Women hold up half the sky

The National Commission on the Status of Women Bill, 2012, was finally passed by the National Assembly on Thursday. After many a hiccup due to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N’s) obstructionist stance, through the efforts of National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza and other women parliamentarians, the bill finally passed into law. It now has to negotiate the Senate to become an Act. It is hoped that enlightened views will prevail in the Upper House. Being a signatory of many covenants related to women’s rights, Pakistan needs to act responsibly in this regard. The procedures and powers in the bill were discussed and finally it was approved by the National Assembly. It seems that the appointment of a chairperson would be a consensus figure enjoying the support of both sides of the House — the treasury and the opposition. The National Commission on the Status of Women would be tasked with the promotion of the social, economic, political and legal rights of women as enshrined in the constitution.

Patriarchy afflicts Pakistani society. Chairman Mao acknowledged that women hold up half the sky but most Pakistani men clearly think otherwise. In today’s world, no society can realise its full potential until it achieves women’s empowerment. This is the sine qua non for women to achieve their full potential. The traditionalist concept of ‘chaadar aur chaar-diwaari’ (chador and the four walls) needs to be eliminated once and for all. A rational, enlightened and progressive society is one where the right values and principles of equality are upheld. For this, economic empowerment of women is critical. It goes to the credit of the present government that it has been able to pass many pro-women laws but it needs to be reiterated that commissions and bodies are formed left, right and centre but often their impact on the ground is conspicuous by its absence. The real task is follow-up action, implementation of the laws, and actually changing the lives of the women in Pakistan for the better.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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