LAHORE: Renowned human rights activist I.A. Rehman has urged Pakistanis to rise above gender discrimination and observe National Women Day today (Feb 12).

He was speaking at a roundtable held at a local hotel on Tuesday.

The event was jointly organised by National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD).

Mr Rehman said thousands of women had struggled to achieve their rights from the state “but now-a-days women are facing threats from non-state actors.”

He deplored that no progress had been made at federal and provincial level over domestic violence bill and child marriages as government had stopped the practice of private member bill.

NCSW Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz said: “National Women Day has been recognised officially since 2010 and the main purpose of the commission is to achieve gender equality before law in accordance with the Constitution and international covenants and commitments.”Sadia Qasim Shah, a speaker from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said extremism was a mindset and it ranged from verbal threats to intangible mental stress or fear in a woman’s mind.

Shah was of the view that deprivation of right to inheritance and profession of choice were some of the economic problems for women in KP.

Huma Fouladi from Balochistan said the province was facing three kinds of problems -- sectarian issues, Talibanisation and Baloch nationalist movements.

She said it was the need of the hour to weed out the causes of extremism.

Ayesha Siddiqa said: “The state is surrendering its writ in every sphere of life and it is a myth that foreign elements are responsible for the current state of affairs and poverty is the root cause of extremism.

“Punjabi extremism is widely prevalent in middle class and it has nothing to do with poverty and people do not pay taxes but they give donation to seminaries.”

Renowned poet Kishwer Naheed enthralled the audience with her inspiring couplet, “Hum Ghunahgar Aurtain (we sinful women).

The conference was also addressed by Amar Sindhu from Sindh, DCHD Executive Director Tanveer Jahan and Samar Minallah. — Imran Gabol

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