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The Dawn

Published Date: May 15, 2014

‘Everyone must fight for women’s rights’

Most women in the country, especially in the rural areas, do not
enjoy even basic human rights. It is not only the duty of the government
or NGOs to safeguard women’s rights, but the duty of every citizen of
Pakistan.

These views were voiced by Khawar Mumtaz, who is the
chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), at
a public discussion organised by the Sustainable Development Policy
Institute (SDPI) on Wednesday.

Ms Mumtaz has been working on
issues of the environment, gender and human rights for over 30 years now
and was awarded a Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1989 and the Prime Minister’s
Award in 2006 for her invaluable services.

Responding to questions
from the audience, Ms Mumtaz said Pakistan could not progress
economically unless women were involved in the economic activities.

"Unfortunately,
in our society, women have to face religious discrimination, the threat
of violence and they are usually deprived of their rights. I have been
struggling for years to secure rights for women and a sense of
protection," she said

"Non government organizations have been
doing a good job to increase awareness among women, to ensure that they
have access to laws and justice," she added.

Talking about her
childhood, Ms Mumtaz said that she grew up in an atmosphere where she
was taught to respect others," she said. She said that as a child, it
was great to not be conscious of differences in class and status and
that being a child, it was easy to do everything, unlike today.

Literary
figure Kishwar Naheed, while speaking to participants, said that human
rights are being violated all over the world. Pointing at the kidnapping
of 200 female students in Nigeria, she said that it was the most
heinous crime and international community should play its role for the
recovery of students.

On suggestion of Kishwar Naheed,
participants of the event passed a resolution for the recovery of
students. They also said that extremist should not use women and
children for the rivalry with the states.

Former Pakistani
ambassador in India, Shafqat Kakakhel said that he has been observing Ms
Mumtaz for decades and she has never stopped working for the rights of
the people.

"In fact it is matter of honour that Pakistan has
people like Ms Mumtaz who have been playing their role and using their
influence to make policies in favour of the people of Pakistan," he
said.

Kakakhel also presented the Woman of Substance Shield to the Chairperson NCSW.

Literary
personalities Nasreen Azhar, Rukhsana Rashid, Prof. Iftikhar-un Nisa
and Professor Najma Najam were also present at the occasion.

Head of Gender and Human Security Unit at SDPI Dr Maleeha Aslam conducted the conversation with Ms Mumtaz.

Source: http://www.dawn.com/news/1106363/everyone-must-fight-for-womens-rights