Islamabad: Pakistan prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has said the government is committed to the cause of empowerment of womenfolk and enhancing their status, dignity and prestige in the society. In a message on International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women falling on November 25, he said violence against women is a global phenomenon.
It has various forms and manifestations and violence not only means physical harm and psychological scar but also the degradation of moral, social and human values, he said adding 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.
He said the United Nations General Assembly, through its Resolution No 54/134 on December 17, 1999, urged the governments, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and human rights groups to observe November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
He said Pakistan joins the world community in observing this day and the phenomenon of violence against women needs to be addressed through holistic policy reform agenda.
The Prime Minister said the introduction of political, legislative and economic reforms is a key to creating conditions essential for empowerment and emancipation of womenfolk.
The affirmative actions on the part of the state and society can help open up vistas of opportunities for women, he said adding Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was a great torch-bearer of the women rights and advocated the cause of their well-being at the international fora.
Gilani said 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.
The Prime Minister said 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,” he added.
The Prime Minister said, “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, he added.
The Prime Minister said, “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.”
He said the government has 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, he added.
“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.”