Father of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah once said: “No Nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you; we are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against women humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live.” Since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Pakistan inherited the menace of poverty. The burden of this poverty was put heavily on the female population. Women were neglected and under-nourished. All the governments had tried in one form or the other but could not make a very happy progress because of various reasons. In a globalising world gender equality and empowerment of women are vital tools to achieve the sustainable development therefore it’s very important to bring women into main stream so that they can play its role in the development of the country.
Women comprise more than 50 percent of Pakistan’s total population. Despite this, on an average, the situation of Pakistani women vis-à-vis men is one of systemic gender subordination, although there have been attempts by the government and enlightened groups to elevate their status in society. Women’s role in the country’s progress is as crucial as that of men, the government’s vision of transforming Pakistan into a modern and developed state, as envisioned by the founding father of the nation, could not be realized if women making half of the country’s population were ignored.
Pakistan’s present Government as per its manifesto considers it a national duty to protect the interests of women and provide them equal opportunities without any discrimination. The government strongly believes that the country could not make progress without providing equal opportunities to women which were half part of society. The government is committed to ensuring empowerment of women as their participation in all walks of life is necessary for sustainable development. The Government believes that effective participation of women, in political and practical fields, is essential to make Pakistan a strong and dignified country in the comity of nations. Present government had taken historic steps during the last three years for the social and economic empowerment of women along with effective legislation to address women’s issues with a view to safeguard their rights. Moreover, for the promotion and protection of women rights, to restore the personal security and dignity of women and to give them protection at workplace, the Government has taken deliberate and conscious steps like reservations of 10 percent quota for females, on the political side, reservation of thirty three percent seats for women in all local bodies more than 36,000 women councilors, 17 percent seats have been reserved for women in the constituent Assembly, Senate, Provincial Assembly and in national assembly.
To tackle the issues of harassment and to eliminate the gender based violence. Current government has taken many measures to enhance the participation of women in economic sphere. In line with federal Government efforts to empower women, the Punjab Assembly unanimously approved the Protection of Women against Violence Bill, calling for an end to all criminalities against women, such as, domestic violence, acid attack, rape, psychological and economic abuse, stalking, and cyber-crimes. The 31 clauses of the new bill provide an efficient system for complaint registration and penalties for offenders. According to the clauses, a toll-free helpline (UAN number) will be launched to receive direct complaints. It also calls for the creation of protection centres and shelters homes, where conflicts and misunderstandings can be settled and help partners reach reconciliation. The bill has magnificently covered all the critical must-have consolidated statutes dealing with violence and crafted the complaint system easier than ever. It’s certainly a milestone towards women rights, empowerment and gender equality. There is now no justification to continue the smear campaign against this important act, which is a right step towards protecting the dignity and self-respect of women. Islam does not allow any form of violence rather it has given an elevated status to women. Therefore any step taken towards their empowerment and protection should not be politicised as they constitute half of the population and their participation in all walks of life is critical for socio-economic uplift of the country. In many Islamic countries including Malaysia and Turkey, women are working shoulder to shoulder with men for the development of their countries yet in our country resistance against participation of women would not serve any purpose for the forward march of the country.