“Little but important gains in regards to realisation of women’s rights have been made in the past few year. Overall the progress has been mixed and fallen short of expectations,” Naseer Memon, chief executive officer of Strengthening Participatory Organisation said on Friday.
He was addressing an event organised to mark the organisation’s efforts for 20 years to promote women’s empowerment and social justice, strengthening civil society, democracy and governance. The programme was held at Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture in connection with the International Women’s Day.
The speakers spoke about the way forward and discussed recent legislations.
Memon said the lack of access to drinking water continued to exacerbate the burden of water collection for many women and young girls, and women were still grossly under-represented in national parliaments.
Highlighting SPO’s role in inclusion of women in its thematic interventions and role of the government, Memon said that the recent report on millennium development goals had shown that Pakistan’s progress on rights of women and girls had been mixed.
The goals have played an important role in bringing attention to resources for gender equality and women’s empowerment, he said.
He said he proud to see how there had been an improvement in girls’ access to primary education. The progress, he said, had had a deep impact on the lives of many women.
He also said advancement had varied dramatically from province to province, and for the most marginalised groups.
The organisation’s regional head Salman Abid congratulated women from Lahore’s periphery for their efforts.
Dr Mubarik Ali talked about women’s contributions in Pakistan’s history.
Neelam Hussain, executive coordinator at Simorgh Women Resource and Publication Centre, talked about her views on challenges faced by women during the struggle movement. She said that women would continue striving for their rightful status in the society.
Dr Sarah Shahed, head of the Gender and Development Studies Department at the Lahore College for Women University, highlighted the scope of women’s studies and SPO’s role in student development process. She said the International Women’s Day served as a reminder for recognition of women’s rights. She said it was also an opportunity for women to articulate their political and social aspirations to contribute to community building.
Shazia Shaheen, programme specialist at the SPO, also spoke at the event.
College and university students, women’s rights activists, and members of the civil society from Mianwali, Khushab and Gujranwala districts also attended the event.
Recognition awards were distributed among close associates of the organisation and workers for their contribution.
The event was followed by a theatre performance. Later musician/singer Rafaqat Ali Khan performed to pay homage to women.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2014.