'Women's role in development crucial' -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

‘Women’s role in development crucial’

LAHORE: The role of women in the creation of Pakistan and its development have been crucial, despite the fact that they have been marginalised by society, said speakers at ‘Women, Democracy and Economy’, a seminar held on Thursday.

Organised by Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), the conference took up issues relating to the women of Pakistan.

Participants discussed the role played by women in the democratic struggle of Pakistan, violence against women and their role in strengthening the country’s economy through the informal sector.

Speaking on the occasion, Salman Abid of SPO said that democratic struggle could not be carried out in isolation and that it was not possible to strengthen the political system without bringing sustainability in the democratic set-up.

“There was no democracy in Pakistan for 30 years and people still are sceptical when someone says that women can play an active role in politics,” Abid said.

Social perspective: He said that it was mindset of the society that did not want their women to be active in a field like politics.

“Even many liberals think that women in Pakistan should be reserved only to non-controversial fields such as education or health,” he added.

He said that women despite all the hurdles had played an active role in the democratic struggle of Pakistan.

Speaking on the topic of female education in the country, Abid said that regional campuses of different universities had helped women get higher education and NGOs had also played an important role in educating the females of the country. Speaking about the challenges faced by women in Pakistan, he said that there was a dire need of reforms to include women in the electoral process.

Bureaucratic mindset: He said there was a notion among the bureaucracy that women were not capable of doing important work, and this mindset needed to be changed. He said a big challenge in way of women’s participation in politics was religious extremism, which needed to be curbed.

Women Workers’ Helpline (WWH) Secretary General Bushra Khaliq highlighted the need of legislation for bringing informal sector into the social security net. She said that home-based female workers and male labourers in informal sector suffered a lot at the hands of contractors. She said that women’s role to improve economic conditions had become vital and legislation for the domestic workers was needed direly.

Historian Dr Mubarik Ali said violence against women should be analysed in a historical perspective. Throughout history, victors have taken revenge by committing cruelties and suppressing the women-folk of the people they had conquered, he added. Praising SPO for initiating debate on this topic, Dr Mubarik said that awareness in people could be created through such conferences.

At the end of the conference, SPO also awarded women who had played important roles in the country’s politics. Hussain Naqi of HRCP, rights activist Tanveer Jahan, Saman Yazdani from Shirkat Gah, Farzana Mumtaz from SAP-PK, senior journalist Farah Zia and others also spoke on the occasion.
Source: Daily Times
Date:3/5/2010