Empowering Women – A Key To Societal Transformation

Women’s economic empowerment in any society is central to realizing their rights and enabling them to equally participate in businesses, setting up entrepreneur, control over productive resources and economic decision-making

By Dr. Saeed Ahmad Ali:

Women’s economic empowerment in any society is central to realizing their rights and enabling them to equally participate in businesses, setting up entrepreneur, control over productive resources and economic decision-making.
As the world changes from conventional to digital mode, imparting them training on the latest techniques can also have a trickledown effect on our younger generation making it healthier, more sensible and more productive for a secure future.
Acknowledged internationally this priority is at the heart of the policies of all important institutions including the World Bank as mentioned in its report “Women, Business and the Law 2022.”
Presenting an index covering the potential of around 190 economies and structured around the life cycle of working women, the World Bank, in the overall count, has awarded Pakistan a 55.6 score out of 100. However, in terms of laws affecting women's decisions to work, Pakistan secures a perfect score of 100.
Therefore, respective provincial governments in the country are now focusing other areas to improve on the international score card with Punjab already taking number of steps for women empowerment.
“Punjab government took number of initiatives for legal and economic empowerment of women,” said former spokesperson for Punjab Government, Mussarat JamshaidCheema. “Punjab Women Development Department had embarked on initiatives like women employment, entrepreneurship, decision-making, property ownership, education and vocational training.”
Since implementation of decision relates to government departments, therefore despite dissolution, the Women Development Department (WDD) is carrying forward the agenda of enhanced women participation in different arena of life.
“Women participation is imperative for nation building and prosperity of our country. Therefore, keeping aloof half of country’s population from this process would be no service to nation,” she stated.
Women Development Department (WDD) of the Punjab government in recent years took number of initiatives to ensure adequate and considerable representation of women in the government service.
“Presently, 14 percent women are working in provincial government departments,” said an official at WDD. “The government has also made it mandatory to ensure presence of at least one woman in selection committees in all departments.”
The Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) has also acknowledged that the provincial government was ensuring women empowerment and protection of their rights through capacity building of all local government incumbents regarding new laws about women.
With a cost of Rs. 87.937 million, PCSW had initiated training sessions for Nikah Registrars to train them on legal drafts, amendments, policies, registration, rights and proper filling of Nikah Nama.
These Master Trainers have imparted training to Nikah Registrars and Local Government Officials in respective districts also providing them copies of 28,000 manuals during training sessions.
The training session also covered topics about important amendments in laws related to Birth Registration, Muslim Family Laws, Inheritance and Marriage Restraint Act, Child Marriage Act and Women Protection Act.
“This activity would ensure protection of women rights and their safety against exploitation and discrimination at the time of Nikah and in case of divorce,” said Mufti Zubair Ahmad from Jamia Ashrafia.
The provincial administration has also envisioned a residency program across the province named ‘Transitional Housing’ (Second-Stage Housing) - for women who are victims of violence. This project would provide support services to victims or affected women and is designed as a bridge to self-sufficiency.
Despite all these initiatives, some of the human rights activists have strongly advocated to protect rights of female agriculture workers.
“Agricultural sector bears pivotal importance in our economy and employs millions of female workers. Therefore, it may be given the status of an industry to ensure better wages to female workers,” said Bushra Khaliq, Executive Director at an NGO ‘Women in Struggle for Empowerment (WISE).’
“Since women are key contributors in the progress of agricultural economy, food security and overall economic growth, therefore rights of female agrarian workers must be protected on priority,” she said. “Household workers and agrarian workwomen are the most vulnerable segments and deserve immediate attention.”
Although different projects are underway, the experts still believe that educating women to certain level can be the best service for protecting their rights.
“Education is a key to empowerment. Educated women and girls can better contribute in national development as well as effectively protect their rights,” said noted educationist Professor Dr. Fakhar-ul-Haq Noori.
“No nation can progress by confining its half of the population at home,” she said. “Women must be equipped with modern education, ensured equal rights and provided unbiased opportunities to excel in all walks of life,” Noori said.
She also underlined the need for creating an encouraging environment especially for rural women to participate in decision-making, trade unions, public speaking, cooperatives and related associations.
Since a lot Hinduism era practices still reflect in out societal behaviors, therefore it is shared responsibility of clerics and religious scholars to promote Islamic concepts especially those related to women rights as no other religion gives more rights to women than islam.
As a second step, concerned authorities must diligently pursue women empowerment agenda ensuring that all laws framed in this regard are fully implemented to generate desired results.