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May 19, 2015

Call to change mindset for women empowerment


May 19, 2015

Women constitute approximately 50 percent of our population still they are least in the public sphere, particularly the young women because the male-dominated society is biased towards women.
A truly empowered woman can make wonders. She is more dedicated, harder working, more creative and more devoted to the cause. What really required is a fundamental change in our social attitudes towards women. A massive effort is required to make both men and women aware of the need and the benefits of women’s empowerment for a better future of Pakistan.
These views were expressed by speakers at a seminar on “We are not oppressed” organised by an NGO in collaboration with Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) at Lahore College for Women University on Monday. Over 200 students and faculty members participated.
Addressing on the occasion, the chief guest Punjab Ombudsperson Farkhanda Waseem Afzal, explained the importance of progressive laws for the protection of working women. She extended concrete support from her office for the compliance of the “The Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act”.
She urged the senior management in private and public sector institutions to play its roles in making their organisations gender friendly. She emphasised zero tolerance against harassment at workplaces.
Sharing salient features of anti-harassment law and the role of Ombudsperson office, she said the formation of inquiry committee and display of “Code of Conduct” was a must. It is easy to adopt and implement, also inexpensive and provides direct access to justice. Terming it key for women development, she said it leads to the higher standards in achieving gender equality.
Bushra Khaliq, Executive Director of NGO said mere legislation was not enough, government must ensure effective implementation of these laws as well. She said women possessed great potential which needed to be explored. She said various factors were at

work in limiting women’s potential to reach positions of leadership.
At the bottom of the constraints that women face is the patriarchal system where decision making powers are in the hands of male members. As a result, as per statistics, nearly 65 percent of the female doctors leave jobs after their marriages, 80 percent of business graduates sit at home after marriages, not even 10 percent of the educated women are entrepreneurs and running their own business on their own, their scope of jobs is always limited to teaching, customer care, call centres, designing and fashion. They need a fresh break as they could do far better than that. Confining women to the domestic sphere is one of the barriers to their economic empowerment. State priorities must include special initiatives for the women uplift. Deprivation from due inheritance and property rights contribute to women misery in public and private life. She urged the young women to come forward and claim their due social, economic and political spaces.
Mumtaz Mughal said there was a need to revisit discriminatory and biased family laws. Progressive laws, just social structures and violence-free society are a prerequisite for women’s development and a social change in the country. Government must take steps to stop customary practices based on inequalities and provide social and economic justice to the women through progressive laws.
Shazia Shaheen said according to our Constitution, every segment of society is equal while women in Pakistan have secondary status in the society and are deprived of fundamental rights, including right of free mobility, right of expression, right to choose career and life partner apart from that they are facing many forms of psychological, physical and sexual violence from different actors of the society. It is all because of the existing patriarchal structures and religious extremism prevailing in all the social and economic structures of Pakistan, including family, curriculum, legal framework and gender and women specific policies. It is need of the hour to stop domestic violence against women through effective legislation which is pending from a decade. This will lead to sustainable, just and peaceful society.
Ammara Athar, SP Investigations Lahore said Police Department needed more women police officers to check crime against women.
At the end of the seminar, Bushra Khaliq presented the souvenirs to the guest speakers and appreciation certificates among the students.

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