KARACHI: Speakers at a conference, which opened at the NED University of Engineering and Technology on Friday, urged women to shun passivity, come forward and fight for their rights and empowerment.

Titled ‘Perceiving women empowerment in a changing global scenario’, the conference organised at NED University’s main campus features several prominent speakers including Senator Rukhsana Zuberi, senior architect Yasmeen Lari, Haseena Moin, Noorul Huda Shah, Farhat Ishtiaq, Dr Spenta Kakalia and Dr Hina Hussain Kazmi.

In her inaugural address, retired Justice Nasira Iqbal, the chief guest, regretted inaction on part of women and said their status couldn’t change in society unless they were aware of their rights and ready to take action for their empowerment.

“Women’s inaction and passivity is the biggest barrier to their empowerment. Women must take action on women’s issues,” she emphasised.

In her speech, Dr Masuma Hasan, chairman of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs and Pakistan’s former ambassador to Austria, said though the situation had changed positively for women, particularly due to urbanisation, women still had a long way to go as there were many concerns regarding women empowerment requiring attention.

She was appreciative of the struggle and initiatives women had taken up in different spheres of life and said the conference would also provide a platform to celebrate women’s achievements.

In her speech, Barrister Shahida Jamil, former law minister, emphasised the need for well-thought legislation to help secure women’s rights.

She also presented her analysis highlighting gaps in the process of framing laws and their implementation.

In his remarks, Prof Sarosh Hashmat Lodi, the Vice Chancellor of NED University, said that the institution wanted to empower women of younger generation and shared statistics of female students and faculty which were reflective of a good gender balance; 40 per cent and 35pc, respectively.

Prof Noman Ahmed, the dean information, science and humanities at the university, appreciated the idea of organising the conference and hoped that it would encourage women to become more vocal for their rights, share information and build networks.

Earlier, Dr Sajida Zaki, the chairperson of humanities department and conference convener, welcomed the guests and highlighted the aims and scope of the conference.

“The conference in its two-day deliberations will generate a thought-provoking debate through its distinguished speakers representing various professional and social spheres who will share their views relating to women empowerment,” she said.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2019