As Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States and as a Pakistani woman, I have the pleasure to say that the women of Pakistan join the international community in observing the International Women’s Day. This year the International Women’s Day is even more important for Pakistan. In ten day’s time, Pakistan’s democratically elected government completes its tenure, paving the way for the first constitutional transfer of power in Pakistan’s history. This is a tremendous achievement and Pakistani women are equal partners in making that happen. Women made up nearly a fifth of the outgoing Parliament, a higher comparable to the US Congress. It was the most pro-women Pakistani Parliament since independence, adopting landmark legislation on women’s rights, including on harassment at work, domestic violence, combating acid attacks and conferring autonomy on the National Commission on the Status of women.
In 2007 we lost Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s twice elected Prime Minister, to a terrorist’s bullets. In the past year a Pakistani girl, Malala Yusufzai, captured the hearts and imaginations of the entire world through her struggle against extremism and for her advocacy of girls’ right to education. She inspired all those struggling for their rights as she valiantly fought off the effects of an assassin’s bullet aimed at her head and refused to allow brutal violence to break her spirit or abandon her struggle.
Pakistani women have gained much in the last five years. However, they still have a long road to travel. They remain in the cross hairs of the terrorists and extremists. Their schools are regularly attacked. Their contribution to the society and economy is not properly understood or appreciated. However, with each passing day they are moving ahead and helping create the kind of Pakistan our founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah envisioned.
March 08, 2013