Canada celebrates achievements, contributions of Pakistani women


ISLAMABAD: The High Commission of Canada continued the celebrating the International Women’s Day with the launch of its new documentary “The Journey of Pakistani Women” on Thursday.

This retrospective documentary highlights the history of the Pakistani women’s movement and Canada’s support over the last three decades. A 17-minute film produced by Islamabad’s White Rice Communications, shares insights from several key Pakistani leaders, including Hina Jilani, Farida Shaheed, Khawar Mumtaz and Harris Khalique.

Organisations such as the Kashf Foundation, Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO Pakistan), the Aurat Foundation, South Asia Partnership Pakistan and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) shared their thoughts on how best to help empower women and girls. Members of the audience were delighted to hear directly from women entrepreneurs and politicians who have benefited directly from Canadian support.

In keeping with the documentary’s message, the Canadian high commission was pleased to convene a youth panel discussion. Canada remains committed to creating opportunities for Pakistani women to raise their voice as full members of the society.

Agahi Foundation Founder and Chief Executive Officer Puruesh Chaudhary said, “Social media is increasingly becoming a bridge between girls that are being educated and the ones contributing their talent in the digital space along with workforce in a traditional environment, thus fuelling growth and development of the communities, cities and countries.”

Heinrich Böll Stiftung Pakistan Resource Equity, Energy Innovation and Climate Change Programme Coordinator Mome Saleem said, “Countries like Pakistan have come far in achieving many of the targets, however, the gender policy needs to be made a central pillar of the fragile and infant democracy, and the legal system of the country.”

On the occasion, lawyer and activist Benazir Jatoi said, “The greatest obstacle for Pakistani women is that the legal frameworks that have been established over the years have not been translated into de facto enforceable rights. Despite the law telling us that we enjoy fundamental rights and equality but the social/institutional framework in which these laws operate do not allow for such rights to be enforced by those they seek to protect.”

Canadian High Commissioner Perry Calderwood noted that Canada is building upon its 30 years of support for the empowerment and inclusion of women in Pakistan. “Empowerment is having the opportunity to make better choices through education, financial independence and the exercise of democratic rights. I am proud to say that Canada is committed to promoting gender equality not only as a human right but also as an essential element of sustainable development. With the adoption of our Feminist International Assistance Policy, Canada supports women’s movement around the world in its work to overcome the economic and political marginalisation of women,” he said.