A LADY WITH POSITIVE ATTITUDE

TAHIR KHAN
Nov 05 - 11, 2007

I was lucky to interview Mrs. Irum Farouqui, Manager, HR, Pearl Continental Karachi. I found her to be a mild, sophisticated, intelligent worker; however, she attributed all the goodies to her family brought up and was more proud to be called a good housewife and mother. A woman's whole life is a history of the affections, she adds. She was in Rawalpindi to attend a Women Empowerment Training session jointly funded by Hashoo Group, Hashoo Foundation and ILO, held at Pearl Continental Rawalpindi.

According to her, today's women have a pivotal role to play in the economic development of a country. without women's contribution unimaginable, keeping in view her multidimensional roles such as daughter, sister, wife and mother at the domestic front and outside her ability to be an industrious and successful lady worker. during the course of interview she refered to the quotations of L. Ron Hubbard that "A society in which women are taught anything at all but the management of a family, the care of men, and the creation of the future generation, is a society which is on the way out" and another quote by C.L.R James that "A new type of woman arises. She is called a career woman. The name is stupid but nevertheless very revealing. A man is never a career man. That is his right and privilege. He can have his career, and the finest fruit of his successful career is wife and children. But the woman is called career woman because her "career" in modern society demands she place herself in a subordinate position or even renounce normal life".

Highlighting the role of women in the development of a country in various fields especially economics she provided me with some details, most likely after going through the website of the Ministry of Development, stating that it is a national focal Ministry for the advancement of women, social welfare and special education. It is suppose to play the role of an advocate, planner and coordinator of women, children, elderly and special person. It is responsible for formulation of policies and laws to meet the special needs of women ensuring that women interests and needs are adequately represented in public policy formulation by various organizations and agencies of government, promotion and undertaking of projects for development of women, matters relating to equality of opportunity in education, training, employment and facilities in health care and community development. She maintained that a national policy has been formulated for women development to serve as a guide for the government to initiate focused programme to enhance women s participation in socio-economic development. It would also contribute towards enhancing the status of women through mass awareness campaigns and gender mainstreaming. The policy would provide medium and long term vision for women development in the country and provide contours of strategic plan for implementation. The ministry is preparing a large project to address the gender and poverty issue in the country. It would be closely linked with the GOP s devolution plan and the Zakat and Bait ul Mal programmes to reach the target beneficiaries, the poorest and the marginalized segment of the population.

The project is likely to benefit 20,000 women through provision of financial assistance and imparting requisite training in multiple skills including information technology. The project would be executed through various means involved in extension of micro credit to women. Ms. Irum praised the role of Working Women Association, which came into existence as a response to meet the housing and other needs of young professional women.

Association has come long way in its networking and other development activities for girls and women. Currently it has its membership spread in all the four provinces and enjoys the observer status with UN Economics and Social Development division New Your. Its main functions consist of networking, holding of workshops and conferences and doing research on critical issues facing working women. It also runs some projects of working girls Education and Skill Enhancement besides working women hostels.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES:

> To enhance the status of working women in the urban as well as rural areas through recognition of their economic role.

> To enhance the consciousness level and self-awareness amongst Pakistani women in general and working women in particular.

> To encourage women to take up job to raise the socioeconomic standard of self, family and nation.

> To undertake socio-cultural studies which determine and define the role of women in national development.

> To highlight the economic role of women relating to their participation in household work, farm activities. Wages and employment in the country.

SERVICES:

In order to meet these objectives, the following services are provided by the association. To provide hostel and other support facilities to working women to facilitate them in their job.

> To hole seminars, lectures and workshops to raise the consciousness level of women.

> To carry out researches and exploratory studies on the needs of special categories of women e.g. professional women, white collar. Workers in public and private sectors and women with special needs.

> To establish education and skill enhancement Center for girls and women at grass roots.

> To organise healthy recreational activities like mountaineering, tracking, participation in national and international conferences.

RESEARCH:

The Association has been undertaking research in following areas:

> The data collection surveys and policy studies on development of women and girls in urban and rural areas.

> The attitude and impact surveys of special populations. Joint Ventures with other consulting agencies in multinational projects for social impact human resource development and environment.

> The monitoring and evaluation studies of development projects

> The studies to quantify the economic contribution of women relating to their participation on household, farm activities, handicraft and employment sector studies are carried out.

Action research to sensitise the society regarding the plight of rural girls and women in domestic services.

TRAINING:

The Association promotes and carries out training programs, which prepare women for non-traditional occupations and there by expand their job opportunities. Human resource development, environment, income generation skills and teachers training programs are carried out regularly.

Pakistan is continuously showing an upward improving trend when we talk of women now. Women are active participants in the productive process. They play a vital role as farmers, workers in the public and private sectors, as employees in the manufacturing industries and in the service sector. Women are an integral part of the economy. They are represented in economic decision making forums, have access to credit, formal labour markets and land ownership, socio-cultural and economic factors. These include education and skill level, social mobility and attitudinal and institutional freedom.

Khushali Bank is also extending loans to women entrepreneur for promotion and expansion of their business/trade. The Ministry of Women Development, Social Welfare and Special Education is also pursuing with Export Promotion Bureau for a joint proposal on promoting women entrepreneurs to participate in the mainstream commerce. Irum maintains that our religion Islam emancipates women from patriarchal structure with compartmentalized gender roles. It does not forbid women's mobility, social interaction and their economic activity, however all should be according to the prescribed rules made equally for both the sexes. Islam gives honourable freedom to women including their roles in the sphere of production and related economic activity as producers and providers of services.

The male head of a Pakistani family would not allow his female relations to work in a factory after sunset, work long hours outside the home, this is all for the betterment as I feel the same for my children. The tradition of veiling or partial veiling does not restrict women's access to education, employment, training opportunities and social services, I and hundreds of my colleagues are the examples. Women working in hotels, hospitals, schools, private sectors are wrongly portrayed in the society. Like in Islam, Hashoo Group has very transparent and honurable rules and policies, giving more rights to the women. we are also the main tools in the economic development.