ISLAMABAD: Stressing upon the need for further creation of equal opportunities for the womenfolk in all fields of life, President Dr Arif Alvi Sunday said financial inclusion of women was imperative for their empowerment in the society.
Addressing as a chief guest at a ceremony arranged by the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat for Protection against Harassment at Workplace (FOSPAH) on the occasion of International Women’s Day, the president underlined the need for making collective efforts to ensure women’s inheritance rights, health, education, violence-free environment and equal opportunities in all strata of society.
He said that the creation of awareness in the society about the importance of economic inclusion of women along with their inheritance rights, which were flagrantly denied in the society due to prevalence of certain outdated cultural customs in different areas of the country.
He said “For the first time in the world’s history, the religion of Islam in very clear terms had ensured women’s rights to inheritance which even did not find place in the Western countries for long.”
Such irrelevant barriers in the shape of cultural customs should be discarded with forceful adherence to the Islamic teachings and the contemporary laws.
The Ulema’s role in this regard is critical for creation of mass awareness, he observed.
The ceremony was attended by PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, PM’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar, Federal Ombudsman Kashmala Tariq, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui, prominent women personalities and representatives of different organisations.
The president also referred to the government’s flagship social security and welfare Ehsas programme and said the government was committed to ensure social and economic betterment of womenfolk.
Quoting a saying of founding father Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah about the significance of women’s role in society, he said womenfolk should be provided with violence and harassment-free environment.
The president noted that the government could not alone work over these issues, it could enact laws, but it was the collective cause and responsibility of all stakeholders to play their parts.
He also opined that dropout rate of the female students from the schools was linked to certain social and economic conditions.
Whereas in the secondary and intermediate levels, girl students were outshining the male students, but at the higher education level, their participation gradually diminished which indicated certain issues, which should be addressed promptly, he added.
The president also stressed upon creation of spaces for mothers at their workplaces to properly look after their nascent babies.
The womenfolk in the country were confronted with serious health issues of malnutrition and stress, leading to child stunting and thus impacting the overall health of a family and ultimately society.
The developed countries always carved ways to overcome their conflicts and controversies in their societies, he said noting that in the national building, it was necessary to resolve all the issues peacefully.
He also lauded working of the FOSPAH, which was established some ten years back, observing that 12 percent increase was witnessed in filing of complaints, still there was need to encourage the victim women to register their grievances.
The president informed that he had directed the Ombudsman office to entertain complaints over women’s inheritance rights.
He said a proposal was also under consideration over giving of property as gift by the women members of a family to ensure their ownership rights.
During the ceremony, documentaries showing contributions of notable women personalities in different fields and the performance of the FOSPAH were also screened.
PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, addressing the ceremony, paid tributes to all women of the country who had inspired the society and the world while working against all odds and upholding their rights.
He observed that the high mortality rate in the country was alarming which was hundred percent preventable.
There were nine million reported pregnancies across the country and out of these, four million females did not want them due to population growth and other social issues.
Moreover, fifty percent mothers had been anemic to give birth to children, he added.
He said forty percent children in the country had been facing stunted growth, which if not treated at early stages could create life-long complications.
PM’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar said functioning of the FOSPAH should be emulated in the private sector to ensure harassment free environment for the working women.
About Ehsaas programme, she said, the government was committed to women’s welfare and economic security.
She said under the law on women’s inheritance rights, for the first time in the country’s history women had been given the ownership rights.
Dilating upon details of government’s different programmes, she said the Kafalat programme, had an inclusion of 100 percent women, women share in the income programme stood around 60 percent whereas under PM’s scholarships programme, 51 percent quota was allocated for the female students, besides fifty percent women inclusion was ensured in the loan facility.
Dr Nishtar said it was the men’s attitude, which determined how the women would prosper in the society.
Federal Ombudsman Kashmala Tariq giving an overview of the FOSPAH said it was ensuring harassment free workplaces to the women in the last ten years.
She said the women had been agents of change as they had been playing active role from managing their household to earning their livelihood with dignity.
She stressed upon the need to remove certain complex issues related to attitude and behaviours in the society and urged the media to play its wider role in creation of awareness among the masses.
She said there had been phenomenal increase in the number of women working in different sectors of the country.
Kashmala Tariq said the women should not be excluded rather they should be included by encouraging them to take part in different areas of life.
It was not a dispute between the men and women but by putting together their joint efforts for a prosperous society, she added.
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