ISLAMABAD: The Prime Minister, Mr Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has pledged to take all possible steps to seek an end to violence perpetrated against women.
In a message on the occasion of International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, the prime minister said, “I urge all stakeholders, including women activists, political leaders, religious scholars and opinion leaders to come forward and play their due role in this regard.”
He said Pakistan was proud to join the world community to observe the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25. He said the day highlighted the various forms of violence and harassment that women had to face in the society to move up the social, economic and political ladder.
“The day draws our attention to the need for accelerating our efforts and joining hands for the resolution of problems facing womenfolk and seeking an end to the practice of violence against them in a creative and proactive manner,” he added.
Mr Gilani said there was no denying that no nation could progress and realise its moral and material objectives without its women joining their men to achieve national development.
“The history of freedom struggle bears witness to the fact that women participated in the Pakistan movement and played a great role to achieve an independent homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent,” he added.
In his speech at Islamia College for Women on March 25, 1940, Quaid-e-Azam had paid a glowing tribute to women in historic words. “I have always maintained that no nation can ever be worthy of its existence that cannot take its women along with the men. No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men. There are two powers in the world, one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.”
The premier pointed out that Islam conferred the same set of rights on women as it does on men without any discrimination on the basis of gender.
Mr Gilani said Islam had ordained its followers to respect women and treat them most gently in a humane way, adding the Islamic history was replete with examples of Muslim women playing their roles in the mainstream national life.
He said those who used religion to justify their opposition to women’s advancement in fact violated the fundamental teachings of Islam.
“Our leader Benazir Bhutto, a woman herself, was a great champion of women’s rights and the subject of women’s emancipation and empowerment was dear to her heart,” he said, adding that she struggled relentlessly for conferment of rights on Pakistani women.
The prime minister said the government of Pakistan People’s Party was bound to take her legacy forward.
“We believe that the objective of women’s empowerment would remain a pipedream and they would continue to be vulnerable to different forms of exploitation and violence unless their economic and political well being is not achieved.” Mr Gilani said the government had introduced critical political, administrative, and legislative reforms to attain this objective.
The enactment of “The Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010’ represented a giant step forward in the journey towards women’s empowerment and the PPP was rightly proud of this rare feat in line with its promise.
He said the government had also increased the women’s quota for recruitment to the federal services by 10 percent. The increased participation of women in the public sector would enable them to attain economic independence, he added.
The PM said Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), the largest social safety net, was a world-acclaimed initiative of the government that focused on women.
The women of rural hinterland happened to be the major beneficiaries of this programme, which sought to enable them to stand on their feet, he added.