Thursday, March 1, 2012

Women: a force to reckon with

MQM set another trend in Pakistan’s politics by linking women empowerment with the strength of Pakistan; but this was not the only trend they set with this gathering! The gathering in Karachi on February 19th 2012 was the largest political women gathering ever held in Pakistan by any political party. The presence of 1 million women in gathering sent a clear message to many political powers which are against women empowerment in Pakistan. This colorful event showed that women in Pakistan are ready to work for the betterment of Pakistan.

Recently some parties have been actively arranging women rallies like PPP held a rally in Oct.2011 in Lahore led by Senator Babar Awan in which he criticised the politics of Mian Nawaz Sharif rather than addressing the real women’s issues. In Dec.2011 PMLN held women convention in 1000 seated Al-Hamra Hall in which Maryam Nawaz debuted in the politics. According to media she mentioned that “it took her three years to convince her father (Nawaz Sharif) to allow her to enter in the politics”. Her statement is the question mark on the Mr. Sharif’s philosophy for women political activist in Pakistan. Jamat-e-Islami has organised women rallies often on issues Kerry/Lugar Bill or NATO supply through Pakistan but never organised against the issues women facing in Pakistan.

Internationally there have been many women gatherings like one of the prominent women gathering in the world was held in 2009 in India which was organised by “ATTUKAL BHAGAVATHY TEMPLE TRUST”; a religious organisation; attended by 2.5 million women. Another women gathering which made a world record in May 2007 was in South Africa in which 1000 women were gathered and the uniqueness of the gathering was that all attendees were expected mothers. In October 1999, 1200 HIV+ women were gathered with the goal of setting a national policy for women with HIV/AIDS and enable women to network and obtain support for education and research. To show the solidarity with the Aboriginal people in July 2011, in Canada “City for All Women Initiative (CAWI)” arranged a gathering of 1800 women. “Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing” held a career fair in USA which was attended by 2600 women and considered as the largest gathering of women of technical world. Advocate director of “Women Information network”, Dr. Paula Fellingham arranged a global gathering of 152 countries and gathered 5000 women across the globe. Dr. Fellingham said that “Empowered women can improve their economic status and move out of survival mode, move into self-mastery, and move up to selfless service, which will always lift the level of love and peace on earth.”

The gathering arranged by MQM turned out to be the largest women gathering arranged by any political party around the world. BBC endorsed party’s claim by breaking news that the rally to be the largest congregation of women ever organised in the world of politics. The uniqueness of the rally was that the attendees were the women with children and security was also controlled by the women workers of the party. Former Deputy Mayor Nasreen Jalil was spotted by the media many times in the ground with other party female officials to make the arrangement week before gathering and was seen till the last day of the arrangement. Chief of the party addressed the issues of women facing in rural and tribal areas, talked about their empowerment and education and condemned the cruel customs like honour killing and Vani marriages and demanded for the changed and secure system for women. The interesting fact is; that all these customs are against the Islamic teachings but not a single religious party has ever raised these issues in their conventions.

Dr. Zeba Ansari, Pakistani women’s Rights Activist and SUN Charity official from NY said “Anybody who has any issues with the suppression of women’s rights in Pakistan would have been delighted at the positive steps taken by one of its major political parties, MQM. It called upon the women and children to attend the rally aptly named “Empowered women, Stronger Pakistan”. The response was overwhelming. Women and children flocked to the venue and demonstrated hope and unity. They also proved that if called upon and properly utilised, the women of Pakistan can be a force to reckon with. All they need is for someone to give them a chance. Well done MQM for thinking outside the box and showing the world what Pakistan and Pakistanis can do.”

In the end it has proven the main fact that many political parties in Pakistan have arranged rallies but not at this level and never raised voice for women rights in those rallies rather promoting their agendas like I mentioned above for Jamat-e-Islami and PPP.

The above article was published in Pakistan State Times

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