Speakers urge for resisting cultural pressures preventing female education.
Women’s role in economy and society needs to expand. This was the result of a two-day conference that concluded here on Wednesday.
The conference “Empowerment through girls’ education in contemporary Muslim societies” was organised by Oxfam GB and Pakistan Coalition for Education.
National and international experts on education, politicians and civil society representatives attended the conference. The conclusions drawn at the end were compiled in a document titled “Islamabad Resolution”, which called for improved female education in Muslim countries. The resolution also calls for equal access to educational opportunities for minorities in Muslim societies.
The participants expressed their support for the legal changes making education a fundamental right for all. They also called for further efforts to be made to translate the new law into action through effective policy making.
The co-chair of Pakistan’s Education Task Force, Shahnaz Wazir Ali, said that although the government faces tough challenges in the form of a conservative political opposition, it was committed to enacting its policies.
“We know what the ramifications of doing nothing are for the future of our country,” she said.
An educationalist and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi Executive Director Beala Raza Jamil said that it was vital to raise the quantity of the money being spent on education.
Nafisa Shah from the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, who is also secretary of the ethics committee, was of the opinion that local cultural practices as a hindrance to female education was no justification for failing to promote schooling for girls.
She said it is the state’s responsibility to try and change the mindset where cultural restrictions prevent women from realising their true potential.
She added that democratisation and collective action by a multitude of groups throughout society should hold the state accountable, “We have to enable and pressurize the state to do the right things,” she said. Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar from Pakistan Muslim League (Q), who is also a member of the senate standing committee on education, said education undoubtedly improves women’s lifestyle.
The Express Tribune