President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday said empowerment of women in Pakistan was linked to their economic independence and awareness about rights particularly related to inheritance, education and healthcare. Addressing a ceremony to mark the International Women’s Day, the president called upon the women to be well-aware of their rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. First Lady Begum Samina Alvi and women trailblazers with major accomplishments in different fields of life attended the event here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, organized by the Ministry of Human Rights in collaboration with UN Women, European Union and Haqooq-e-Pakistan. President Alvi said the country’s laws reiterated the teachings of Islam that focused on ensuring rights of women in all spheres of life. He emphasized on economic empowerment of women to help them thrive in the society with dignity. Without financial independence, there was hardly an independence, he added. He said the country’s laws ensured right of inheritance to women as taught by the religion, however, stressed the need for social reformation to promote the trend. Dr Alvi mentioned that under the socio-welfare Ehsaas programme, women were the direct beneficiaries of the government’s stipend aimed at their uplifting. In terms of ensuring return of loans, he said, the women worldwide had been proved more responsible and reliable compared to the men. He said the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved loan disbursement of Rs 5 million for women to launch their businesses and urged those intending for entrepreneurship to avail the facility. In the healthcare sector, the president emphasized on launch of Tele Health services for women to provide them prompt and free medical advice on telephone. He pointed out that frequent pregnancies resulted in malnutrition of women and newborns, and stressed that breastfeeding for continuous two years could ensure birth spacing. President Alvi said the Muslim traditions were enriched with examples of a balanced society and quoted historian Ibn-e-Khuldun’s book ‘Muqadimah’ that mentioned the golden culture of equality of men and women. Similar traditions, he said, needed to be incorporated in the present day society by providing women an equitable platform to showcase their abilities and professionalism. The president acknowledged the services rendered by the country’s women during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly doctors and paramedics. However, he expressed concern that a large number of professional women doctors left the profession after marriage compared with their 70 percent ratio of enrollment in medical colleges. He stressed the need for a change in the country’s employment structure to accommodate the educated women and help them cope with the needs of both profession and family side by side. He also favoured the women’s more effective electoral representation, decision-making opportunities and safer environment at workplaces sans harassment.
Sohail Anjum Khan