Message of President Asif Ali Zardari
International Women's Day
March 08, 2012
I wish to compliment Ambassador Sherry Rehman and Pakistan Embassy in Washington for organizing this event today on the International Day for Women.
On this occasion, I wish to compliment the women for their struggle for their rights on the one hand and reiterate the commitment of the Government of Pakistan to emancipate and empower women of the country.
The promotion of women’s rights is part of the history of struggle of the Pakistan Peoples Party. As the first woman ever elected to head an Islamic nation, our leader Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto felt a special responsibility to address issues relating to women.
In the West, the women's liberation movement began in the 20th century. In the Islamic world, the women's rights movement is as old as Islam itself although, unfortunately, one would not know this when looking at our society. The task before us all, especially the PPP, is to restore them in our society and end discrimination and violence against women once and for all.
It was this vision of the PPP leaders that the government of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto appointed women for the first time in the subordinate judiciary and the police force. The subsequent PPP governments appointed women to the High Courts and created special family courts headed by women judges and special women’s police force to investigate crimes against women. We did not want women facing shame in having to relate to men the violence they may have been subjected to.
For the first time in our history we have, under the present government, a woman Speaker, a woman as Foreign Minister and a woman as our Ambassador to the United States. We have a separate Ombudsperson for Women.
A number of far reaching legislative measures have been adopted during the last four years to address issues relating to women and to empower them. The measures include protecting women from harassment at workplace, preventing acid attacks, discouraging anti women practices, creation of a Fund for women in distress and detention and legislation to punish several offences against women including depriving them from inheritance and forced marriage.
Most recently the National Commission on Status of Women was enacted into an empowered, independent and autonomous body to protect the social, economic, political and legal rights of women. The job quota for women in government services has been increased to ten percent.
We live in an age of terrorism where human life seems to have lost value. But we do not accept such a world where humans are disposable statistics. For us each human life is precious. The PPP believes that one of the best methods to confront terrorism is to raise the status of women. When opportunities for women flourish, extremism withers.
On the eve of the International Women Day therefore I once again compliment the women and assure them of the fullest support in their just struggle for rights. I am hopeful that holding of such events will help to project soft image of the country and the efforts being undertaken for the empowerment of the women in Pakistan.
Washington D.C - March 8, 2012