“No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you; we are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live.” – Muhammad Ali Jinnah, 1944

In the age of ignorance, the Arab’s of pre-Islam had treated their women worse than animals. Women were terribly suffered as they had no rights, social status, or respect in society. Islam brought about enormous amelioration in the status of women.

In order to give rise to Women Empowerment, the first international women’s rights organization the International Council of Women (ICW) was formed in 1888. In 1904, the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) was established by American activist Carrie Chapman Catt and other activists because the ICW was disinclined to focus on suffrage.

In the past decade, it has been experienced that earning opportunities are infrequent in rural and urban areas. Women have limited or nearly no access to intrinsic social services. Unless these women are not emancipated, the society won’t be able to remove gender discrimination. An obstacle in the way of implementation of the policies to direct discrimination and violence against women is the patriarchal concept that governs the society and much of the households in Pakistan. Gender equality and women empowerment are essential tools to achieve development in this globalizing world. Despite all the measures that have been taken for their rights, women are still illiterate and are not allowed to make decisions. They are confined in the fences of their houses.

The past few years had witnessed the awareness of empowerment of women through economic, social and political impartiality and access to basic human rights. More like giving a voice to marginalized people. Women have been defying gender inequalities since the beginning of time. Even our religion emphasizes on the rights of women, including freedom of choice, rights of getting education, choice of spouse etc.

UNDP Associate Administrator Rebecca Grynspan said, “Women empowerment is catalytic and central to achieve sustainable development.”

Few of the women are helping in bringing revolutionary changes to the country and are taking part to promote feminism. Like Laraib Atta, the daughter of renowned folk singer Attaullah Khan Esakhailvi is making her way in Hollywood as a visual effects artist. Sweeney Todd, Godzilla, and Gravity are just some of the famous titles she has worked for. The VFX artist, Laraib has worked on blockbuster Hollywood movies, including the new Mission: Impossible – Fallout.  

Likewise, PLM-N’s Maryam Nawaz has also worked for establishment of the women. She is the left hand of her father, the former PM Nawaz Sharif. She was mentioned in the list of top 11 powerful women around the world generated by a foreign magazine ‘New York Times’ in 2017.

On the other hand, Reham Khan, at the Ninth International Conference on Women Leadership stressed that women should portray themselves as brave and courageous in society. She said that “If you think of yourself as weak, you shouldn’t expect anyone else to respect you and empower you”. It should be the aim of women to change societal perceptions. She concluded, “We need to educate our men to make them realize the importance of female education and women empowerment.”

MCCI’s Women Entrepreneurs Committee chairperson Begum Sarwat Zahra stated “Women are mainstreamed in all economic sectors and have become a visible and productive part of the economy. Today in this competitive world, women entrepreneurship and women empowerment plays a significant role in the socio-economic development of all underdeveloped countries like Pakistan.”

To ensure women empowerment and for sustainable development in Pakistan, high literacy rate, social and political support, the betterment of infrastructure, exposure to opportunities and support of government is requisite. Therefore, it is important to bring women into the mainstream so that they can play their significant role in the development of the country. To annihilate the ignorance of confining women, we should be united. It is the obligation of the government to provide women with platforms through which they can brush up their talents and utilize them in a positive manner.