Taking a look back at the events that took place in the month of March, one appreciates that hope can blossom even in depths of despair and strength can grow out of adversity. What is even more remarkably evident is that women have a profound impact not only in national life but also on issues that transcend national boundaries into the global realm.
On March 15, 2019, the world witnessed in Christchurch, New Zealand, the horrendous act of terrorism that was a result of the extremist ideology of hate and racist tendencies. In what was “one of the darkest days” for New Zealand, fifty Muslim worshippers lost their lives and as many others were injured. However, what strikes most is not the horrific and traumatic nature of the incident but the empathy and compassion shown by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand. While there are leaders around the world who harp the rhetoric of circumscribed nationalism and emphasize divisions, Jacinda Ardern demonstrated to the world that the only way out of the quagmire of terrorism is a community that draws its strength from inclusiveness and connections based on commonalities. This incident was not the first of its kind and will certainly not be the last but the response was no doubt one that had not been seen before. The human touch was brought to the cold and dispassionate world of politics; tragedy has been turned into opportunity to bring people together.
The political maturity seen in Prime Minister Ardern is not a new phenomenon. Since its inception, Pakistani women have made use of their political acumen in trying to help create and build a cohesive, progressive and tolerant Pakistan that is not only a secure place for its citizens but contributes to fighting the forces of tyranny and terror around the world. Women like Miss Fatima Jinnah, Begum Ra’ana Liaqat Ali Khan, Begum Salma Tassaduq Hussain, Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz, Lady Abdullah Haroon and Shaista Ikramullah are just a few names in this context; there are countless others whose names might not be familiar but who have done their part in various capacities and roles in the struggle for Pakistan and in nation building after its creation. As politically conscious as the women of Pakistan are, they have and they continue to play a very positive role in politics as well as other fields of national life.
The road does not end here. Apart from being politically proactive, Pakistani women are also serving as defenders of the motherland. On March 23, 2019, the Joint Services Pakistan Day Parade showed the world that Pakistan is militarily robust and its men and women, from all parts of the country, in all their diversity, are united to defend their motherland whenever needed. The sight of the marching columns of the lady officers of Tri-services, Armed Forces Nursing Services (AFNS) and the Girls Guides, was not just reassuring for the nation but was also a message to anyone harboring ill will for Pakistan.
The events that took place in the month which began with celebrating women has strengthened the belief that women are well-equipped and gradually stepping up to the plate, taking on any and all challenges. The need is for the world in general and women in particular to take stock of their strength to help shape a safer, more peaceful world.HH
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