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Women must pursue their dreams: KP woman political leader

Peshawar (PR) – Women in Pakistan face enormous social barriers when they step outside their homes and seek careers, but the key to success for women is persevering and not giving up in the face challenges. These views were expressed by woman lawmaker of KP Assembly, Ms. Shagufta Malik, during a national workshop on ‘youth for interfaith harmony’ on January 20th in Peshawar. Ms. Malik, who comes from a culturally conservative background, advised young women to pursue their dreams despite that the fact that our society often frowns upon women’s role in public life. She shared her own life’s experiences, explaining how she faced many obstacles while joining politics. There was a strong perception that politics was a male business, where women had little role to play, she said. However, she added that the society’s criticism gradually transformed into acknowledgement of her abilities once she proved her mettle in public life. The ANP lawmaker said rape and harassment incidents against women are underreported in Pakistan, especially in the rural areas where women often suffer in silence. But, she expressed optimism that many conservative rural cultures were undergoing positive social changes, and people were increasingly becoming more open to women education and emancipation.
Likewise, another successful woman entrepreneur, Anmol Shiraz, told the workshop participants that she faced several challenges from her familial circles when she chose to pursue journalism as a career. She said that ‘at one point, a woman has to take a stand for herself’ and say no to those who attempt to impose their views and plans on women. A woman is as equal a citizen of the state as a man, and as such she has the right to seek opportunities for career and growth, she said. Ms. Shiraz also believed that the society was having a positive change with regard to women’s role in society. Many things which used to be a social taboo regarding to women are being discussed opening. Ms. Shiraz said she has been through ups and downs in her career, but her Christian faith has never been an issue for her in Pakistan.
During the workshop, investigative journalist, Azaz Syed, also interacted with the participants. According to him, the youth should learn to develop positive thinking habits and learn to question things. He also informed the university students about the uses of the ‘Right to know’ law which allow citizens to access state records. The participants were encouraged to exercise their legal right to access government information in order to hold public officeholders accountable. Lastly, senior journalist, Sabookh Syed, showed the workshop participants a documentary video on the recent destruction of a Hindu Samadhi in Karak, KP. He shared his eye-witness accounts of the incident with the participants. The workshop was part of the nationwide drive for ‘youth for interfaith harmony’ organized by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) – an Islamabad-based research and advocacy think tank.

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Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS)
Sabookh Syed
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