The global pandemic was an existential crisis for all, indeed, but during such a turmoil and conflict, women were at the epicentre of all intersects, stated federal minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman while shedding light on the atrocities faced by women during the pandemic.
Federal Minister shared her thoughts while speaking at an exclusive Power Talk session titled ‘Women, Power and the Ghost of the Pandemic, hosted by Pathfinder Group of Companies in collaboration with Martin Dow Group at Pakistan Pavilion during the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.
Renowned educationist and Senior Vice Chairman Karachi Council on Foreign Relations (KCFR) Dr. Huma Baqai moderated the session. Huma commented that while she considered girls dropping out of school a tragedy the minister informed her it was the domestic violence during covid. Senator Sherry Rehman stated that during the pandemic, women found their homes, a place that is supposed to protect you, to be a place of violence and fear instead.
She said, “We are taught in schools about public policy and liberal democracy but what we are not taught is that it isn’t about seeking redistributive justice. It is about levelling the social pyramids and that includes patriarchy as well.” She continued, “In our carelessness towards women, we are creating an Armageddon in our everyday lives. Our patriarchal society strips women of the autonomy to make decisions about their lives, bodies, future, access to education, and opportunities.”
While talking about the rights for women and how they have been terribly exploited by the structure of our society, Sherry said, “The right to education is seen as a privilege for girls, while for boys, it is considered a necessity.” She further added that women need to step out of their comfort zones to change that narrative.
The income gap between women and men is still huge in workplaces. The stats show that only 20% of our total population make up the women in workplace while the fact that they work in fields, fisheries, factories, garment sweat shops and other such places is totally overlooked, she said Though women in Pakistan even in the remote areas are empowering the economy yet they are not provided the autonomy and recognition they deserve, she added
While replying to a question on rising divorce rate, Sherry Rehman mentioned a bill she was trying to get passed with the Federation allowing the women to choose who they marry or at least banning the marriages of minors. However the said bill has only been approved in Sindh so far, she said.
“Young women, when coerced into a marriage, are not empowered enough or informed enough, (or both), to make health choices. If you do not have the basic information on when to space your pregnancies, you will have high mortality rate, which is extremely high in Pakistan already,” said Sherry. While concluding her talk, federal minister said that our entire culture is built around putting the women into child bearing process, whether they are willing or not. That is a basic right that needs to be provided to our women.