Begum Samina Alvi, wife of President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday terming talented women the ‘future of Pakistan’ said their inclusion in decision-making and equal job opportunities was crucial for the country’s progress.
Speaking here at an event to mark ‘International Women’s Day’, she said the day serves as an important opportunity to reflect on the challenges that stand in the way of women’s rights.
Samina Alvi said women being the country’s fifty percent population still had a long way to go in terms of their inclusion and empowerment.
“Pakistan can only progress with the participation of women in all fields of life, particularly in trade, business, FinTech (financial technology), digitalization, and finance,” she said.
She emphasized programmes by national and international agencies to set up micro-enterprises, women’s chambers, and industrial academia linkages.
According to Global Gender Gap Index Report 2022, she said, Pakistan ranked low in economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, and health and survival, but was placed higher in political empowerment.
She quoted the country’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah as saying that “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you.”
Despite a number of challenges, she said, women in Pakistan always showed strength of character and resilience.
She mentioned several iconic women that broke barriers and shattered stereotypes including the UN Human Rights Award winner Begum Ra’ana Liaqat Ali Khan, the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional Arfa Karim at nine, Pakistan Air Force’s first woman pilot Mariam Mukhtar, a visually-impaired diplomat at the United Nations Saima Saleem, mountaineer Samina Baig who scaled seven peaks, and Shamim Akhtar, a woman truck driver.
Begum Alvi said Pakistan was taking concrete steps to provide women equal opportunities to excel.
In this regard, she highlighted the National Policy for the Development and Empowerment of Women, a National Action Plan on Human Rights, Gender Equality Policy Frameworks, and Women’s Empowerment Packages.
She also outlined several steps taken under the patronage of President Dr Arif Alvi and herself in the social sector, especially on breast cancer awareness, financial inclusion of women, persons with disabilities, and issues related to mental health.
Former Federal Ombudsperson for Protection Against Harassment Kashmala Tariq called the need for raising a strong voice against harassment and exclusion of women to help them mainstream in decision-making bodies.
She recalled that during her tenure as Ombudsperson, she effectively raised awareness about harassment which witnessed a significant increase in the registration of cases from five to 5,000 per month.
She stressed economic emancipation and equal opportunities for women to overcome domestic violence.
Former President of Islamabad Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries Naima Ansari said educating and investing in young women was important for their progress in all fields.
Ayla Majid, South Asia’s first woman vice president of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), spoke about promoting the role of women in governance.
Begum Samina Alvi along with other women cut a cake in celebration of International Women’s Day.