Harassment-free workspace vital for women’s financial empowerment: President

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President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday terming financially-empowered women an important contributor to socio-economic development said their emancipation necessitated a harassment-free environment at workplaces. “The State and the society need to provide every woman a safe and secure space in public and domestic domains where they could thrive amid equal opportunities,” he said in his address here at an event organized by the Federal Ombudsman Secretariat for Protection Against Harassment (FOSPAH).

President Alvi said it was the responsibility of both the State and society to bring a change in attitudes that promoted gender-based harassment. He said the empowerment of women had several facets including the right to ample representation in financial, political, and leadership spheres. The president said denial of property and inheritance rights to women was against the injunctions of Islam and the country’s law and needed to be reported at legal forums such as FOSPAH. He said Islam enunciated equal rights to women some 1,400 years ago and supported their participation in all fields of life. The president quoted the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah as saying “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you.” He termed ‘honour killings’ of women a criminal act that required a change of behaviours against several social taboos. Dr Alvi emphasized the role of media in promoting awareness about gender harassment through talk shows, television dramas and cultural programmes. He proposed that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority could be taken on board for relaying short messaging services to cellular phone consumers on awareness about gender harassment. State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) Deputy Governor Saleem Ullah said women could prove themselves as a productive workforce in achieving the goals of a stable economy. He mentioned that SBP in three years provided training to women on digital finance at their doorsteps and was endeavouring to open accounts for 9.3 million women in collaboration with Benazir Income Support Programme. Chairperson FOSPAH said the organization was redressing the grievances about harassment at workplace and the women’s property rights within 90 days and without any fee. She said since its establishment, FOSPAH dealt with 8,000 cases of women’s harassment and property matters and provided speedy justice to aggrieved persons. A documentary was screened on the occasion depicting the problems faced by women at workplaces and the FOSPAH’s activities as a platform for their redressal.