| GEO Pakistan|
| Women Day being observed across globe today|
| Updated at: 1104 PST, Monday, March 08, 2010|
KARACHI: The International Women’s Day on Monday (today) marks another year of changing social trends and inclusion of more and more women in various fields in the country.
Women rights have been the buzzing tune in the country for a while now and the general psychology of society as a whole has transformed from a conservative approach to a more moderate concept where women are not seen as just a household commodity.
The government departments working for protection of women rights, legislation to provide women with a more secure working environment and some 101 NGOs working in the country to voice women issues have contributed towards creating opportunities for women to contribute towards the national objectives.
The NGO’s working for women rights protection can be divided into three categories, namely big, medium and small organizations. There are about 22 big NGOs which have a nationwide infrastructure and run their operations through well-orchestrated departments. There are 17 medium-sized organisations who have local or provincial infrastructure and persuade the issues of the women till the local government. Around 62 of small NGOs are working at either union council or town level.
The first International Women’s Day was observed on February 28, 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. Among other relevant historic events, it came to commemorate the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The idea of having an international women’s day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions. The day is also commemorated at the United Nations level and is designated in many countries as a national holiday. When women from all the continents, with ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.
The International Women’s Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men. In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war; during the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for liberty, equality, fraternity marched on Versailles to demand women’s suffrage.
The idea of an International Women’s Day first arose at the turn of the century, which in the industrialized world was a period of expansion and turbulence, booming population growth and radical ideologies. Following is a brief chronology of the most important events:
Over the years, United Nations action for the advancement of women has taken four clear directions: promotion of legal measures; mobilisation of public opinion and international action; training and research, including the compilation of gender desegregated statistics; and direct assistance to disadvantaged groups. Today, a central organizing principle of work of the UN is that no enduring solution to society’s most threatening social, economic and political problems can be found without the participation and empowerment of women.
International Women’s Day Celebrations in Pakistan, too, have been gaining momentum for the past decade or so and we see a network of female activists and NGO’s holding rallies, marches, seminars and other such activities on the day. The government too has been taking keen interest in the celebrations of the day and conducts ceremonies inviting the leading female professionals and experts to create awareness regarding the women issues.
Meanwhile, the World Women’s Day was observed on Sunday under the aegis of the Kashf Foundation, highlighting women’s right to access financial services.
In this connection, a function was held in front of the Lahore Press Club which was participated by the Kashf Foundation clients and staff. The participants including clients from low-income communities held a candlelit vigil to show solidarity with women.
People, holding placards and banners, chanted slogans in support of women’s access to financial services. Hafsa Sajjad, Shahla Sattar and Zainab Saeed of the foundation said government and civil society should invest more in women to reduce poverty and gender inequality.
Speaking on the occasion, Kashf Foundation Head of Operations Kamran Azim said gender inequality and poverty were core reasons of the economic crisis. The problems could be eradicated by providing financial services to low-income women, he maintained, adding that women were the most affected by the recession.