“Remove cultural barriers to the development of women”
LAHORE: Speakers at a symposium held at the University of the Punjab (PU) here on Thursday said empowering women should not be seen as a man against a woman or a West against an East, but rather as give the rights they are due to all the human beings they deserve.
Speaking at the symposium “Women’s Economic Empowerment: Evidence-Based Policy” organized by PU’s Economics Department, they said there was a need to break down cultural barriers to give space to women and that women should also learn to respect other women.
PU Vice-Chancellor Prof Niaz Ahmad, MPA Mussarat Jamshed Cheema, Home Economics University VC Prof Dr Kanwal Ameen, Okara University VC Prof Dr Zakria Zakar, Chairman Department of Economics Prof Dr Mumtaz Anwar Chaudhry, members of civil society , faculty members and students attended the event.
Professor Niaz Ahmad said that there are different levels in any society and without understanding the social system, which has an important role, gender issues cannot be resolved. He said that as a VC he didn’t think women were inferior to men. He said that in an important administrative post, where he could appoint men, he appointed women and they never disappointed him in handling administrative affairs and they did their job excellently.
The VC said the situation regarding women’s rights in Pakistan was much better than a few years ago. He said that we elected Benazir Bhutto as the first woman prime minister of the Islamic world and Fahmida Mirza as the president of the National Assembly which has functioned well. He said that we should prefer to educate women if we want to educate our nation and our society.
Mussarat Jamshed Cheema said women should be empowered in Pakistan and they should work side by side with men.
She said that if we promoted the idea of “partnership” instead of “competition” and avoided thinking of men over women, we could achieve better results. She said that we need to train our children so that they can respect the mothers, sisters, daughters of others. She said the government was working for the well-being of women and as there were many women in parliaments, they were making laws for women’s rights.
Dr Kanwal Ameen said that we all need to learn to respect women as women and appreciate their role in socio-economic development. She said that women’s economic empowerment did not ensure that they were truly empowered and obtained rights. For example, she said, maids working in homes earned for their husbands who were mostly drug addicts. She said they were always beaten by their husbands.
Professor Dr Zakria Zakar said that in a patriarchal structure some sanctions were imposed on women and if removed women would emerge and play a role in development. He said that we have restricted the social space for women and that if we remove cultural barriers, the situation of women’s rights would improve further. Professor Dr Mumtaz Anwar Chaudhry and others also spoke.