As with every year, March 8 is a very important day for women all over the world. International Women’s Day celebrates the phenomenon that is woman and the obstacle-laden journey she has traversed, and is still walking on, to attain equality and her due place in society. The focus of this day is to appreciate women and their struggle for equal rights, not just socially but economically and politically too. No doubt, the importance of this day cannot be overstated and the celebrations held globally this year once again made evident how much developed nations love and appreciate their womenfolk. However, things were not so bright here in Pakistan where hardly any major events took place, save a few scattered conferences and seminars.
According to the NGO Hands, women in Pakistan are still struggling for their basic rights on the issue of ownership, a contentious matter in a status quo where men are considered the only authority in such affairs. To empower women in getting their due ownership rights is an uphill task in Pakistan, showing that we lag far behind the rest of the world where female equality is concerned. To add to this, women are still far behind in obtaining necessary healthcare and education, two areas where, if not empowered, the women’s struggle falls flat. More than 1,600 women were killed in Pakistan last year in the name of ‘honour’, as many as 370 women were raped with more than half that number gang-raped, more than 880 were tortured by the police and more than 2,000 tortured otherwise. Also, more than 450 women committed suicide this past year. So much for female rights and dignity in this society.
Also, while we may see some female politicians in parliament, the fight for basic rights and equality in the corridors of power remains elusive. Female lawmakers are in for tough times ahead if Friday’s session of the Punjab Assembly is anything to go by, where the government failed to table a bill for women’s representation due to lack of quorum. There just seems to be not enough agreement to give women their rightful place in the Assembly and otherwise so that women’s issues can be heard, represented and debated in the house. That was not to be. Whilst Women’s Day is a testament to the emancipation women have achieved all over the world, we, sadly, are still far behind.