NGOs working in Pakistan for Women’s Rights
Mohammad Ali Jinnah said in Speech delivered at Islamia College for women March 25, 1940:
I have always maintained that no nation can ever be worthy of its existence that cannot take its women along with the men. No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men. There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.
The father of nation knew the importance of more than half of population and her participation. He time and again mentioned the equal rights of women in his speeches, In 1940 he said:
No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you; we are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live.
When it comes to rights and government’s responsibility to protect and provide people with their rights; it is known truism that governments cannot ensure. At micro level there semi or non-governmental organizations work either to guide government what to do or assist in what government is already doing. These auxiliary organizations help governments in one or other way. Such bodies are called semi or non-governmental organizations or NGOs.
To larger extent NGOs are playing positive role beside few negative aspects. In recent few years Women Rights have been highlighted on international levels from Pakistan; NGOs have major role in promoting their rights. Huge number of NGOs on National and Local levels working for women issues. According to a research conducted by the students of University Of Karachi/ Department of Social Work in 2004, 101 registered NGOs working for the woman’s right in Pakistan. Few are working for health awareness, few are engaged in providing loans on micro levels, few working for physically or sexually exploited women, few guide women to start small entrepreneurs and few are only busy in women empowerment.
NGOs working for women have addressed issues like education, health, economic independence, employment, some are working to stop the injustice against women and raise their status as individuals in society. NGOs working for the protection and rehabilitation of women from the crimes such as sexual and domestic violence, Acid Throwing, and provision of legal protection to the victims are more active e.g. Dastak, Bargad, Aurat Foundation etc.
In British era a movement was started for women by Fatima Jinnah and few other vocal women of that time. The significant outcome of movement can be measured with an example that in early 20th century only four out of thousand women in this region were literate and according to the CIA website the literacy rate of total population of Pakistan as of 2005 was 49.9% where as the share of females in this is 36%.
With the time, the motives and goals of this movement kept changing according to the need of hour. In an article, Lewis (1994, here) said:
“The women’s movement has shifted from reacting to government legislation to focusing on three primary goals: securing women’s political representation in the National Assembly; working to raise women’s consciousness, particularly about family planning; and countering suppression of women’s rights by defining and articulating positions on events as they occur in order to raise public awareness”.
Few of the NGOs have done remarkable work however urban areas have been the preferences of the NGOs. Woman in rural areas is still spending same life and facing same problems; her previous generations have seen. Only few “unfortunate” enough rural women victimized by “Wadaira system”(feudal); get attention of NGOs. Mukhtaraan mai and Dr. Shazia have been vital examples. These women have been magnet for media whereas lucrative for NGOs in bringing funds and fame. Destructive side of the picture is unimaginably sad. Where many NGOs have helped poor women for good cause, many have just exploited women for commercial reasons.
However role of NGOs can be made a lot better when the preferences are well defined and the motives are clearer. Few commercial NGOs have done real harm and that spoiled constructive image of the NGOs system in Pakistan. Let a good thing remain good and play the role that is best for all. NGOs with wrong motives should be discouraged who are misusing of the funds they collected from international Donner Agencies in the name of rehabilitation of victims. Moreover bringing bad name not only by exploiting Pakistani women issues on international levels but also using funds for their own selves.