by protecting their rights inside houses so that their rights can be protected in the society too. Another speaker Taj Baloch said that democracy could not prevail in a society which did not give its women their due rights.

He demanded abolishment of the feudal system and called upon the government to provide justice to women.

Advocate Nayyara Noor said that in rural societies, mostly women were the breadwinners of the family but were deprived of education and rights.

She said that the government should launch programmes for girls’ education.

Another such event was organised at the Joti Educational and Cultural Centre in Mirpurkhas by the St Michael’s Parish. The seminar was attended by a large number of women belonging to Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities.

Speakers including Sister Musaddiq Lethlil, Radha Bheel, Kanwal Anwer and Abida Nawaz and demanded eradication of karo-kari, and, forced kidnapping and conversions of young girls.

They also demanded that the people responsible for kidnapping young Hindu girls be arrested immediately and given strict punishment.

A rally to show support for women’s rights was also organised later. Participants marched from the St Michael’s Parish to the local press club.

Meanwhile in Khairpur district, a day-long seminar titled ‘Social economic and political status of women: national, regional and international perspective’ was organised by the Shah Abdul Latif University (SALU) Institute of Gender Studies and the Pak-US Alumni Network. Speaking to the audience, SALU’s pro-vice chancellor Prof Dr Mohammad Yousuf Khushk said that in ancient civilisations queens used to run vast empires but nowadays their representation at executive positions and key legislative posts was scarce.

In the West, he said, though political representation of women has increased with the feminist movement, women still suffered from identity crises.

He said that empowerment was essential before women could be brought to the political front.

The women should strive to attain their fundamental rights, said Prof Dr Khushk, adding that it was high time poverty, honour killing, sexual harassment, and unfair inheritance laws were eradicated from the society.

The chief guest on the occasion, Ghulam Sughra Solangi, the winner of Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award in 2011, said that rural women were victimised and were deprived of their basic rights.

She lamented that rural women were stopped from getting education, which she called a ‘dynamic force’ which could get them their rights. She held the feudal system responsible for the atrocities committed against women but said that the media had played a positive role in highlighting the problems of honour killings, torture and harassment against women.

Honourary chief guest Sukkur SSP Syed Pir Mohammad Shah said women often became the victims of tribal and personal feuds and were killed on the pretext of honour.

He said that the government had taken various steps, such as setting up human rights cells and creating the post of provincial ombudsman against sexual harassment at work places.