View Full Version : Empowering women — the real change By Hina Butt - 8th March 2016

8th March 2016, 11:23 AM
A woman has been equally endowed in terms of intellect, prudence and rights as a man has been. Over the years, the state of women in Pakistan as compared to men has been awfully miserable, as they have been a victim of domestic violence and sexual assaults at working places, meted out with massive atrocity and injustice, and denied their due social, economic, political and financial rights in pursuit of fundamental rights. However, the fate of Pakistani woman is fast changing now, and sincere efforts are finally being made at the top level to address the core issues pertaining to the plight of women.

The recently passed Protection of Women Against Violence Bill in the Punjab Assembly is a historic step not only for securing the rights of women but also towards changing the mind-sets of people and development of the province on modern lines. The bill features redressal for female victims of violence; criminalises all forms of violence against women, and provides them with special centres, which remove the bureaucratic hurdles that complicate a woman’s access to justice.

As per the bill, violence has been redefined to mean any offence committed against the human body of the aggrieved person, including abetment of an offence, domestic violence, sexual violence, psychological and emotional abuse, economic abuse, stalking and cybercrime.

Despite the passing of this important bill, I staunchly believe that education is perhaps the only way to empower women and uplift their status in real terms, as education would not only provide them financial assistance but would also widen their mental horizons. Thus, provision of education to every woman on the basis of equality would most certainly change her fate, as it is the only catalyst for development of woman at every level.

Under the guidance of Maryam Nawaz Sharif, all workers of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz have resolved to provide basic education to each and every child of the country. The frequent visits of Maryam to educational institutions, and her personal interest in provision of enabling conducive environment for education has inspired other government administrations to complete the task in an efficient manner. Leading from the front, she has repeatedly expressed her resolve to bring remarkable improvements in the education sector during her party’s tenure and recently-launched schemes that speak volumes of her keen interest and commitment towards this national obligation. It gives me great pleasure as well as inspiration to see influential women contributing towards the betterment of society within their own individual capacity and without any official designation. Benzair Bhutto remains a role model even after her death, and today women like Maryam Nawaz, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and others are great examples as to how commitment to a cause can highlight grave issues and bring about real change in society.

Following the footsteps of Maryam, I have been rigorously working with a non-government organisation named “Faces Pakistan”, which specifically caters to the needs of suppressed women, who have suffered economically, and are victims of gender-based violence. We arrange economic rehabilitation sessions for them, where 400 participating women are briefed about various skills that could help them resettle and earn a livelihood. We recently held an awareness session for domestic workers in which 1,000 participating women were trained about proper procedures concerning domestic work.

Faces Pakistan has been actively involved, and is incessantly engaged with the local community, carrying out pre and pro-development work within the disaster-prone areas by reconstructing and rehabilitation of communities, which suffered under natural calamities like floods and earthquakes. Within the domain of human rights, we have conducted many sessions, abridging the gap between citizens-civil society and government.

With honest organisations like Faces Pakistan, I have taken the responsibility of identifying talented women in Pakistan and providing them a platform to exhibit their work, so they could one day become more exemplary citizens. We all believe in change but we must realise that we need to change ourselves first in order to bring about real change in society. I, in my personal capacity, will continue to fight for the rights of women as well as help them improve their lifestyles, make them aware of their fundamental rights, educate them so they become independent thinkers, provide them opportunities so they could contribute not only to their home but also to the state, and inspire them by leading from the front.

More power to women!