PESHAWAR: As the world observed International Women’s Day on Sunday, there was nothing but slumber on the provincial government’s front.
Only NGOs and political parties remembered to raise their voice for women who largely remain silent and deprived of their due rights in the patriarchal set-up of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Of rallies and statements
To mark the day, Awami Workers Party (AWP) held a rally in the provincial capital wherein more than 300 people, a majority of them women, marched from Peshawar Press Club to Deans Chowk.
AWP K-P President Shahab Khattak led the march accompanied by local party activists and office-bearers from across the country.
Speaking to journalists, AWP activist Ismat Shah Jehan said militancy, the fight against militancy and military operations have affected women’s lives not just in the tribal areas but in the rest of the country as well.
“Despite the fact that a woman not only takes care of her family but also does more work than a man, she is considered a third-class citizen in Pakistan,” she said. According to Jehan, the AWP has stood up for women’s rights and will not let society exploit them.
Participants termed religious militancy and extremism as the main hurdle in women’s development.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued on Sunday, Awami National Party (ANP) President Asfandyar Wali Khan said women have to work side by side with men for the country’s progress. “No country or society can develop without ensuring equal rights for its women,” he said.
NGOs Basic Education for Awareness, Reforms and Empowerment and the Community Development Unit held a programme to observe women’s day in Swabi.
Students participated in tableaus portraying the lives of rural women while activists speaking on the occasion demanded equal rights, health, job and educational opportunities for them.
Women associated with the Mardan education department and various NGOs attended a function held at Government Girls Middle School Noormankhel Hoti to mark International Women’s Day. Executive District Officer Education Dilshad Begum, along with Nighat Bibi, Farzana Rasool and Azra Hussain Syed were in attendance.
Speakers at the event highlighted the importance of making women aware of their rights. They lamented that although legislations exist in the country to safeguard women’s rights, they are not implemented.
While attending a function organised by South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK), women from the northern district announced they would actively take part in upcoming local government elections.
SAP-PK Coordinator Mohammad Ismail, ANP Chitral President Khadeeja Sardar, PML-N’s Bibi Jan, NADRA Assistant Director Mukhtar Azam Khan among other community leaders spoke at the gathering.
Speakers urged local women to participate in socio-political and economic activities to ensure their problems are brought to the forefront and resolved. The participants also presented a 13-point charter of demands. They asked for giving 33% representation to women and allowing them to contest on general seats, among other demands.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2015.