Shinning faces of Pakistan: Int’l Women’s day
By Mahwish Qayyum
March 8, Pakistan: Pakistan ranked among most dangerous countries for women in the World by Trust Law, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation—witnesses an alarming trend of increasing crimes against women. The country always remained in the limelight for gender-based violence, honor killing, acid attacks, forced prostitution, rape and other heinous crimes committed against women in the country. The rising crime ratio against women has developed a sense of insecurity, inferiority complex and other physical and psychological problems in them.
Talking to The Oslo Times, Shirin Javeed, woman activist, associated with NGO named Aurat Foundation as Program Manager in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa expressed concerned over the plight of women in the country. She said “women in Pakistan are still deprived of their fundamental rights i.e. right to live, right to education, right to health and others. She said that according to the Constitution of Pakistan, “it’s the responsibility of the government to provide basic rights to its citizens including women, but, lamenting that the later is failing in fulfilling its duty.” Although, the government has passed women protection and women specific bills including Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010, Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Bill 2008, Protection against Women at Workplace Bill 2010 and others, but, adding that these laws are not being implemented in its true letter and spirit. She said that “there is no change at grassroots level for improving the state of women in Pakistan.”
The activist said that women lack awareness and added that in order to aware them vis-à-vis their rights, her organization on this International Women’s Day will launch a radio play on “AIDS Prevention” for women.
Rashda Riffat, member of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly from Jamaat-e-Islami—a religious party—said “women in today’s era facing a plethora of problems in Pakistan—ranked at bottom in gender equality, according to a report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) last year. She said men and women are equal, adding that Islam gives a lot of rights to women. She said unfortunately, due to lack of awareness and education, traditions and customs are linked with religion, adding that media—forth pillar of the state—should play its powerful and influence role in empowering the women.
Pakistan is a land of courageous and peace-loving people, not of terrorists and Pakistani women are as valiant as their male counterparts. The World has also recognized the acknowledged the valor of Pakistani superwomen and awarded international award of courage and bravery.
However, this is one side of the coin. Some women in Pakistan, despite all the obstacles, social barriers, criticism and anti-women attitude, succeeded in spreading awareness and protecting women’s rights in a male-dominated society. These are the champs of the country and I dedicate The International’s Women Day 2015 to these shining stars who overcome all the hiccups and brought international awards to the home.
The services and efforts of these women are acknowledged not only at national level but also at international level and are admirable. List of Pakistani superwomen is long but here, I will mention some of them. These include:
Tabassum Adnan—woman activist
Adnan recently won International Women of Courage Award for her services in recognition of her services for women’s rights. She belongs to picturesque Swat valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and remains a victim of child marriage. She got married at the age of 13, but after 20 years divorced her husband.
Later, she started her NGO named Khwendo Jirga, which in English means “Sister’s Council”. The NGO proved as platform for women who use to discuss domestic violence, giving women as compensation for crimes and other issues and sort out solution for these problems. No doubt, she faced a lot of hindrances and predicaments for spreading awareness among women for their rights in rigid Pakhtun society—where females are not allowed to get out of their houses—however, she did not give up and continued to work for women’s rights.
Her tireless efforts brought fruit for her as she has been awarded the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award by US Department of State. The award recognizes women around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk.
Shad Begum—woman activist
Begum—woman activist—hailing from Lower Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is also one of them. She received International Women of Courage Award by United states in 2012 for improving the lives of women. Lower Dir was once a stronghold of militants, however, later army took the control of the area. She worked for women’s rights and it was because of her efforts that legislation criminalizing sexual harassment in the workplace and legislation regarding making it illegal to deprive a woman of her rightful inheritance and other rights approved by the government.
The US State Department introduced Shad Begum as “a courageous human rights activist and leader who has changed the political context for women in the extremely conservative district of Dir.”
Ayesha Farooq—Pakistan’s first war-ready female fighter pilot
The gorgeous, bold and talented Ayesha Farooq, 26, is the Pakistan’s first war-ready female fighter pilot and pride of Pakistan. She belongs to Punjab district and got the training of flying planes to combat terrorism in the wake of Talibanization, extremism and terrorism. She is courageous, aspiration and role model for other women. She proved that women are not inferior in any way and can assist male soldiers to counter the cancer of terrorism which has spread in every nook and corner of the country.
Arfa Kareem—World’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional
The eye-candy and prodigy child Arfa Kareem, belongs to Punjab, is pride of Pakistan who at the age of only nine became the World’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional in 2004. She was invited by Bill Gates to visit Microsoft Headquarters in the US. She was awarded with the President’s Award for Pride of Performance and Fatima Jinnah Gold Medal Salaam Pakistan Youth awards.
However, bad luck met her and the talented child—born in 1995—suffered a cardiac arrest after an epileptic seizure that damaged her brain in 2011 and in 2012 she died at the age of 16. It was not only a reparable loss for her family, but also for the Pakistan and IT industry. Pakistanis will always miss her.
Samina Baig, belongs to Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan area is the first Pakistani woman who got the privileged of scaling Mount Everest at the age of 21. Harsh, chilly weather, fear and difficulties could not stop her and her determination, and she scaled up the mountain in 2013. The adventure-lover mountaineer showed the World that Pakistani women are not far behind from anyone and are courageous and praiseworthy.
These, along with other women, have presented positive image of the country and brought good name of Pakistan in the comity of nations. The nation salutes them and their services. Bravo! Pakistani women, you are in fact not ordinary women, but superwomen.
The Oslo Times