ISLAMABAD - President Dr. Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan have reaffirmed their commitment to ensure equal rights and opportunities to women in order to enable them to utilize their full potential for sustainable socio-economic development of the country.

Addressing a ceremony in connection with the International Women’s Day here on Sunday, the President said that lap of mother is the first learning institution for a child in the family and role of women for the next generation is undisputable. The President said that women are playing a key role in all walks of life while the number of female graduates and position holders in many academic disciplines in Pakistan are higher as compared to males.

The president underlined the need for making collective efforts to ensure women’s inheritance rights, health, education, violence-free environment and equal opportunities in all strata of society. He further linked the creation of awareness in the society about the importance of economic inclusion of women along with their inheritance rights which were flagrantly denied in the society due to the prevalence of certain outdated cultural customs in different areas of the country.

He said, “For the first time in the world’s history, the religion of Islam in very clear terms has ensured women’s rights to inheritance which even did not find place in the Western countries for long.”

Such irrelevant barriers in the shape of cultural customs should be discarded with forceful adherence to the Islamic teachings and the contemporary laws. The Ulema’s role in this regard was critical for creation of mass awareness, he observed.

The president also referred to the government’s flagship of social security and welfare ‘Ehsas’ programme and said the government was committed to ensure social and economic betterment of womenfolk.

Quoting a saying of founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah about the significance of women’s role in society, he said that womenfolk should be provided with violence and harassment free environment.

The president noted that the government could not alone work over these issues, it could enact laws, but it was the collective cause and responsibility of all stakeholders to play their role.

He also opined that dropout rate of female students from schools was linked to certain social and economic conditions.

Whereas in the secondary and intermediate levels, girl students were outshining the male students, but at the higher education level, their participation gradually diminished which indicated certain issues which should be addressed promptly, he added.

The president also stressed for creation of spaces for mothers at their workplaces to properly look after their nascent babies.

The womenfolk in the country were confronted with serious health issues of malnutrition and stress, leading to child stunting and thus impacting the overall health of a family and ultimately society.

The developed countries always carved ways to overcome their conflicts and controversies in their societies, he said noting that in the national building, it was necessary to resolve all the issues peacefully.

He also lauded working of the FOSPAH which was established some ten years back, observing that 12 per cent increase was witnessed in filing of complaints, still there was a need to encourage the victim women to register their grievances.

The president informed that he had directed the Ombudsman office to entertain complaints over women’s inheritance rights.

During the ceremony, documentaries showing contributions of notable women personalities in different fields and the performance of the FOSPAH were also screened.

The ceremony was attended by PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, PM’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr. Sania Nishtar, Federal Ombudsman Kashmala Tariq, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqi, prominent women personalities and representatives of different organizations.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a message in connection with the International Women’s Day reiterated to undertake every possible effort to ensure equal rights and opportunities to the women.

Imran Khan said it is indeed encouraging to see that the Pakistani women are proving their mettle in every walk of life and achieving excellence in their respective fields at the national and international level.

The prime minister said that he firmly believes that inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development can only be ensured by providing equal opportunities and a conducive environment to our women.

He reaffirmed the pledge to take all measures that would help our women to lead a safe, secure and prosperous life.