The revival of thematic theatre would help raise mass awareness on the social issues of our society including women rights and the importance of their professional work. The joint efforts of the arts councils and the development experts could initiate a lead to a broader change in revamping the content and production standards of the stage plays.

Munir Ahmed, Executive Director Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) and founder of the National Women at Work Festival expressed these views while chairing a seminar on 'engaging theatre to mainstreaming the women's rights and work' at the Rawalpindi Arts Council. The seminar was organized by the Devcom-Pakistan in collaboration with the Rawalpindi Arts Council in connection with the 6th National Women at Work Festival to mark the International Women's Day.

The speakers included Nasim Ahmed Usmani, Sarwat Kazmi, Laiba Ali, William Pervez, Imran Rushdi, Amin Shahzada, Sobia Saleem, Ali Farooqi, Adil Khurshid, Zabir Sarhadi, and Waqar Ahmed, Resident Director RAC. Munir Ahmed urged the arts councils and development experts to jointly develop a framework under the supervision of the district management for revamping theatre to mainstream the women's rights and work. The thematic and serious theatre would open new doors for some dignified work for women artistes in theatre who have talent but shy away due to lack of trustworthy professional environment.

Munir Ahmed said the inception of National Women at Work Festival was the manifestation derived out of the situation adversely affecting the women's economic empowerment. The launch of this annual public advocacy event was aimed at recognizing, appreciating, celebrating and mainstreaming the women's work and their right to work. We, at Devcom-Pakistan, believe that recognizing women's work begins ensuring their empowerment and human rights. Therefore, we need to integrate the promotion of Decent Work for women, courteous and dignified workplace, and equal rights in the society.

Talking about the objectives of the Festival, he said the key purpose is to recognize, appreciate, celebrate and mainstream the women's work and their achievements to inspire the generation next. The other objectives are to promote and mainstream the work of the development partners on the women rights, empowerment, decent work, violence against women, gender policy advocacy and governance; and to raise public awareness on the gender issues for better work environment and a more socially equitable status for women.

Naseem Ahmed Usmani said Karachi Arts has developed a citizens and professionals engagement model that may be replicated in Rawalpindi Arts Council with the patronage of the Commissioner Rawalpindi. The new arrangement would help strengthen the art and culture besides generating generous livelihood for the local artistes. Only serious theatre and other art and cultural activities would attract sponsorship and possible marketing.

Laiba Ali said many stigmas are attached to the theatre that is why only few women dare to work on the stage. We need to improve work conditions and environment to engage more women in theatre, then, their presence would pave a path for more and better sensitization of general public on the women's rights and work.

William Pervez of Pattan Lok Natak said we hardly see any encouraging steps from the federal and provincial governments to promote and recognize theatre as a professional media. Artistes hardly survive on the meager earnings and have to do other jobs to earn their livelihoods. On the other hand, they spend millions on advertising their political scoring and on the promotion of their development work. Theatre despite of being an efficient media could not get their eye. The governments should spend sufficient funds on theatre development that is a general public media for social awareness, education and development.

Ali Farooqi, president NUML dramatic club, said the government should provide sufficient funds to the arts councils to properly maintain the theatre halls and manage related logistics. The arts councils shall not charge fees to the university dramatic clubs and other youth groups if really interested to promote serious and thematic theatre. Adil Khurshid proposed thematic drama festivals for university students. He said the social media could serve as a key tool in the promotion and marketing of the theatre plays. The commercial artistes shall be engaged in brainstorming sessions on the social issues.