Islamabad: Violence against women is a global phenomenon. It has various forms and manifestations. Violence not only means physical harm and psychological scar but also the degradation of moral, social and human values.
The purpose of observing International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is to raise awareness among the womenfolk about their rights and also to sensitize the society to the imperative of respecting women rights.
The United Nations General Assembly, through its resolution no 54/134 on December 17, 1999, urged the governments, NGOs and human rights groups to observe November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Pakistan joins the world community in observing this day. The phenomenon of violence against women needs to be addressed through holistic policy reform agenda. The government, on its part, is committed to the cause of empowerment of womenfolk and enhancing their status, dignity and prestige in the society.
The introduction of political, legislative and economic reforms is a key to creating conditions essential for empowerment and emancipation of womenfolk. The affirmative action’s on the part of the state and society can help open up vistas of opportunities for women.
Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was a great torch-bearer of the women rights and advocated the cause of their wellbeing at the international fora. In a famous speech she delivered at Beijing on September 4, 1995, Shaheed Mohtarma said that “The plight of women in the developing countries is unspeakable. Hunger, disease, and unremitting toil is their fate. Weak economic growth and inadequate social support systems affect them most seriously and directly.
They are the primary victims of structural adjustment processes, which necessitate reduced state funding for health, education, medical care, and nutrition. Curtailed resource flows to these vital areas impact most severely on the vulnerable groups, particularly women and children. This is not acceptable. It offends my religion. It offends my sense of justice and equity. Above all, it offends common sense.”
I regard the empowerment of women as my personal mission. In line with the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, the present democratic government has taken a number of steps that signal radical change in the status of women.
The government has enacted a number of pro-women laws such as “Protection against Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010”, “The Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Bill 2008”, to enable women to play their unhindered role in national life.
I also declared December 22 to be observed as the “National Day of Women” to highlight the women issues at the national level. We have also announced the conferment of “Fatima Jinnah Awards” on outstanding women in recognition of their meritorious services.
The government has also approved the induction of lady officers in Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force. We have also appointed women to top University and Ambassadorial positions. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister and the Speaker of the National Assembly are women. Benazir Income Support Programme is a premier social safety net, which particularly targets vulnerable women and is playing its role in helping them stand on their feet in economic terms.
Fighting off the anti-women practices requires a participatory approach on the part of the media, religious scholars, academia, opinion makers and civil society organizations. We need to launch dialogue at different levels aimed at espousing the cause of women.
Our great religion Islam emphasizes equality of rights between men and women. The Last Sermon delivered by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) details the rights of women and how important it is for the Muslims to fulfil those.
On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we must make a pledge to keep working for the empowerment of women because it is their empowerment, which would not only eliminate negative tendencies against women but also give them their due status promised by Islam and the Constitution of Pakistan.
For more information, contact:
Haji Ahmed Malik
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Department (PID)
Tel: +9251 925 2323 and +9251 925 2324
Fax: +9251 925 2325 and +9251 925 2326