KARACHI: Speakers at a seminar on the eve of International Women’s Day underlined the need to empower women financially, socially and politically in order to enable them to play an effective role in the country’s development.
The seminar titled “Shah Latif and rights of women” was organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) and the Surhan Welfare Society at the Omer Asghar Khan Hall in the Piler centre.
Noted writer and researcher Prof Dr Sahar Imdad in her address pointed out that though women were considered a weaker section of society, female characters were portrayed as protagonists in Bhitai’s poetry.
In this regard, she referred to the courage, determination and patriotism which Bhitai showed in the characters of Sohni, Sassui and Marvi when he made them part of his poetry.
“Bhitai portrayed Marvi as a symbol of determination who refused to accept the king’s bounties. She was also courageous as she said no to the king’s face,” she said.
Speaking about the problems being faced by women in the present age, she said that their economic empowerment was essential to bring about a real progress in society. For this purpose, women needed education first, she said.
Karamat Ali of Piler deplored the low status generally given to women in society and said that education and health facilities were denied to them. He added that women had equal rights and should be free to make decisions about their lives.
The ratio of women to the overall population, he said, was reducing both in India and Pakistan. In Pakistan, this was happening also because poor women did not have access to health facilities.
Commenting on Shah Latif’s poetry, he said that Bhitai through his poetry tried to infuse a spiritual strength into weaker sections of society that could give them a message of hope and help them survive in difficult times.
Writer Hamida Ghanghro, the widow of communist leader Nazeer Abbasi, said men were not the only people involved in atrocities against women in society. She added that there were incidents in which women had also indulged in violence against women.
“We need to recall the sacrifices of women who lost their lives while working and highlight the oppression being faced by peasant women till this day,” she added.
Sindhi poet Imdad Hussaini said that initially it was a matriarchal society in this part of the world where most deities were female. However, after the invasions of foreign forces, a patriarchal society emerged and women were subjugated and all types of injustices were done against them here.
He said that Shah Latif was a feminist poet and all heroic charters in his poetry were women.
Dr Kamal Jamro of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology said that there was a significant role of women in Shah Latif’s poetry and women’s day should be dedicated to all female characters in Shah Jo Risalo.