ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday said financial empowerment of women in Pakistan with their equal access to education and health services was vital in ensuring gender equality.
“A financially strong, educated and healthy woman can act as a firm pillar of the society and also a symbol of real emancipation,” he said in an event organized by Oxfam Pakistan, marking its 50 years of contribution relating to gender justice.
President Alvi stressed the responsibility of society in maintaining gender equality and mentioned that several cultural practices were contributing to discrimination against women in the country.
He pointed out that by denying women their due rights, society was ignoring Islam’s basic ethos of enlightenment on matters including the inheritance of property.
In view of the cases of domestic violence and honour killing, Dr Alvi said that shifting the “burden of honour to women alone could not justify the exploitation against them.
He said coordinated prevention and response initiatives at the levels of government, civil society, and individuals could address the issues of gender inequality.
Through advocacy on women’s rights, society could be sensitized to adopting positive gender norms and ensuring public space for women.
He said Pakistan already had several laws on women empowerment, however, said that further pro-women legislation would improve the situation.
President Alvi proposed finding out tools to empower women such as incentivization of education and their part-time engagement in employment in case they managed their families simultaneously.
He said digital inclusion could bring about a big change in the life of a woman by helping her choose an online job, to earn a livelihood.
He also urged the women to avail the financial opportunities offered by banks for start-ups and small businesses.
Charge d’affaires Australian High Commission Bryze David Hutchesson terming gender discrimination a global challenge said Australia was at the frontline in ensuring emancipation of women that remained under-represented at forums, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.
He acknowledged the steps taken by President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan in ensuring the implementation of legislation especially relating to women’s property inheritance rights, setting up of special courts for trial of rape cases, and appointment of Justice Ayesha Malik as the first woman judge of Supreme Court.
He said Australia was a longstanding partner of Pakistan on gender equality and also supported the country chapter of the Male Champions of Change besides training professionals on law and journalism regarding gender violence.
Executive Director Oxfam International Gabriela Bucher in a video message said Oxfam’s 350,000 “agents of change” across Pakistan were a real force of change.
She said to ensure an equal future for women, Oxfam was focusing on women’s representation in the political arena, addressing issues of forced child marriages and workplace harassment.
Chairperson Women Caucus Sindh Assembly Rana Ansar narrated her story of struggle and success from being a community member to becoming a political figure.
A video documentary was screened showcasing Oxfam’s journey of impact during 50 years of gender justice in Pakistan.
Later, the president also visited the stalls set up on the occasion highlighting the stories of courage and resilience of women to fight violence and emerge as an economically empowered people.