Opening day of conference dedicated to women of India-held Kashmir

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Rural women attend the conference organised by Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy at Lok Virsa on Tuesday. — Online
Rural women attend the conference organised by Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy at Lok Virsa on Tuesday. — Online

ISLAMABAD: The first day of the Rural Women’s Conference at Lok Virsa on Tuesday was dedicated to the women of India-held Kashmir (IHK) suffering under the curfew and action by Indian forces.

The three-day conference opened on Rural Women Day on Oct 15 and was organised by the Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (PODA). More than 2,000 women from more than 100 districts across the country are participating.

The United Nations declared Oct 15 Rural Women Day in 2007, and PODA began celebrating the occasion a year later.

Speaking at the conference, Ambassador of Norway Kiell-Gunnar Eriksen said no country can prosper if half its population is not taking part in the economy.

He said Norway is among the top countries where women enjoy equality.

MNA Shunila Ruth, who chairs the parliamentary committee on human rights, said: “Women’s work should be recognised in the economy.”

PODA Board Chairperson Dr Zarina Salamat congratulated the participating women for their significant gathering.

“Hundreds of women are here and they are coming as waves in the ocean to enhance the impact and to amplify their voices, urging all stakeholders to work for the plight of rural women who need to be recognised at the national level in all policies,” she said.

PODA President Sameena Nazir said: “The conference is a platform of togetherness where rural women show who they are and what they want and set priorities of all stakeholders. There is no reason to leave behind more than half of the rural population comprising women in the course of development.”

Dr Riffat Sardar, the chairperson of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Commission on the Status of Women, said that the unpaid work of rural women is 2.6pc of the GDP.

Renowned poet Kishwar Naheed also recited her work on the occasion. Other speakers included United States Embassy Cultural Affairs Attaché Lisa Swenarski, Australian High Commissioner Dr Geoffrey Shaw, Ayesha Zafar from Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Shahida Irshad from Quetta, Parveen Jan from Gilgit-Baltistan, Firdose Sangi from Sindh, Shah Gul from KP, Saima Batool from Punjab, Sehrish Ayub and more.

An exhibition showcasing the crafts and entrepreneurial skills of rural women was also inaugurated at the venue’s culture and crafts pavilion.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2019