ISLAMABAD: With the general elections just a few months away, political parties of the country were urged on Monday to include women’s health and hygiene into their manifestos.
This was suggested by speakers during a day-long deliberation on gender equality along with the rights for maternal and reproductive health under the first “#HackThePad: Women Health and Hygiene Conference” organised by iCube, an organisation working for women empowerment through entrepreneurship, in collaboration with Peace University, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Motorway Police, and Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentarian Services (PIPS) on Monday.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker and Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Climate Change Romina Khursheed Alam said that even though women’s health has a direct bearing on upcoming generations, they were mired in traditional social taboos.
“Women in Pakistan are living a life of fear and subjugation in many forms at many different levels, and we cannot even discuss or talk about the problems they face, so there is a need to break this vicious cycle,” she said, adding that there was a need to raise awareness at the grassroots levels to create an impact.
SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri suggested that political parties focus on attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and include women health and hygiene as an election promise in their respective manifestos.
“We cannot achieve health-related SDGs unless we empower our women by giving them their due rights, providing them education and involving them in the decision-making process,” he added.
Peace University Director Ziad Khan said that it was unfortunate how issues such as women’s health and hygiene are not talked about or addressed the way they should be and the fact that something as natural as breathing is considered taboo requires introspection.
Moreover, Ziad pointed out that around 97 per cent of the women are victims of malnutrition in Pakistan.
“The Pakistani society is going through a formative phase where we have a chance and a responsibility to solve problems through entrepreneurship, technology and advocacy as a personal initiative,” he added.
Railways Police Inspector General (IG) Dr Mujeebur Rehman called for a change in attitudes and actions towards women and ensure an enabling working environment where women can harness their true potential.
He went on to add that a woman with poor health impacts negatively her family and subsequently impacts the whole society.
Motorway Police Additional IG Khalid Mahmood talked about the need to revamp organizational structures to include provisions for women and their unique role in the society.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2018.