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February 12, 2020

Women’s full participation in all walks of life stressed as Asma Jehangir remembered


February 12, 2020

The progress and prosperity of every society requires that women fully participate in different walks of life in that society, said rights activists gathered at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday to mark the second death anniversary of the outspoken lawyer and activist Asma Jehangir.

Addressing the programme titled ‘Women a Symbol of Resistance: Past, Present and Future’, organised by the Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), the speakers called for abolishing discriminatory laws against women.

They said the defeat of the anti-women mentality will pave the way for a just and equality-based society. They added that women in Pakistan have waged heroic wars for social justice and democracy and against gender-based discrimination and dictatorships.

They said Mother of the Nation Fatima Jinnah had challenged the dictatorship of Gen Ayub Khan when there was silence and fear everywhere, and despite her old age, she had rattled the foundations of his reign.

They also said that brave Pakistani women also raised strong voices against the fascist and anti-women dictatorship of Gen Ziaul Haq and challenged his steps to turn women into second-class citizens.

The speakers said women leaders braved jails and torture but continued their struggle for upholding basic human rights and democracy. Mai Bakhtawar Shaheed, Tahira Mazhar Ali, Shanta Bukhari, Asma Jehangir and Benazir Bhutto are symbols of the struggle of women, they added.

They said women have always been at the forefront in movements for the restoration of democracy. Paying rich tributes to Asma Jehangir, they said she was a brave woman and had raised a strong voice when others were silent due to oppression.

The speakers said Asma became the voice of the oppressed and her bravery and courage would be remembered for a long time. They added that the Women’s Action Forum (WAF) has written a new history and despite the passage of 37 years, women still get inspiration from its movement.

They said February 12 is the day to pay rich tributes to the women leaders who spent their energies in defeating the forces of darkness and raised brave voices against the black laws of Gen Zia and his discrimination against women.

On February 12, 1983, despite the imposition of Section 144, these brave women had challenged his dictatorship by taking to the streets and facing torture at the hands of the police of the Zia regime.

More than 50 women were arrested. Under these difficult circumstances, these women started and continued their struggle.

Due to the benchmarks set by these women, female farmers of Okara are fighting for their rights, lady health workers have emerged as an organised force, a large number of home-based women workers have organised themselves and succeeded in being recognised, and women leaders are also playing a leading role in getting justice for the affected families of the Baldia factory fire.

On the occasion, it was announced that on International Women’s Day a big Women Workers Rally will be arranged in Karachi with the participation of thousands of women workers, female peasants and women belonging to other walks of life.

The speakers demanded that all gender-based discriminatory laws should be abolished.

They said solid steps should be taken to end harassment of women at workplaces, and inequality in wages on the basis of gender should be ended, while women should be given 45 per cent representation in the legislatures.

Those who spoke on the occasion included WAF’s Anis Haroon, journalist and activist Mahnaz Rahman, Szabist’s Dr Riaz Sheikh, HRCP’s Asad Butt, Lady Health Workers Union’s Haleema Leghari, HBWWF’s Saira Feroze, Ali Enterprises Factory Fire Affectees Association Chairperson Saeeda Khatoon, National Labour Council’s Karamat Ali and National Trade Union Federation’s Nasir Mansoor.