AN artist plays guitar to entertain the audience during a music session at the Lahooti Melo.—Dawn
AN artist plays guitar to entertain the audience during a music session at the Lahooti Melo.—Dawn

JAMSHORO: Speakers at a session on women’s issues in three-day Lahooti Melo 2020 that concluded at Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) Jamshoro on Sunday evening asserted that if women were allowed to work, they could contribute 25 per cent to GDP.

“Name of a woman is not frailty nor fair sex but unfortunately they are dubbed thus. Women are not at all frail because it is woman who can perform all taxing duties including formal and informal works at offices and fields equally,” said Shabina Faraz, a journalist, while speaking at a session titled:

“In the eye of the storm — women victors, not climate victims!”.

The session was moderated by Woman Action Forum activist Dr Arfana Mallah.

She said that rights of women were usurped as they were forced into underage marriage and kept from education. It was so wrong that parents made their daughters marry at an early age because they thought that their girls would be safer at the houses of their husbands, she said.

She said that it was a woman who looked after her children, did domestic chores, helped her man (husband) do each and everything and worked harder in fields without a break. If women were allowed to work, they could contribute 25 per cent to GDP, she asserted.

Journalist Zofeen Ebrahim said that climate change had taken a heavy toll on flora and fauna, men and especially women, and described women as victors and agents of change. No woman would want to come back as woman if she had ever been presented with a choice because of hard and continuous work, she said.

She said that women’s chores never come to an end even when they were pregnant or fell sick they had to keep toiling. There had however ben a change now as women had started to raise their voice while in past, women used to say that only men worked harder but now they were saying that they too were working harder, she said.

“Women are not writing for women, when I want to file some stories, some names of men come into my mind and I contact them for news,” she said.

Social psychologist Dr Gul Naz Anjum said that climate was considered as an elite issue, when there was a cold or heat wave, women experienced more stress because they had to look after children as well as elder people.

Development activist Samreen Khan Ghauri said that rubbish was dumped and burnt adjacent to localities without any thought to environmental hazards.

“For example, a locality Mahar Ali situated between Latifabad Unit-10 and 11 had been turned into a large heap of garbage where waste of entire city is dumped and burnt during night or at wee hours. This thick and toxic smoke is taking a heavy toll on entire Latifabad and even the city but nobody seems concerned,” she said.

She said that she complained to elected representatives and even Hyderabad mayor about it but in vain. They just whined about lack of funds for disposing of rubbish at a proper place or out of city and did nothing else. She had made a documentary about it to safeguard people from its hazards, she said.

Senior journalist Wus­atullah Khan grabbed audience’s attention with a mesmerising and amusing anecdote of his maternal grandmother and said at a session titled Mahooliyat ki talwar sai khushi, khushi, khudkhushi! that his grandmother was an uneducated lady but she was very intelligent.

She used to breed a goat for milk, sow some vegetables in open space in her small home, take Katranai (leftover pieces of clothes) from a tailor to use as stuffing for pillows. She managed and ran the house efficiently without obtaining a degree from a foreign university, she said.

He said that no TV channel bothered to highlight or break news of Australia jungle fire and no newspaper carried headlines about it while it was a matter of grave concern.

He said that officials and people were planting Conocarpus instead of other indigenous trees while Conocarpus was a bush and people were unaware of whether it was a bush or a tree. Governments, which introduced this bush, wanted to get quick and cheap publicity to turn areas green without pondering over its environmental hazards, he said.

Melo chief organiser Saif Samejo, who was a vocalist and founder of The Sketches band, and his wife Sana Khowaja said that the festival aimed this year at disseminating awareness about climate change among youths, women and scholars in the form of literature which contained various genres including singing, dance and others. They continued to plant saplings during the three-day carnival to highlight environmental issues which were affecting all equally.

Among others Ishaq Mangrio, Nasir Panhwer, Masood Lohar, Marvi Mazhar and Maryam Agha also spoke at the closing ceremony.

Meanwhile, nine workshops on various environmental issues were conducted while teenagers and visitors in hundreds kept thronging the event. They enjoyed various activities including singing, dancing, cultural shows and musical night.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2020

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