‘Women for workplace equality’

Khadijah Shah

LAHORE, PAKISTAN, Oct 11: The advent of electronic media has boosted the visibility of women journalists as never before, though women still face an uphill struggle in their battle to achieve workplace equality.

These views were expressed by veteran journalist Beena Sarwar speaking at the conclusion of the first National Conference of South Asian Women in the Media (SAWM) here on Saturday.

Sexual harassment and an increasing conservative atmosphere that stipulates an ever-stricter
dress code for female journalists were among the concerns.

On the second day of the conference, Asma Sherazi, Saima Mohsin, Mona Rana, Faakhra Tehreem, Beena Sarwar and Rubina Jamil discussed these challenges in detail, and resolved to make the SAWM’s complaint cell more active as a tool of advocacy for women in the media.

Participants noted that expectations were now greater than ever from the democratic government to safeguard rights of women in the media in the country.

“The women’s movement in Pakistan has always been related to the democratic process,” noted Beena Sarwar.

The conference concluded with an awards session in which women pioneers from various fields such as sports, education, and media were recognized for their achievements at both national and international level.

The awardees included Kanwal Naseer, Sultana Siddiqui, Frieha Altaf, Ameena Saiyid, Nahid Siddiqui, Rehana Hakim, Kiran Khan, Shabana Akhtar, Sajida Mir, Asma Jahangir, Muniza Hashmi, Afzal Tauseef and Dr Arifa Syeda.

Ferhan Mazher
Chairman (Rays of Development Organization, Sargodha, Pakistan)

Roundtable On Honour Killings Today

By Khadijah Shah

ISLAMABAD: To condemn the inhuman prevalant practices of violence against women, with special focus on the recent case of burying alive of five women in Balochistan in the name of honour, a roundtable is being held at the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) today (Saturday).

Organized jointly by the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and the CII, the roundtable meeting will be attended by human rights activists, representatives of civil society and journalists. Minister for Parliamentary Affairs for Balochistan, Robina Irfan will also be in attendance. Other panelists for the roundtable include I.A Rehman, Ansar Abbasi, Naeem Mirza, Tahira Abdullah, Samar Minnallah and Dr Arifa Syeda.

To examine the religious status of such practices, religious scholar Allama Khilji will also speak on the occasion. Chairman CII Dr Khalid Masood is to kick-off the event. Talking to ‘The News’, Gender Expert
at NCSW, Sofia Noreen said that the meeting was aimed at highlighting the typical way of covering up cases of honour killing.

“The meeting will discuss the history and mindset behind such practices and political, social and religious dynamics involved in making such practices acceptable in the tribal system.”

She said that it was important to comprehend the standing of religion on the issues and the mindset that allows such heinous practices in the name of tradition. “Discriminatory customary practices are
protected by a certain mindset and there is a need to point out these elements and raise voice against them,” she said.

Dr Nasir Zaidi of CII said that the idea was to condemn the case like Jafferabad through a joint platform. “Participants of the roundtable would present recommendations on how to put restraint over unjust customary practices and these recommendations would then be presented before the CII central meeting,” he said adding that finally those recommendations would be given to higher authorities. On July 14, five women were brutally tortured and buried alive in Roopashakh, Goth
Qaboola at the border of Naseerabad-Jaffarabad because three of them had the courage to opt for court marriages of their own free will.

Hameeda, Ruqqayya and Raheema are three of the five victims who were killed in the name of honour.

Ferhan Mazher
Rays of Development Organization
Sargodha, Pakistan

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