Dr. Zeeshan Khan |
Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about humankind. International Women’s Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level.”
The world has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation may feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many feminists from the 1970’s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy.
International Women’s Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level.
With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse.
The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, has helped to create a historic legacy of internationally agreed strategies, standards, programmes and goals to advance the status of women worldwide. Over the years, the UN and its technical agencies have promoted the participation of women as equal partners with men in achieving sustainable development, peace, security, and full respect for human rights.
Achieving a gender-equal world requires social innovations that work for both women and men and leave no one behind. From urban planning that focuses on community safety to e-learning platforms that take classrooms to women and girls, affordable and quality childcare centres, and technology shaped by women, innovation can take the race for gender equality to its finishing line by 2030.
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It begins by making sure that women’s and girls’ needs and experiences are integrated at the very inception of technology and innovations. Quaid-e-Azam said in a speech in 1944, “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.”
The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about humankind.
Women empowerment refers to the ability of women to transform economic and social development when empowered to fully participate in the decisions that affect their lives through leadership, training, coaching consulting and the provision of enabling tools for women to lead within their communities, religions and countries. Women empowerment generally has three components.
Firstly, women’s sense of self-worth. secondly, their rights to have the power of control over their own lives, both within and outside the home. Lastly, their ability to influence the direction of social change to create a just social and economic order nationally, internationally and universally. Empowerment has multiple, interrelated and interdependent dimensions: economic, social, personal and political dimensions.
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Economic empowerment means to empower women economically by giving her rights of properties, lands, financial responsibilities, adequate shares in jobs, business opportunities, etc. In social dimensions, it means women’s social status should be uniform to that of a man by avoiding all discrimination based on injustice and inequality and must understand the difference between equality and uniformity. Accordingly, women should receive a respectable status in society, the opportunity to raise their voices, struggle, etc.
They should be given equal liberty and freedom in their personal affairs, such as, in case of marriage, vocational pursui, etc. As a whole, women empowerment aims at providing women with their social, economic, political and personal rights. Different laws have been passed for women like the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act (2010), Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (2008) and Hudood Ordinance (1979) but their implementation is the real task.
Quaid-e-Azam said in a speech in 1944, “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you; we are victims of evil customs.
In Islam, the importance of women and their success as human beings is measured through a number of ways their fear of Allah and obedience to Him, and fulfilment of the duties. He has entrusted them with bearing, rearing and teaching children. Nevertheless, Islam is a practical religion and responds to human needs and life situations. Many women need or wish to work for various reasons. For example, they may possess a needed skill, such as a teacher or a doctor.
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While Islam does not prohibit women working outside her home, it does stipulate that the following restrictions be followed to protect the dignity and honour of women and the purity and stability of the Islamic society, the conduct of women, after all, is the backbone of any society. Pakistan is listed as 101 out of 193 countries in the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) list of women in national parliaments for 2019.
Empowerment has multiple, interrelated and interdependent dimensions: economic, social, personal and political dimensions.
The only positive development thus far has remained the relatively large representation of women in parliament in comparison to other countries. Currently, there are 70 women Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) in Pakistan – 60 on reserved seats, nine on general and one on a minority seat. This makes up for 20 percent of the total representation of women in the House of 342. The political growth of a country requires both male and female participation in government affairs.
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Last Women’s day in Pakistan has been pathetic and somewhat vulgar due to certain groups and foreign-funded NGOs. Feminism holistically is a good concept but we should understand the difference between Liberal Feminism and Radical Feminism. Liberal Feminism talks of women empowerment and other pertinent issues but Radical Feminism only talks of conflict and negativity.
The role of media was also not seen constructive but nonsense posters and obscene slogans were reported. Government must take strict notice about vulgarity and sensationalism. Women esteem must never be compromised but their humility in front of vested interests must also not be allowed.
Dr. Zeeshan Khan is a writer, educationist, Human Activist, Blogger, certified trainer and Poet. He is a motivational speaker, Cultural-cum-Political Analyst and regular contributor to the Op-Ed pages of different newspapers. He is also Doctor at CMH and Alumnus Of LUMS. Twitter: @DrZeeshanKhanA1. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.