Taking into consideration the contribution being made to each and every sphere of life in the country, it can be certainly contended that women are no less indispensable to society than men.
This was the overall consensus that emerged from the speeches of women who narrated their climb up the social, corporate and entrepreneurial ladder at a seminar, titled “Women’s empowerment”, held at the Global Marquee in town on Saturday.
Women from various walks of life who have shown sterling leadership qualities spoke about their experiences.
The programme began with the motivational speaker, CEO, Hum TV, Sultana Siddiqui. Narrating her climb to success, she said, “Our women seem to think that only men have leadership qualities.
However, it has to be acknowledged that only women can truly determine the character of their offspring. You need to exploit your qualities. What you need much more than money is the qualities of head and heart. As for money, you have to learn judicious use of the commodity.”
She said that her family had reservations about her taking up TV as a career and tried to dissuade her from entering the field. “But I was determined to tell society what women were capable of,” she said.
“I would like to advise parents to allow children to work towards achieving what they want to achieve rather than suppress them and foist their choice of career on them,” she said.
Talking about her career, she said that she took an early retirement from PTV and her son suggested that they establish a TV channel. Today, she said, they had three channels. Pretty soon, she said, she would be bringing a news channel.
This was followed by a panel discussion with Justice (retd) Majida Rizvi, Rabya Javeri, Mehtab Akbar Rashdi, and Fiza Alvi as discussants. The panel discussion was titled “Breaking the ceiling of women’s empowerment in Pakistan”. Journalist Uzma Al Karim was the moderator.
Justice Majida Rizvi said, “No doubt we have broken the glass ceiling of women’s empowerment; we still have to do a lot to change the mindset completely.”
She said that even her people had reservations of her entering the legal career and that she really had to argue with them for being let into the profession.
Rabya Javeri stressed proper education of children. She said that for right now, children’s condition in the country was really deplorable.
She talked of the Child Protection Centre set up in Islamabad where children came with burn and torture marks on their bodies. She said they had carried out a survey and it transpired that anywhere between one and two million were the victims of physical abuse. She said parents had to be driven to care for their children.
Sindh Assembly member Mehtab Rashdi said that men had not wholeheartedly accepted women in the legislature. She said men were duty-bound to condemn derogatory remarks made against women members in the precincts of the legislature. Women, she said, had to recognize each other’s capabilities.
Fiza Alvi talked about the role of the film industry in bringing about enlightenment as regards women.
Later, mementos were presented to the discussants of the panel.
In the final session, awards were presented to women who had made a mark in various fields.
The award for gender equality was bagged by Hum TV CEO Sultana Siddiqui; the award for spreading awareness about health and fitness was bagged by Mantaaha Tareen; for peace and justice by Justice (retd) Majida Rizvi; for quality education by Sabina Khatri; for efforts to mitigate poverty by Shahnaz Kapadia; and for voluntary work by Farzana Ahmed.
The proceedings were compered by Shahnaz Ramzi.