This seminar was organized to highlight the achievements and milestones covered by women and to generate a positive profile of Pakistani women. Seminar under the theme of ‘History of women struggle’ held at Regent Plaza Hotel, Karachi. The seminar was organized by GAD department of HANDS under GEP / GBV project with the collaboration of Aurat Foundation, USAID and Asia Foundation. HANDS as provincial and district sub grantee of GEP(Gender Equity Program), is responsible for organizing advocacy programs at district level as well as monitoring other sub grantees advocacy activities all over the Sindh. HANDS is playing a key role to increase awareness about women rights, laws and GBV issues in the community specifically among the youth.
As we know Gender-based violence in Pakistan is on rise particular in rural areas. Issues like domestic violence, rape, trafficking, honor Killings, forced prostitution, public humiliation, incest, child marriages, and sexual harassment are remain under cover and un-complained. Extreme forms of physical abuse include burning, acid throwing, physical mutilation and female infanticide, As a provincial sub grantee we organized this seminar to highlight the journey of women struggle on the occasion of 12 February, Pakistani Women’s Day. The day marks an important milestone in the history of women’s movement in Pakistan, when women protested and successfully challenged the promulgation of the Law of Evidence by the military man Ziaul Haq.
The event started with the recitation of Holy Quran, by Deena Yousuf. Followed by welcome speech by Dr. Shaikh Tanveer Ahmed, who gave a brief about HANDS and welcomed guest speakers and participants. We have a very strong speakers panel who shared their achievements and challenges faced in their journey. With this speakers of seminar tribute to Women’s Leadership and appreciated ‘Actions and Achievements’ of the women in the past 64 years of Pakistan and also appreciated the efforts and achievements of Pakistani parliamentarians on bills passed by National and Provincial assemblies. These bills include:
- Sexual Harassment Bill – 2010
- Acid Criminal Law – 2010
- Anti Women Practices Bill – 2011
- Domestic Violence Bill – 2012
our speakers’ panel includes:
- Ms. Muneezeh Khan – Aurat Foundation
- Ms. Uzma Noorani – WAF
- Dr. Yasmeen Qazi- The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
- Ms. Parveen Saeed – Saasti Rooti
- Ms. Jamila Ali – Community Case Study
- Ms. Sheeba Shah – SP Women Jail
- Dr. Rizwana Zahid – Clinical Psychologist
- Ms. Heer Soho – MPA –MQM
- Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid
- Mr. Khawaja Izhar – ul – Hussain – Adviser MQM
- Dr. Fateh Mohd Burfat – Professor Sociology Department – Karachi University
Some of the comments made by speakers are written below:
Heer Ismaeel Sohon
According to her, Women in rural areas are particularly vulnerable to oppression by family and society because of lack of education and awareness in the rural areas hence timely measures must be taken to improve the status of women by providing equal educational opportunities. Women day brings a reminder of the women movements but today we are especially focusing on our women of rural areas,” he said here we have in this seminar icon of struggle and courage for women in Pakistan and abroad” and said nowadays many exploited women look up to her to attain courage.
Dr. Fateh Muhammad Burfat
Changing the world is a great goal, but that starts with changing our insides first. And that means living a life filled with positive energy, positive actions and positive thoughts. Our women are on the road to progress and emancipation. The journey may be long and tedious but they are destined to succeed. I wish them good luck.”
She gave the brief about the WAF journey from General Zia who announced the establishment of Sharia Benches and in era of Zia many laws passed against women. She also said that Women are also exploited for the only reason of being a woman. With a high workload from dawn to dusk, she was paid far less than what males get doing less work. Moreover, in our male dominant society, molestation and sometimes attack on her piety during job are frequent incidents. If she reports such crimes then as a punishment, she is rusticated from her job. Therefore, most of the crimes against her remain unreported.
Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid :from
Women’s History Month and Pakistani Women’s Day celebrate the strides toward dignity and equality that women have made around the world. They are also a chance to reflect on the work we still have to do, and the particular challenges faced by women at the margins, including those in the criminal justice system. Even though NGO’s are concentrating on giving rights but i haven’t seen anyone to be concentrating on the rights abuse of the prisoners. We should collectively work on something to stop this abuse and educate them so that they could be a effective part of society.
She began from how she started her saasti rooti scheme, after reading story of a local woman who killed her two children because she could not afford to feed them, she decided something had to be done and she began providing heavily subsidized meals to the city’s poor. According to her, women bear almost all responsibility for meeting basic needs of the family, yet are systematically denied the resources, information and freedom of action they need to fulfill this responsibility. The vast majority of the world’s poor are women. Two-thirds of the world’s illiterates are female. Of the millions of school age children not in school, the majority are girls.
The current world food price crisis is having a severe impact on women. Around the world, millions of people eat two or three times a day, but a significant percentage of women eat only once. And, now, many women are denying themselves even that one meal to ensure that their children are fed. These women are already suffering the effects of even more severe malnutrition, which inevitably will be their children’s fate as well. The impact of this crisis will be with us for many years.
Dr Yasmeen Qazi :
As a reproductive health advocator she spoke about maternal situation of Pakistan. According to her in a nation where an estimated 14,000 women die each year from pregnancy related causes. An estimated 276 women die for every 100,000 live births in Pakistan, with this figure reaching up to 490 deaths for every 100,000 live births in certain regions. Three common causes of poor health in women and children in Pakistan are very high fertility rates, a high unmet need for family planning services, and very low rates of skilled birth attendants. Furthermore, a poorly funded and structured health service delivery system especially at the district level exacerbates the problem of getting the right care to mothers and newborns at the right time. She says educating young girls is the single best policy for reducing the country’s high fertility rate and for smaller, healthier families achieving. She requested all women activist and speakers that whenever they talk about women rights and women empowerment always include reproductive health.
Overall this seminar proved to be a successful event organized by GAD department of HANDS. This seminar was attended by 130 people including media persons, NGO’s representatives and community people. The program was very much appreciated by the participants and speakers, according to them it’s the need of the hours to publicize these laws and rights among the general public specifically the youth.