By 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 the patriarchy. 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 finish line by 2030.
It begins with 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.”
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 a power of control on their own lives, both within and outside their homes. 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. 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 men by avoiding all discriminations based on injustice and inequality and must understand the difference between equality and uniformity.
Accordingly, the women are required to have a respectable status in society, importunity to raise their voice, struggle etc. They should be given equal liberty and freedom in their personal affairs, such as, in the case of marriage, vocational pursuit 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.
In Islam the importance of women and their success as human beings, is measured with completely different criteria: their fear of Allah and obedience to Him, and fulfilment of the duties He has entrusted them with, particularly that of 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. 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 in the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) list of women in national parliaments out of 193 countries for 2019. 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 20.46 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.
The opinions in this article are of the writer only and do not represent the views of The Weekly Pakistan.
Dr.Zeeshan Khan is a writer, analyst, doctor, 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 a doctor at CMH and also alumnus Of LUMS.