Well-educated, enlightened women can change society: Musharraf

FILE - In this Monday, April 15, 2013 file photo, Pakistan's former President and military ruler Pervez Musharraf addresses his party supporters at his house in Islamabad, Pakistan. Musharraf spoken out Friday, Dec. 20, for the first time since his house arrest earlier this year, defending his actions while in power and telling a local TV station he did his best for the nation. (B.K. Bangash, File)

ISLAMABAD: All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) Chairman General (r) Pervez Musharraf on Thursday said that there was a need to bring women at parity with men and this was only possible when women would get better education and opportunities to grow.

Addressing a ceremony organised by the APML on the eve of the International Day for Women, Musharraf said that the reserved seats for women should not be utilised to bring male politician’s female relatives to the assemblies and reserved seats should be filled on merit.

He also said that well-educated, enlightened and progressive women could bring change to the society and they could lead the women well and also work for women rights.

The APML chief also said that during his tenure in office, the government took major steps to politically empower women. He said that women should play an active part in the economic prosperity of the country and for this, they needed to be socially and economically empowered.

Musharraf said women should rise above their present status and come on parity with men and work for the prosperity of Pakistan. Speaking about his family background, he said that he hailed from a middle-class family background but there was a tradition of educating women in his family. His own mother was an educated lady.

“My family was progressive and my mother, her whole life worked and participated in the economic resources of the family. This was how my brothers and I got good education and continued our studies. On March 31, it is the 99th birthday of my mother,” he added.

“In my tenure, women were allocated with 60 reserved seats and in the local government system, we allocated 4 out of 13 seats to women so that they may be politically empowered and during that time women could also contest elections on general seats against men. At that time 13 women reached the parliament beating male candidates,” Musharraf said.

He said that now only those women who were ‘related to male politicians reached the parliament’. Had there been merit, progressive and educated women could be lawmakers, he added.

He also stressed the need to uplift women while changing mindsets and raising awareness. “Unfortunately, women in the rural areas are not educated and there is less awareness among them. If women need rights equal to men, they need to attain equal education,” he added.

APML President Dr Muhammad Amjad while addressing the event said that Pakistani women should support Musharraf as it was during his tenure that unprecedented steps were taken for their uplift. “In local bodies alone, women were allocated 33 per cent reserved seats. In national and provincial assemblies the ratio of women seats increased and women participated at the decision-making level,” he added.