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‘Progress, prosperity linked to women’s empowerment’

KARACHI: Doctors, education and women rights organisations have joined hands to hold the first international conference on ‘Women empowerment’ in the metropolis on Wednesday.

Highlighting the importance of women’s empowerment, the civil society representatives told a press conference on Monday that the country’s progress and prosperity was linked to it. They called for collective efforts to provide equal opportunity to women and curb all kinds of violence against them.

Speaking at the Karachi Press Club, former secretary general of the Pakistan Medical Association and president of the Pakistan National Forum on Women’s Health Dr Shershah Syed said that the first university in the Muslims’ world was established in Morocco by two women. He added that Egypt’s Al-Azhar university was also initially named after a woman, but it was regrettable that women were still deprived of education.

“Only empowered women can bring about a real change in society,” said Dr Syed, adding that the country could not progress without empowering women who comprised over 50 per cent of the population. Karachi PMA general secretary Dr Qazi Wasiq and Sadaf Hameed of the Advance Education Institute and Research Centre (AEIRC) also spoke at the press conference.

They said women were facing serious health issues related to breast, ovarian, cervical and uterine cancer. “A number of rural women reported at hospitals with breast cancer every year, but most of them were not able to get treatment at an early stage of the cancer when it was cureable,” they added.

The society could not allow young women to die of breast cancer just because they lacked knowledge about it, the speakers pointed out.

“We should create awareness regarding this lethal disease and make our society safe for them.”

They also expressed concern about ‘organised violence against women’ and failure of the government to protect them. In this situation, they believed, it was not possible to provide equal rights to women without the help of civil society and community.

About the international conference, they said local and foreign health experts as well as other speakers would highlight the women-related issues at the event comprising three sessions and a dance performance.