French embassy celebrates International Women’s Day

ISLAMABAD: The Ambassador of France to Pakistan, Mrs. Martine Dorance, hosted an event in connection with International Women’s Day being celebrated on the 8th of March.

This celebration gathered prominent Pakistani women, including human rights activists, artists, scholars and independent workers, media representative, students from Peshawar and women from Hunza communities. . Dr. Brigitta Blaha, the Ambassador of Austria also participated in the event.

The event focused on women’s empowerment and was held to honour and acknowledge the courage and the continuous efforts of the women and men working in Pakistan to protect women’s rights, to raise awareness and campaign for new laws.

Some of the outstanding Pakistani women, Ms. Kishwar Naheed, Mrs. Tahira Abdullah, shared their testimonies on these issues. A special emphasis was given to education and skill development in Pakistan, by Mrs. Jamil Baela Raza Coordinator of ASER Report on Education and Mrs Farzana Bari, renowned social activist and Director for the Centre of Excellence in Gender Studies.

The event was also the opportunity to raise the specific theme of climate change and its effects on women. Speaking about this, Mrs Aisha Khan, CEO of the Mountain and Glaciers Protection Organization, said that mountain women are managers of resources and yet ignored in decision-making.

Young women who have been trained in a skill development project (carpentry, masonry, electricity) developed in Hunza and Chitral by the Aga Khan Cultural Service (AKCS) with the support of the Embassy of France in Pakistan, also participated in the event.

Ms. Aqeela Bano, Surveyor of the project spoke about the challenges and success of young entrepreneurs from her area and how they changed their role from dependent to bread-earners for their families. She said women can achieve anything they want and requested outstanding Pakistani women to keep helping them by supporting and encouraging them.

Three students from the Peshawar University Shahid Benazir Bhutto, who benefitted from the needs-based scholarship program supported by the Embassy of France in cooperation with HEC, also participated. Among them, Mrs. Uruba Wahid Ali, student of BSCS Computer Science stressed the need to be at the very top of her profession as a woman and thanked the Embassy of France for the support to achieve her goals.

At the end of meeting the renowned poet of Pakistan Kishwar Naheed recited her poems in honour of the women who struggled for their rights.

Speaking at the event, renowned poetess Mrs Kishwaar Naheed appreciated the French Embassy for celebrating International Women’s Day and inviting girls from disadvantaged areas like Hunza and Peshawar in the event. She appreciated the young carpenters from Hunza and said that it is very good that young Pakistani girls are adopting non-professional skills also.

Mrs Tahira Abdullah said “it was commendable that the Embassy of France conceptualized and organized such an informative and educative event to observe International Women’s Day 2015. It was especially wonderful to meet and hear the pioneer women carpenters of Gilgit-Baltistan and the scholarship awardees from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.”

Mrs. Jamil Baela Raza, Coordinator of ASER Report on Education said that “women and young girls are already making headlines with their dedicated work in Pakistan. Government has to ensure the compulsory education for everyone especially girls according to Article 24A of the constitution so that they are not only empowered but child marriages are also countered. People of Pakistan should know their rights in order to get them from their government at Federal, provincial and local level.”

Mrs. Farzana Bari, Director for the Centre of Excellence in Gender Studies of Quaid e Azam University and renowned activist emphasized that “gender equality is a political issue. Gender inequality cannot be removed without removing and changing the unequal socio-cultural economic and political frameworks. Women’s rights movement needs to build alliances with other social movements domestically and globally.”=DNA

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