ISLAMABAD: Women parliamentarians should not accept to be a state minister, said Senator Sherry Rehman on Friday, saying that women being appointed state ministers is just another way of showing they are not capable of holding important and powerful positions.
“I have never been a state minister and will never accept such a position as a state minister has no power. State ministers cannot even get an office in parliament. Women were appointed as state ministers during the first four years of the PML-N government and they were only given the status of full ministers during the last year,” she said at the launching ceremony of a digital story titled ‘Pakistani Women, Past and Present. The event was hosted by the Uks Research Centre on World Democracy Day.
“Power is not [just handed over], it has to be taken. For me, the girls who pave their own path and achieve their goals despite family resistance are real heroes,” she said.
Ms Rehman said a large number of women were sent to jails due to the Hudood Ordinance, which was promulgated in 1978 by the military regime of Gen Ziaul Haq and that though it is still there, the ordinance has lost its effect due to the struggle of women.
“Whenever women start a struggle for repealing laws, critics say it is an issue of the elite class. But women from rich families can hire lawyers. It is the women of middle and lower class who suffer these laws as they cannot afford to hire lawyers,” she said.
National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW) Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz said women have continued to struggle for ensuring their rights since the Pakistan movement started.
“PPP’s Naseem Jehan Begum was the first woman to start a movement for women to have 49pc of the seats in parliament in the early 1970s. She also said women’s seats should be filled by elections and not selection,” she said.
She said women have initiated a campaign against sitting Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali Bogra’s second marriage and that women also succeeded to introduce family laws during the tenure of Ayub Khan. She said the establishment of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus during the 2008-2013 assembly is also an achievement.
Anchorperson Asma Sherazi said more women should join the field of journalism.
“Women are not allowed to cover some beats such as crime and finance,” she said.
Uks Research Centre executive director said this was the organisation’s first effort to make a digital story in order to highlight the efforts of women and that it will be improved in the second edition.
The digital story was screened at the event as well. It showed the women who had played a role in the Pakistan movement including Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan, the wife of former prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan, who was an honorary brigadier and also served as governor Karachi and was chancellor of the Karachi University.
Efforts were started to corner women during the tenure of Ziaul Haq but women like Kishwar Naheed continued with the struggle for their rights and even faced a baton charge in Feb 1983 in Lahore, the story said.
It said we have many examples of accomplished women in today’s Pakistan including Samina Baig, Malala Yousufzai and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.