ISLAMABAD: There is no other option for women but to stand against subjugation, societal taboos, customary practices and all sorts of discrimination and empower themselves.
These were the views of speakers at a seminar on “Recognising the struggle of women leadership”, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Thursday to mark International Women’s Day.
Senator Sherry Rehman from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said that women have been on the forefront of the democratic struggle in Pakistan’s political history.
“We have seen the struggle of Fatima Jinnah, Benazir Bhutto and Asma Jahangir, who were icons of resistance, peace and the champions of democracy,” she noted.
The senator noted that the destination for women was still far but they should not stop, rather they must keep on fighting and continue their struggle for their just rights.
Rehman added that one woman standing up against the prejudice can bring about significant change in the society as she pointed to the numerous women’s rights bills passed in the recent past due to the courage of women parliamentarians.
PPP Senator Sassui Palijo called for more gender-sensitive policies.
“Strengthening human justice system is the need of the hour. It is contingent upon the legislatures to pass legislation and fight for effective implementation,” she said while regretting that there was a great penchant for wars and power politics rather than addressing growing poverty, hunger, unemployment and violations of fundamental human rights, especially for women.
Renowned poet Kishwar Naheed, in an allegory, noted changing times that in the past women used to run indoors to ensure their veil (Parda). Now, the hijab (veil) has become fashionable.
“Women are learning about their rights over time,” she said, adding that there is a need to change the mindset of men towards women’s role in the society.
Earlier, Peace and Culture Organization Chairperson Mashaal Malik, the wife of Hurriyat Leader Yasin Malik, said that almost every home and woman in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) was subject to either physical or sexual violence. “Now, women have taken a leadership role in Kashmir, where the men (husbands, sons, fathers or brothers) are mostly imprisoned or have been paralysed due to brutal torture by the Indian Army,” she said.
She added that despite the continued oppression, curfew and the hail of pellets and knife attacks, Kashmiri women were continuing their peaceful freedom struggle.
“Courageous Kashmiri women such as Asiya Andrabi and Sofi Fehmeeda were truly the champions of peaceful freedom struggle in Indian occupied Kashmir,” said Mashaal.