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Women police commandoes drill at the International Women’s Day function held at Police Lines. — White Star
Women police commandoes drill at the International Women’s Day function held at Police Lines. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: Various seminars and conferences were held across the twin cities in order to mark International Women’s Day, which is observed on March 8 each year.

Women have been at the forefront of the democratic struggle in Pakistan’s political history, said PPP Senator Sherry Rehman at an event hosted by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

“We have seen the struggle of Fatima Jinnah, Benazir Bhutto and Asma Jehangir, who were icons of resistance and peace and were champions of democracy,” she said.

“We are proud of the trajectory of the first Hindu-Dalit girl, Krishna Kumari, from bonded labour to being a senator,” she added.

Renowned poet Kishwar Naheed said women are now more aware of their rights and stressed on the need for educating men on women’s role in society.

A march was held outside the National Press Club, the participants of which demanded basic rights for women. The march was hosted by a coalition of civil society organisations under the banner of Ending Violence against Women and Girls.

One of the participants, Haseeb Khawaja said 12 million Pakistani women do not have identity cards due to which they cannot cast votes.

Women daily wage workers were also sitting outside the press club, demanding the regularisation of their services and MNA Asad Umar came there to express solidarity with them.

A teacher, Rabia Waheed said she and the other teachers have been protesting for 68 days but their services have not been regularised.

The Women’s Democratic Front held a march from the press club to Nazimud Din Road. The organisation’s president, Ismat Shahjahan said the Constitution calls for gender equality while the policies and laws in the country are based on gender inequality, discrimination and violence.

During another event, National Commission on Human Rights Chairman retired Justice Ali Nawaz Chohan said: “Women are our inspiration, strength and character”.

He said the role of women in third world countries and Pakistan is evolving and that they are breaking away from patriarchal practices.

Serena Hotel hosted an outdoor breakfast for all women associated with Serena- as employees and well wishers- in which members of the diplomatic corps and officials of the foreign affairs ministry also took part.

Australian High Commissioner Margaret Adamson said International Women’s Day is an important opportunity to recommit to a fair go, a level playing field so everyone has equal opportunities to fulfil their expectations and potentials.

Dutch Ambassdor Ardi Stoios-Braken said the struggle for equal rights for women is not over in the West as well and that the Dutch foreign affairs ministry has formulated a special policy for posting women on top positions.

The capital police also held an event to observe women’s day at the Police Lines Headquarters. Speaking on the occasion, Islamabad Inspector General of Police Dr Sultan Azam Temuri said there are 289 women police officers in the force, which makes for just 2.5 pc and that there are just 0.89pc women in the country’s police force.

He said more women will be brought into the force during the next recruitment. He said women will be given training, will be assigned important field positions, will be provided a conducive environment, anti-harassment committees will be formed in the force, women’s toilets and day care centres will be established in stations. Women police officers were awarded shields for good performance and for their contributions to the force.

The Women Research and Resource Centre at the Fatima Jinnah Women University hosted a seminar on Violence against Women and Girls and Access to Justice during which speakers urged women to speak up for their rights.

Benazir Jatoi from the Aurat Foundation talked about how to tackle violence against women and the laws and regulations in this regard.

“There are proven solutions for supporting and empowering survivors to stop recurrence of violence. Laws and policies are powerful tools to punish perpetrators and provide justice,” she said.

A volley ball match a tug-of-war was held in the Government Postgraduate College for Women on 6th Road as well.

The college’s team won the volley ball tournament from Government College for Women Murree Road’s team and the Punjab College for Girls Satellite Town beat the host college in the tug-of-war.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2018