March 8th is celebrated every year as International Women’s Day (IWD), also known as the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. This day is homage to all women around the world who are playing a pivotal and extraordinary part in shaping and improving the world in their various roles – be it mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, professionals or movers and shakers. The celebration of this day is aimed at recognizing the power that is endowed to women by the Almighty, and to ensure that women are given their inalienable right to exercise this power. It is also a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate achievements, acts of courage and determination by ordinary women along with the appreciation of the importance of women in society, their influence and their issues and concerns.
In Pakistan as well, IWD is a celebration of the Pakistani woman who plays not only an essential role in family building but also contributes to every sphere of national life – as teacher, doctor, entrepreneur, labourer, etc. They also make a most substantial contribution to the peace and security of our country, not only by serving in all three armed forces but also as the women behind men who have dedicated their lives to protect this great nation of ours.
Pakistan is at crossroads today, where every last citizen – man and woman – needs to pledge to do whatever they can for the peace and development of the country and to help it enter into the future as a proud nation. At the moment Pakistan finds itself facing many challenges, both internal and external. And while we have successfully tackled and overcome terrorism, other challenges that confront us from internal and external enemies need Pakistani women to respond as they had before. They have to be steadfast in carrying out their responsibilities and work shoulder to shoulder with men, to ensure peace, security, stability and prosperity for Pakistan.
The need of the hour is for women to take on a lead role, at individual and collective level. To ensure that this can be made possible, women should feel empowered, so that they can rise to the challenges that confront us today and consolidate the gains made for a bright future for this generation as well as coming generations.
This IWD, more than ever before, should not just be a commemoration of the courageous and resilient women of Pakistan, but also a commitment by the men and women of this nation that women will be provided with and ensured access to equal opportunities, so that they can continue to play their roles more effectively and successfully. We live in a global world now and in this global culture of ‘women empowerment,’ the Pakistani woman has to play a lead role because she is a role model, carrying great values, a religion and culture that emphasize education, care, tolerance, equality and non-discrimination.HH
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