'Role of women needs to be prioritised in Pakistani society'

Activists discuss gender roles, inclusion of women in society


Our Correspondent March 28, 2017
During the two-day workshop, participants noted that prevailing mindset can be changed through education and training to promote female empowerment.

KARACHI: Women's rights and activism is the new order that prevails in the world today while historically, none of the leading countries of the world has given women their due rights.

This was the crux of the talk, 'Inclusion Panel Discussion on Gender Roles', held at the former residence of the American Consul-General in Karachi.

Human and labour rights activist Iqbal Dehto and human rights activist Madiha Latif shared their views on the issues faced by women during the talk on Monday.

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"When I moved back to Pakistan, I came to know that women here are not taken seriously," Latif said, adding that in general, a woman is not considered to be a leader.

Dehto blamed the hierarchy in family life to be the cause of concern in this regard. "Females are told to contest elections, but urged not to hold a given seat," Dehto said.

He also said that sexual harassment at workplacea is predominantly happening in the public sector, despite there being a law against it. "The law is only there on paper," he said.

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Latif was of the view that the cultural mindsets need to be addressed. "The State narrative is also important," said Latif.

"More than the cultural mindset, the ideologies need to be addressed as they stem from our core traditions," said Dehto, citing an example of Tharparkar where the eldest born male of the household is served food first, then the elderly member of the family, then the children and lastly, the females of the household.

"History terms Pakistan's Constitution as gender insensitive, however, the French constitution also was," said Dehto, adding that issues of women's rights, voting rights and sexual harassment are global concerns.

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"Laws have disproportionately affected the women of Pakistan. From the Hudood Ordinance to the inheritance law, nothing protects their rights," Latif said.

"Husbands and wives need to split their responsibilities and start a conversation to understand each other and their limitations," asserted Latif while speaking about finding a solution to the problem.

Family as an institution has a central part to play, but the debate lies in giving women a better standing in a society where power lies with the men, believed Dehto.

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