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NCSW Commemorates National Women’s Day At Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University

Feb 12, 2018

PESHAWAR, Monday, February 12, 2018: Girls of Shaheed Benzir Bhutto Women university were encouraged to have their votes registered and to ensure informed decisions while casting their votes in the next elections, at a seminar jointly organized by National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University (SBBWU) to commemorate National Women Day on Monday.

The event stated with screening of a documentary on history of women rights movement and the episodes that led to establishment of Women Action Forum. On February 12, 1983, Punjab Women Lawyers Association in Lahore organized a public protest against the Proposed Law of Evidence where participating members, mostly women, were beaten, teargassed, and arrested by police. The day is now commemorated as National Women’s Day.

This year, NCSW and SBBWU jointly organized a seminar to celebrate women’s struggle in the democratic process. Parliamentarians, civil society representatives, human rights activists, academicians and large number of students participated in the event. The event started with Fatiha for Asma Jahangir. All speakers paid rich tribute to Asma for her fearless struggle for women rights movement in Pakistan.  

In her welcome remarks, Vice Chancellor Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University (SBBWU) Dr Razia Sultana said that despite challenges, there is a strong drive in the society to educate daughters and bring them into the workforce.  “Challenges hold opportunities and threats make you stronger, so never give up against challenges and threats.” She urged the students to use power of vote to elect the best candidate for the country.

Executive Member NCSW Dr Human Qureshi introduced the NCSW mandate and functions to the participants. She emphasized on the importance of girl students to follow their dreams and asked them to remember the sacrifices of those who initiated the movement and stood strong with women rights.

The welcome remarks were followed by a panel discussion chaired by Chairperson Department of Gender Studies, University of Peshawar, Anosh Khan and participated by Chairperson Provincial Commission on the Status of Women Neelum Toru, Samina Afridi from University of Peshawar, former Chairperson PCSW Zubaida Kahtun, Gulalai from Khawandakor, Chair for Paimaan and member NCSW Mussarat Qadeem.   

Chairperson PCSW KP Neelum Toru said that democracy and basic human rights go hand in hand and women’s absence from democratic process lays foundation of a much weaker and superficial democracy.  She identified registration of identity cards, male dominancy, mobility, control of Jirga and security issues major challenges in the way of women political participation. She said PCSW is engaging with Election Commission and NADRA and involving the district committees of PCSW to mobilize women for next elections.

Former Chairperson PCSW KP Zubaida Khatun encouraged students to be aware of where they stand as nation and what are the issues faced by women. She suggested speeding up women empowerment through special measures. She stressed for more and more women into issue based politics.    

Dr. Samina Afridi talked about struggle of women in FATA. “Women participation in political process in FATA, according to standard definition, is in embryonic stage but as far as individual struggle for basic right is concerned, we have icons and role models who are making real change.”

She said that existing legal framework in FATA legalizes customary practice in FATA. “But things are changing. Women are becoming part of Jirgas,” she said adding that women shall start taking responsibility for change instead of adopting the role of a victim.

Mussarat Qadeem said democratic struggle is not limited to political process. “We practice democracy in our daily life.” She shared her dreams of seeing women as elected members instead of activists. She suggested mentorship of women within political parties and urged Higher Education Commission to introduce course of women leadership in curriculum.   

The event also featured screening of awareness documentaries, a song by Mahnoor Jadoon dedicated to women struggling for their rights and a skit focusing on girl’s education. 

At the end Member NCSW Marryam Bibi gave the closing remarks, by thanking the all the panelists and participants of the event.  

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