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Women`s leading role in every sphere of life highlighted

By Our Staff Reporter 2024-02-21
KARACHI: Two-day annual conference of FemConsortia, an alliance of 12 women`s rights organisations and five alliances from across Pakistan, began at a local hotel here on Tuesday.

The consortium evolved as a result of a five-year programme of Oxfama confederation of 21 independent non-governmental organisations focused on alleviation of povertytitled Women`s Voice and Leadership-Pakistan; embracing feminism to sustain transformation achieved at individual, organisational and community levels.

For discussion, papers were assigned to researchers on the topics `Women in politics`, `Women inthe work place`, `Adolescent girls` and `Climate change with a feminist perspective`.

Speaking at the plenary session, the Executive Director of NowCommunities and Convenor of the Conference, Farhat Parveen, who heads the current secretariat of FemConsortia, explained their journey from its formation to the present. She appreciated the forerunners in the struggle for women`s rights and acknowledged the role of male allies and called for the growing of the tribe.

In her opening remarks, the Ombudsperson of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Rakhshanda Naz, spoke of the long struggle of brave women in changing oppressive societal norms which were overturned by the brave women of Pakistan despite vilification and push back.

The detailed presentation of the paper `Women in politics` busted many myths and listed some very clear wins and the valuable role of women in progressive legislation.

The panellists discussing thepaper written by Zeeshan Noel included Salman Abid of the Mumkin Alliance, Iftar Mufti of South Asia Partnership, Pakistan, and former Sindh MPA Mangla Sharma.

They appreciated the findings of the research paper, which clearly showed the strides made by womenin the political sphere, where they even scored many firsts; like the first speaker, foreign minister, prime minister, women`s parliamentary caucus and their role in many women-friendly laws.

The discussion paper on `Adolescent girls` was authored by Rabeea Hadi, and she highlightedthe serious issues faced by young girls and many violations of their rights that lead to physical, mental, emotional and social threats for them.

Thepanellists,SadigaSalahuddin of Indus Resource Centre, Nisma Iqbal of Zindagi Trust, Manize Bano of SAHIL and Robeela Bangash highlighted the different nature of threats they now faced which have not disappeared but evolved into newer ones.

The final plenary, moderated by Uzma Zarrin of Oxfam Pakistan, highlighted the importance of indepth research and conversations on the selected topics.

The panellists Sajjad Abro of SHADE Jaffarabad, Harris Khalique, Secretary General of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Mahnaz Rehman, resident Director of Aurat Foundation, Sarah Zaman, researcher on Violence against Women, and psychologist Asha Bedar acknowledged that most of the problems related to the rights of girls and women stemfrom the role assigned to them as women.

The issues related to their worth, their choices are that despite the patriarchal structures, many young girls have awareness as well as the vocabulary to articulate their issues. The engagement modality has changed because of the political engagement.

The closing remarks to the discussion and question-answer session were made by Professor Farkhunda Aurangzeb, member of the National Commission of Human Rights. She was also Pakistan`s signatory on the Beijing Platform for Action on Women.

The evening concluded with a mushaira, featuring leading poets of the country with a clear feminist stance. It was moderated by Sadia Baloch of NOWCommunities and presided over by Tanveer Anjum.

The conference concludes on Wednesday (today) with a tribute to renowned performing artist Sheema Kermani, which will also include a performance by her.