Women’s participation in society is a mark of development and social enlightenment, US Consul General in Karachi William Martin said on Wednesday. “When women are afforded their rights and given the chance to pursue education, employment and political participation, they drive social and economic progress,” he added. He was speaking at a conference held to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The participants of the conference included people belonging to the civil society and media. There were two panel discussions – “Women’s Rights Legislation in Pakistan: Its Challenges and Promises” and “Gender-Based Violence in Pakistan: The role of Civil Society”.
They were hosted by the US Consulate Karachi to highlight the role of the government and the civil society in combating gender-based violence. The speakers included former Sindh High Court chief justice Nasir Aslam Zahid, human rights activist and lawyer Iqbal Haider, former Sindh High Court judge Majida Rizvi, women rights activist Mahnaz Rehman and female lawmakers Humera Alwani and Heer Sohu. The US consul general said that women must be able to make decisions about their own lives and the future of their families.
“I am sure all of us have benefitted from the wise and compassionate decisions of the most important woman in our lives, our mothers. Think of the impact of millions of mothers on a society, on our world, when their talents, when their caring, is unleashed. Who would want to stand in the way of this power, this love,” he added.
“But we must work at making change possible. Prevention, protection and prosecution are essential to combating this violence. We all have an obligation to stand up and speak out against brutality to women. We cannot, we will not, tolerate their exclusion.”
He said that empowering women and girls is already a priority of the US and all developed countries. “But we need more countries to step up and take on this challenge. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is an opportunity to renew our commitment to free women and girls from the nightmare of violence. We do this because the future security, richness and diversity of our world depend on it.”