“Democracies are always instrumental in advancing the cause of women empowerment, while dictatorships muzzle their voices,” Gilani said in his message on National Women Day being commemorated across Pakistan on February 12 to pay homage to women of Pakistan for their heroic struggle for attainment of their rights.
The Prime Minister said, “the day reminds us of the women’s relentless fight against dictatorship and oppression, which began in 1983 and has now evolved into a full-fledged movement for women empowerment and gender equality.”
Gilani said Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was a powerful voice for women rights and emancipation, adding, she waged an arduous struggle for the empowerment of women throughout her eventful life.
“History will remember her as a great advocate of women rights”, the Prime Minister said and recalled that she once said.
“The women who cannot plan her life, plan her family, plan a career, fundamentally not free. I am determined to change the plight of women in my country. I am determined to harness their potential to the gigantic task of nation building.”
Gilani said the present Parliament has a number of pro-women enactments to its credit such as “Women Protection from Harassment at Workplace Act 2010, Amendment in PPC 509, Acid Crime Prevention Act 2011, the Prevention of anti-Women Practices Act 2011 and Fund for Women in Distress and Detention Act 2011.”
Recently, the National Commission on Status of Women has been enacted into an empowered, independent and autonomous body, he said and added these legislative measures constitute a milestone in the women’s journey of empowerment and emancipation.
The Prime Minister said women’s political empowerment cannot be de-linked from the process of economic empowerment, adding, key interventions introduced by the present government include Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) as a flagship program meant to empower women on sustainable basis.
BISP, a women-oriented programme, provides skill development and technical training, health insurance and loans without markup up to Rs 300,000, he said and mentioned it has also provided Rs 25,000 to the female flood affectees.
The Prime Minister said the direct cash transfer facility under BISP is benefiting five million households across the country. ‘Waseel-a-Taleem’ programme of BISP would target millions of girls to enhance female literacy rate in the country, he added.
He said the present government has encouraged participation of women in the national life, adding, women are serving at key positions in the present government as well as in the universities.
The Prime Minister in this respect mentioned that the Speaker of National Assembly, Foreign and Information Ministers are women, adding, it was during the stint of this government that women officers were inducted in Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy.
He said Pakistani women are the most resilient among the womenfolk in the world as they have braved the rigours of wars, unprecedented floods and other natural calamities.
“Our rural women are a major contributor to the national economy and playing their appreciable role in elevating the status of their households through hard work. They continue to be powerful metaphor of courage and hope in the face of heavy odds and challenges,” he added.
“On this day, let us pledge to keep working for empowerment of women because the dream of nation building is impossible to realize without their effective participation in the process,” the Prime Minister added.