ISLAMABAD  – Chairperson National Commission on Status of Women (NCSW), Anis Haroon on Saturday said Pakistani women have resilience to face any kind of circumstances and are brave enough to prove their abilities despite countless hindrances.

Talking to the agency, she said Shad Begum is an honour for Pakistan who not only worked for the rights of women in a deprived society where women are not allowed to cast votes with their own will but also set an example by winning seat of district council in 2001 and 2005 in a patriarchal society.

Shad, one of the recipients among 10 winners of International Women of Courage Award 2012 around the globe, was founder of Association for Behaviour and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT). She provides political training, micro-credit, primary education and health services to women in the most conservative areas of Pakistan. Anis said Shad Begum has paved the way for a new political era in the country, adding women rights movement started in the country gradually showing their influence through bringing a positive change in the lives of women.

However, she pointed out that still there are many areas in the country where women are deprived from their right of casting votes including Mardan, Shangla and other area and Election Commission of Pakistan should take strict notice of these violation and annul results of such polling stations where no women vote was cast.

Chairperson NCSW also cited the example of Marium Bibi from KPK who runs an organisation ‘Khand Kor’ and doing remarkable work on women rights, health issue, education and child rights, including Sharmeen Chinoy and number of other ladies who showed unmatched performance not only nationally but also internationally. She said, “It is a clear sign that Pakistani women can compete in any field and get the winning slot”.

MNA Dr Attiya Anayat Ullah, sharing her views, said the courage award is a milestone in the political progress of women as currently they are endeavouring to establish their political status in the country.

She said during the last eight to nine years all the discriminatory laws against women were abolished and now fifty percent population has the protection to enjoy their rights under law, adding it is time to create awareness among them. She hailed the achievement of Shad Begum and pointed out that such recognitions at international level would give boost to the struggle of women rights.

However, there is a need to ensure their due respect and status in local society, especially in a male-dominated culture.

“There is a dire need to bring about change in the mindset of male society for ensuring rights of women at grassroots level”, Dr Attiya said. First lady United States of America, Michelle Obama paying tribute to Shad Begum at the award ceremony remarked, “ Shad Begum is a courageous human rights activist and leader who has changed the political context for women in the extremely conservative district of Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa”. She said, “Shad, Executive Director, Anjuman Behbood-e-Khawateen Talash, thank you for fearlessly championing Pakistani women’s political and economic rights, and working to empower the disadvantaged and oppressed. You are making a difference and setting an example for women and men in your country”. Shad who hails from district Dir, Khayber Pakhtunkhwa, sharing her views on the award said, she dedicates her award to the women of South Asia.

Shad viewed that even Pakistan had a women Prime Minister, but this does not mean that they have all the basic rights including the right to say, right to choose and right to associate. Shad Begum was born in Ziarat Talash village near Chakdara in district Dir in 1974. She studied in the Government High School in her village and did matric as a regular candidate and completed rest of her education as a private candidate to earn her BA degree. Shad’s role in the Tehsil Assembly did ignite debate on women issues in Dir. She continued to highlight these issues in the national press and in seminars and workshops in Islamabad so that pressure would be brought on the local politicians to change. Her actions kept the issue of women’s rights alive as a key issue in the local politics of Dir.