Rural Women’s Day: Fiza Gilani calls for an end to male dominance

In order to strengthen the voice of rural women, the Potohar Organisation for Development Advocacy (PODA) in collaboration with Lok Virsa and 55 other organisations held a festival-cum-conference to mark the ‘Rural Women Day’, with a theme ‘From food security to peace and security’.
Goodwill Ambassador for Women Empowerment Fiza Batool Gilani the inaugurated the two-day event at the Lok Virsa premises, where she called for changing the mindset of male dominance. “We have to change the social environment constrained by a mindset of male dominance as a woman not only contributes for her family but also work as an agent of change of society.”
The festivities include artisans at work featuring master craft women from different parts of the country with their tools, finished and semi-finished products; promotional stalls by NGOs working for empowerment of women in Pakistan, a conference to focus on the women’s issues; audio visual presentations on women issues as well as a musical performance.
In her address, Fiza said, “I would like to express my sincere appreciation for Lok Virsa, PODA and other partners for their services to highlight and recognise contributions of rural women in the national life. Women constitute 51 percent of our total population and most of them live in villages and far-flung areas. No doubt, rural women contribute towards the development of the country and their input cannot be ignored.”
Fiza, who is daughter of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, assured the participants that the present government of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was determined to take every possible step for their uplift and betterment giving them a respectable position in the society. “According to the vision of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, the government is ensuring equality in all fields to enable women to play their effective role in socio-economic development of the country.”
Fiza said the government had planned to allocate ownership of land to female serfs in Sindh and while women would be given 10 percent quota in jobs. “The present government is planning to accord an autonomous status to the National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW). A bill was introduced in the parliament just two days ago and we are hopeful about its early passage in the next session,” Gilani said. Talking about the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) initiated in 2009, she said the government had already focused rural women with 70 percent of them from rural areas.
“Over 60 million families are identified through a survey to provide support to all of them,” she added. “Only yesterday, the National Assembly has passed a bill for the protection of rights of women in distress and detention. The bill was introduced in 1996 during the government of late Benazir Bhutto, and passed after 14 years,” the goodwill ambassador said.
Talking about health facilities in rural areas, Fiza said over 90,000 lady health workers (LHW) were deputed for immunisation to women and children. “Skill development centres will be established to provide rural women an edge to work independently and to help promoting their work and small level business,” she said. “We have to nurture our children in a way that a girl could be as useful in making the society just like a boy could contribute,” she concluded.
In his message for the day, Prime Minister Gilani said, “We salute the rural women of Pakistan on this day. Let us pause and think about the crucial roles rural women play in reducing poverty and hunger and contributing towards social stability in their communities. I encourage all Pakistanis to join with the rest of the world in celebrating the achievements of rural women; to acknowledge where more work needs to be done, and to commit to finding solutions. If the rural women of Pakistan are prosperous and happy, Pakistan will also be prosperous and happy. Let us all try to make this dream a reality.”
In her message, Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza felicitated the rural women around the world including Pakistan for their contribution in feeding, nurturing and being a major factor in the development of their nations. In his welcoming remarks, Lok Virsa Executive Director Khalid Javaid said Lok Virsa was the first national organisation which stood behind PODA and supported them in organising a number of cultural and promotional activities to mark the International Rural Women Day in a most befitting manner.
A large number of people from different walks of life, in particular women thronged to the venue, expressed solidarity with the rural women and paid rich tributes to them for their untiring efforts and contribution in the development of the country.



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