KARACHI: Speakers at various programmes organised on Tuesday to mark the International Women’s Day urged women to get education, learn technical skills and forge unity among themselves to get their rights.
Seminars, a press conference and a walk were also held on the day celebrated in the city as elsewhere in the world.
They said women were discriminated against right from their childhood as the male child was given preference to the girl child by the family in the provision of food, education, medical help, etc. When girls grew up and came out of their homes to get education or employment, a majority of them faced harassment at public places, bus stops, in transport and even at workplaces.
Speaking at a seminar organised by the Coordination Committee for Women’s Day (CCWD), Mehnaz Rehman of the Aurat Foundation demanded that all laws discriminatory to any section of society be abolished, and sterner steps be taken against elements burning down girls schools.
She said a country could not progress in the true sense of the word if half of its population was given neither equal rights nor opportunities.
She demanded that equal opportunities in the fields of education and employment be provided to women so that they could play their due role in the progress of the country.
She further demanded that women be paid equal wages for doing the same work as their male counterparts.
She said that while some women-friendly legislation had been done, the implementation of the laws remained spotty owing to which harassment of and violence against women was growing.
Pointing out that a majority of women worked from homes, Zahra Akbar said they were not even considered workers and were not able to get their rights guaranteed to them by the law.
She demanded that proper legislation for protecting the rights of the home-based workers be formulated.
Surayya Nisar, highlighting the problems being faced by nurses, said though some laws had been made to protect women, they were not being properly implemented owing to which harassment of women continued.
She said that owing to the discrimination as well as harassment being faced by nurses only a few women joined the noble profession.
Shakila Asghar, highlighting the issues of textile industry workers, said a large number of women workers were not even given appointment letters, with the result that they could not claim their rights from their employers.
Farhat Perveen, Malka Khan, Atiya Dawood, Shabnum, Hamida Sikander, Rahila Raheem and others also spoke at the seminar organised by the CCWD, which comprises over 30 organisations.
Earlier, the participants gathered at the Karachi Press Club and took out a procession from there which, after passing through various city streets, came to the Arts Council of Pakistan, where the seminar was held in its open-air theatre.
Earlier, the Working Women Welfare Trust demanded that women workers be allowed the facility of flexitime so that they could efficiently do their duties besides attending to their domestic responsibilities.
The WWWT’s Rehana Afroze said the concept of flexitime was not new and had been practised in the West for decades and even men also made use of it. She said the trust was taking up this issue with the legislators so that this facility could be made available to women workers here as well.
Sindh Social Welfare Minister Begum N. D. Khan urged women to get technical skills so that not only they could be economically empowered and made independent, but could also help improve the family income besides strengthening the national economy.
She was speaking at the graduation ceremony of a vocational training programme organised in Gulshan-i-Iqbal on Tuesday.
She distributed sewing machines among women on the occasion.
Speaking at the ceremony, she said the Sindh Assembly had also passed a resolution regarding the protection of women’s rights on Tuesday to mark the International Women’s Day.
Iqbal Saeed and Ghulam Mohammad also spoke.