HYDERABAD: Speakers at the ‘First International Women’s Conference’ attached great importance to women’s empowerment and called for removing obstacles and breaking shackles that hamper their educational progress and growth in different sectors, particularly in the rural areas of Sindh.
The conference was organised at the Sindh Museum on Saturday. Sindh Assembly Deputy Speaker Rehana Leghari told the audience that the assembly had enacted certain laws to address issues relating to womenfolk and the government was committed to ensuring their implementation.
The laws dealt with issues like domestic violence, karo-kari (honour killing), forced conversion of minority women etc, she said.
Women Development Minister Syeda Shehla Raza said women should work collectively for their rights and empowerment. She said that while her department was extending its full cooperation in ensuring their success, men should also allow female members of their families to work for their empowerment.
The PPP government had done a tremendous job so far as women-related legislation and measures were concerned; no other provincial government had done that much work in this regard, she claimed.
Eminent playwright Noorul Huda Shah said women would have to come forward for restitution of their rights in society. She said that without making efforts, they could not achieve empowerment.
In the story session of the conference, Sindhi Language Authority secretary Shabnam Gul narrated a story, conditional love.
Development sector activist Sadiqa Salahuddin said painful stories existed in rural areas as far as girls’ education was concerned. Instead of just crying, society would have to break shackles and remove obstructions that blocked path of girls’ education.
She said the situation was turning from bad to worse in the education sector where Pakistan lagged behind even Nepal. In terms of women education, she said, Pakistan was the second last in that index. She said that without educating womenfolk, no country could progress.
She said that women formed only 30 per cent of teachers in Sindh and almost all [women teachers] were available in the urban areas. She said education did not have religion, language and neither it was property of anyone. She said that only education could change social conditions.
Aapa Qamar Wahid said that no ownership was seen in the education sector. Girls did not have access to basic facilities in schools.
Today’s teachers did not treat students like their children and this attitude needed to be given up forthwith. A comprehensive policy was needed as it was fundamental issue of human life. She said women had strength to bring about a change in society.
Anis Memon said the conference was aimed at empowering women. Every woman must be educated as Sindh’s women were still living in 50-year-old conditions, she said, adding that a website of women was being designed and data of those women who excelled in education and health sectors was being collected.
Poet and writer Tania Saleem, speaking in a session on ‘women’s respect and our society’, said she was glad to see that voices were being raised today to condemn violence against women. Social media had become a powerful medium where women in distress could raise their voice, she observed, adding that the social media had given independence to women.
Raheema Panhwar said that so many laws existed to curb excesses against women and Sindh had made effective legislation but unfortunately their implementation was not seen. She observed that women shelter homes were established but without staff.
A political activist, Nazeer Qureshi, said the conference had given power to women. Right from the Sindhiani Tehreek to the Awami Jamhori Party, she had been struggling to date. She said men who believed in practical approach were part of pro-women struggle as well.
Women rights activist Shabnam Baloch pointed out that human behaviour always guided society and such attitudes were changed considering social conditions.
She asked why men’s character was not discussed and everyone tried to question women’s character.
Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2018