My friend Riffat Naim had come from Lahore to stay with me, to attend a couple of conferences. Of course I opted to drive her around, and ended up in Gymkhana Club of Rawalpindi on 11th of March – over 30 km from my home.
Now that I was there, I thought I might as well enjoy it. My friend tried her best to push me into the projects too, but I was avoiding, as I’m already knee deep in my own projects, and don’t need any diversions at this point. I took along my books and cards to share my friend’s table of Strawberry jams. She makes jams and chutneys which are amazing.
The speeches were to begin inside the hall, so we walked in:
There were several speeches by each member. Shameem Kazmi head of the ABPAW ( Association of Business, Professional and Agricultural women ) started on a very light note, and later became serious. She said that the root cause for women’s problems is in this order:
- Ignorance – jahiliyat. Lack of knowledge which gives her fears, insecurities and lack of confidence.
- Financial and economic weakness. Even when she gets any money she hands it over to others with her generosity, ending up as a pauper again. She needs to learn the value her own earnings. She needs to keep her money within her own control.
- Power of decision making in matters affecting her own life. This includes choice of field of education, career, marriage partner, number of children, choice of professions and so on.
- Dowry: Most women are themselves guilty of propagating this criminal ‘tradition’. Every parent likes to send off their child with something, but it must not be obligatory, nor should it be demanded.
- Corruption: Stop corruption done by your husband. You are in-charge of your home, and make sure nothing illegal is brought into it.
Shameem ended her speech by Habib Jalib where he asks everyone to light his own candle,
” ….. Apnay hissay ki shama jalaein.”
Mr. Aamir from the Social Development of Women, asked everyone to please invite your maid for a cup of tea and ask her how she manages her home in Rs.10,000/- Per month. Rs. 8000/- per month.
The ABPAW began in 1954 by Begum Rana Liaqat Ali Khan, who was wife of Liaqat Ali Khan, who did great work for the uplift of women in Pakistan. I realized, this is just the kind of organization that I want to become a member of; Especially, because it deals with issues relating to women belonging to all the socio- economic levels. That is awesome.
All the ladies involved were motivated and doing great work in their own regions. My friend Riffat Naim is the General Secretary of Lahore branch.
There were others representing Multan, Peshawar, Karachi and Rawalpindi/Islamabad. Each one gave a brief report on the kind of work they were doing, the main aim being to educated women and strengthen them through skills and loans to start their own business and professions. Tehmina, the head of Rawalpindi/Islamabad branch was hosting the event. In her speech she said something very fascinating: “There have never been any defaulters among the persons who take loans from us. They are from the grass root level of society, and even if it takes them twelve years, they will return the loan. However, if the person dies, we wave off the rest of the loan and do not ask the family to give it.”
Sadia from SPARC was conducting the event. Now ABPAW has become so self-sufficient that it had donated Rs.100,000/- to SPARC which gives free education to street children.
An elderly lady was asked to speak about her business of goats, which she began with a loan from ABPAW and how she became independent due to it.
A gentleman from the Government office came to inform the ladies that now, the Government has made it mandatory for landowners to give the women of their families their share of inherited property. No one can now take the property of the women of their families. If they do, there is a helpline 1043 where you can record your complaint, and find out how to get your own lands. (Now, they tell me! Still, I’m pretty skeptical.)
A lawyer spoke about how they have provided free lawyers to women who are deprived of resources and can get free legal aid through them.
The lunch at the end in the sunny lawn was delicious and gave one the opportunity to meet more ladies. Each one was accomplished and full of interesting experiences. I met Bushra who had been a former president also, and has worked in television and radio in Rawalpindi.
Thanks to Riffat, I attended this meeting of Women Entrepreneurs in Rawalpindi. All this was in connection with the 8th of March being the International Women’s Day.
That really tickles me, when over 50% of world’s population is allocated with ONE day all over the world, to celebrate their importance and value! It’s so funny. I’m just looking forward to the day when one day will be allocated for men to appreciate their value and importance.
Weird world we live in.
At least we women know how valuable we are, and what a priceless contribution we make to the world, throughout the year.
Each one of us has a lot of work to do, whatever age, stage or place you are in, remember we need more empathy for those around us. That we have a lot to do for them in every way that we can.
Frankly, we are all human beings first , and then women. Wherever we find injustice we need to fight against it, whether it is towards a man or a woman. Its just to make this world a better place for those around us, and those coming into this world after us.
Stay blessed my dear reader, and keep smiling and enjoying the perks of life in today’s funny world. 🙂