ISLAMABAD: Terming financially-empowered women important contributors to socioeconomic development, President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday said their emancipation necessitated a harassment-free environment at workplaces.

“The State and the society need to provide every woman a safe and secure space in public and domestic domains where they could thrive amid equal opportunities,” he said in his address at an event at the President House which was organised by the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat for Protection Against Harassment (FOSPAH) in connection with the “16 days of activism against gender-based violence and for elimination of harassment against women.”

President Alvi said it was the responsibility of both the state and society to bring a change in attitudes that promoted gender-based harassment.

He said the empowerment of women had several facets including the right to ample representation in financial, political and leadership spheres.

Says state, society need to provide every woman safe and secure space in public, domestic domains

The denial of property and inheritance rights to women is against the injunctions of Islam and the country’s law and needed to be reported at legal forums such as FOSPAH, he added.

Islam enunciated equal rights to women over 1,400 years ago and supported their participation in all fields of life.

The president quoted Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah as saying, “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you.”

He termed ‘honour killings’ of women a criminal act that required a change of behaviours against several social taboos.

In response to the tragic incident of honor killing that shook the country, President Alvi expressed deep distress and called for a fundamental shift in societal attitudes toward women.

He emphasised the role of media in promoting awareness about gender harassment through talk shows, television dramas and cultural programmes.

He proposed that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority could be taken on board for relaying short messaging services to cellular phone consumers on awareness about gender harassment.

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Deputy Governor Saleemullah said women could prove themselves as a productive workforce in achieving the goals of a stable economy. He said SBP in three years had provided training to women on digital finance at their doorsteps and was endeavouring to open accounts for 9.3 million women in collaboration with Benazir Income Support Programme.

FOSPAH ChairpersonFauzia Waqar said her organisation was addressing the grievances about harassment at workplace and cases of women’s property rights within 90 days and without any fee.

She said since its establishment, FOSPAH had dealt with 8,000 cases of women’s harassment and property matters and provided speedy justice to aggrieved persons.

A documentary was screened on the occasion depicting the problems faced by women at workplaces and FOSPAH’s activities as a platform for addressing them.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2023

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