ISLAMABAD: “Legislators cannot do much regarding women’s empowerment; women will be empowered when the mindset of men is changed. However, this may take a few generations,” Senator Mohsin Laghari said at a seminar on Thursday.

He said women will be empowered when people let their daughters decide what they want to study, instead of forcing them to, for example, become doctors.

“Legislation cannot change the mindset. A large number of men still believe women can only do household chores. We have to start trusting women,” he said.

The senator said women in Pakistani society face discrimination, and are not considered to have decision-making power. He urged well-educated men to play their role in the empowerment of women.

“I belong to a family in which women were not allowed to pursue graduate or postgraduate [studies]. When my sister decided to take admission to Lums, I was the only one who supported her,” he said.

Sehar Afsheen, a social entrepreneur, said she has been working in rural areas to raise awareness among women and support them in pursuing social entrepreneurship.

“I have observed that when women from rural areas who become social entrepreneurs are more vulnerable to violence because they cannot give as much time to household work,” she said, adding that this needs to be considered during planning for the economic empowerment of women.

Another social entrepreneur, Samar Hasan, said NGOs are dependent on funding, and must follow a donor-driven agenda.

“So systematically, there is an issue because their projects end after a year or a year and a half. Social entrepreneurship can create more jobs and play an important role in the empowerment of women,” she said.

Mansoor Malik, a business professional and social entrepreneur, said it has been observed that women and girls who secure the top positions at educational institutions do not join the workforce, and there should be an effort to ensure they can pursue social entrepreneurship from their homes.

SDPI researcher Ahad Nazir, during a briefing earlier in the seminar, said a comprehensive social entrepreneurship policy strategy is needed at the national and provincial levels.

He said the government and government departments should encourage social entrepreneurship by introducing a one-window system in this regard.

“Moreover, the purchase of equipment and technology, especially for women who want to start businesses, should be subsidised,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2017



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