Islamabad: International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on 8th March each year around the world, reminds us of the heroic struggle waged by women’s rights activists against the anti-women policies and for restoration of women rights. It also provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge the social, economic and political accomplishments of women in different walks of life in line with the country specific- national and international commitments.
There is no denying the fact that participation of the womenfolk is imperative for socio-economic development of a state and society. No headway in this regard can be made without their visible and active participation.
This year’s theme “Empowerment of Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty” calls for level playing field for rural women. The Government fully acknowledges the fact that the women in rural areas are contributing a lot to national economy in diverse ways.
These women are not only responsible for the upbringing of their children but also play a significant role in supplementing the incomes of their families. Their role needs to be both recognized and their participation in informal economy should be documented to craft policies for their welfare and empowerment.
Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) is this government’s flagship program aimed at empowering the rural women economically. Financial support is being provided particularly to the rural women through Benazir Income Support Program (BISP). Wascela-e-Haq, Waecla-e-Rozagar and Wasela-e-Sehat are other major facets of BISP, which are serving as major vehicle for economic empowerment of rural women.
It is in recognition of their services that the present democratic Government declared 5th October as a National Day for Rural Women each year. In addition to this, National Day of Working Women is observed each year on February 12 to pay tribute to their contributions to the national development.
Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto is a powerful symbol of the women empowerment. The cause of women empowerment was close to her heart and she spent her entire life working for attainment of their rights The democratic government is committed to implement Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s vision for empowerment of women in its true spirit.
We have taken a number of legislative, political, economic and administrative reforms in this regard. The 18th Amendment in the Constitution is one of the most significant landmarks in the present democratic era. Under this Amendment, the subject of women’s development was devolved to the provinces. I hope that the provincial governments will make all out efforts for the cause of women in a more proactive manner.
The recent legislative measures passed by the Parliament such as “Women Protection from Harassment at Workplace Act 2010, Amendment in PPC 509, Acid Crime Prevention Act 2011, the Prevention of anti-Women Practices Act 2011 and Fund for Women in Distress and Detention Act 2011.”encompass a wide range of women’s issues like forced marriages, marriage with Quran, denial of right to inheritance acid throwing, harassment at work place etc. These measures are reflective of the government’s commitment and sincere efforts to address women-related issues for their greater participation in the national mainstream.
Recently, the National Commission on the Status of Women has recently been empowered through an Act of Parliament. The Commission will be an autonomous body with more administrative and financial powers, which will enable it to play its mandated role effectively.
On this day, I express the resolve of the federal government to extend support and assistance to the provinces, whenever required, in their endeavours to protect and promote women’s rights in all walks of life. Let us hope the women in Pakistan will enjoy the status they deserve under the Constitution. On the International Day of Women, let us pledge to work even harder for their empowerment.
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