Empowering women

Kaleem Dean
In 7.5 billion world’s population, women contribute almost 50 percent of enumeration, equaling in number, even in the modern 21st century still struggling for gender equality and social approval. This half of the total population started practical struggle when in 1908 about 15000 women marched through the streets of the New York City for their rights to get better pay scales and shorter duty hours. Since the inception of this women rights struggle, the movement gathered mass until it became a worldwide phenomenon of International Women’s Day and now celebrated in most of the countries with decorum of the national holidays including Afghanistan, one of the worst places for women to live and survive with even a limited independence. After a century’s time, the governments, civil societies, NGOs and Corporate sectors started celebrating the International Women’s Day in Pakistan, hence the IWD has not yet been popularly defined to cater the needs of the urban as well as rural women folk. In country like Pakistan always a massive room is available for criticism but is not it a reality that the women in the western civilized world are still struggling for their rights, the basic struggle started by 1908 women is still on the agenda of IWD. Programmes, as an example, in the recent studies carried out in the Great Britain white women generally and ethnic women particularly get less pay scales than their male colleagues. Especially in developing countries like ours, a religiously oriented society, perhaps, in a family unit, men are considered owners or custodians of women living with them and are responsible to protect offering them limited rights of liberty to exercise their potentials. The factual basis of the 70% population living under the monstrous poverty line has aligned a clear division between urban and rural way of life.In a quick comparison, men kind opportunities on both sides of the urban and rural camps are better available though there is hell of difference between overall urban and rural civics. Women in the urban circles get better clues to social success of recognition but since 1947, the rural women remain in a catastrophic situations. Despite a plethora of legislations starting from 1979 Hadood Ordinance to ‘Women’s Protection Bill of 2006’ and ‘Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace 2016, gender equality could not be ensured and once again at the occasion of 2017 International Women’s Day, the Federal as well as the Provincial governments have resolved corroborating women’s rights. Before furthering into 2017, was not that necessary to evaluate goals set at the time of 2016 celebrations of the International Women’s Day.The government bodies, commissions, and committee produce fascinating reports, plans and blueprints of projects and definitely new plans for women’s empowerment have evolved for 2017 agendas. How a common man could understand the philosophical approaches of high profile committees. The commoners simply assess on the basis of strengths, weakness, opportunities and threat found in a project. Empowering women is to transform their abilities to acquire full potential of social and economic fabric of the country which afterward will enable them to grow as a successful individual ready to serve the nation shoulder to shoulder with men. This could be achieved by concentrating on the areas of education, health, economics, understandings of equal civic norms, religious liberties and decision-making. The foremost but focal point is the elimination of the difference line between urban and rural women, everyone should fall in the same category of priority which in the end will fortify any challenge brought by particular schemes. Literacy rate among women is all time low, especially girls and women living in rural areas are deprived of their basic right to get education.There are certain reasons for this dilemma, the lack of the interest of governments in remote areas of the country and religious taboos which are hindering blocks in the provision of education to the 50 percent population of the country. In many areas, girls are prohibited to go to schools, however they are entitled to get basic religious education and afterward serve as generative engines of the society whereas country has no plans for maintaining reproductive health of womenfolk. What challenges women face in the country, there is long list; challenges in family where a girl is bound to limit her easy access to the society, challenge to acquire good education, though weak in strength, challenge to help men especially in the farming and agriculture with equal muscular strength. It has been observed that women living in rural areas have to carry meals for men working in fields and additionally they have to support them in cultivation. Women living in far flung areas of all provinces still in this ultra-modern century have to fetch water carrying water pitchers on their heads. In industrial zones, many young and adult women opt to work in factories as labour to earn for the families where they are not only offered very low salaries as compared to their male colleagues, but harassed and intimidated. Every day social media highlights a number of stories of women’s harassment at their workplaces. The women working in rich houses as maids are always exploited or abused, but poor women because of no proper legal protection and fear of losing monetary benefits, most of the times bear all brutalities at the hands of their male masters. In all this discussion, how minority women could be ignored, the most vulnerable women in the society. Sexual harassment, kidnapping, forced conversions and marriages are always record breaking. In estimation, every year more than 1000 minority women are kidnapped and forced to change their faith for marriages. The beloved state has all potential to erase all such social, cultural and religious cults, hampering comprehensive growth, but with an active participation of 50 percent women population which is being undermined materially. In the country, there are hundreds of thriving examples of women who vigorously set patterns and now by following them, especially in urban social structure, women are playing key roles, in politics, social leadership, NGOs, education, health, engineering, and the electronic & print media. In the coming days, 2017 agenda of women empowerment will be at work in offices but no surety when these files will be closed, this is the reason the dream of gender equality waits for another International Women’s Day.If countries legislators are seriously considering gender equality, there is a self-evident solution that before the next general election all political parties sitting in the Federal and the Provincial parliaments should unanimously pass a new legislations to erase reserved seats quota for women in assemblies bringing a fresh legislation of issuing equal number of assemblies’ tickets to women for contesting election. It will bring the real change. Let me quote the founder’s statement; “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you; we are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners.”

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