The Department of Sociology Holds Symposium on the Role of Working Women in Society
The National Working Women Day in Pakistan was celebrated on 22 December 2021. On this occasion, the University of Swabi organized a symposium to highlight the role of working women in society. The objective of this activity was to raise awareness about the crucial role played by women in the workforce, discuss ways of improving working conditions for women in the country, and explore how to bolster support for working women in tackling workplace related challenges. The event was the second in a series of seminars, symposiums and other activities aimed at promoting academic excellence and increasing awareness about important social issues.
In the opening remarks, Dr. Abdul Majid Khan, welcomed all the guests and gave an introductory session in which he explained why the role of women was crucial in the welfare and uplift of a society. Dr. Khan emphasized women participation is not only a requisite of gender equality but also a key ingredient in the recipe of a nation’s success and prosperity. Women, he said, constituted half of our population and were equally poised to contribute toward the betterment of society and its progress by being an equal and active part of the workforce. “Equal opportunity, gender equality, and fighting challenges faced by working women are a must if we are to see a more prosperous and developed Pakistan,” Dr. Khan remarked.
Dr. Humera Manzoor, assistant professor at the Institute of Management Sciences at Kohat University, was the next speaker and conducted a virtual session. In her informative talk, she examined a variety of issues related to working women in Pakistan. She pointed out that the workplace atmosphere in Pakistan was not very conducive for women. In comparison to men, women faced a lot more challenges at the workplace and had to struggle much harder. Women, she explained, had to face hurdles at every step including at home, workplace and in society at large. At home, women were expected to look after household affairs and thus women always have to split their time between household chores and work. At the workplace, the challenges are even greater and include lack of gender sensitive policies, harassment and hostility at the workplace, denial of equal professional and leadership opportunities and occupational hazards. Even in the society at large, there are stereotypes defining women's role which hinders their progression and can also be stigmatizing.
Several female faculty members participated in the event by giving a brief account of what it was like to be a working woman in Pakistan. Speaking from the point of view of a working woman, each speaker gave a unique and interesting insight into the experience of working as a woman in our society, the challenges and problems faced, and the availability or lack of support from co-workers, family members and the public. It was evident from these talks that life as a working woman in Pakistan was challenging and fraught with many hurdles.
Professor Dr. Nasir Jamal Khattak, Vice-Chancellor, University of Swabi, in his concluding remarks, provided a thoughtful analysis of the issue. He reiterated the point that women participation was absolutely necessary not only to create an equal society but also to develop and progress as a nation. Women, he said, can equally contribute to the economy of a country if they are allowed to work alongside men on equal terms and without any disparity or discrimination. The story, he lamented, was not as rosy as we may wish or as some people may want us to believe and it was a fact that the working environment for women in Pakistan was full of obstacles and difficulties. Drawing on from his own experience, he said he has always supported women to assert themselves and never bow to harassment or discrimination. Dr. Khattak encouraged that we all take it upon ourselves to support women at the workplace by fighting stigma, harassment and other social ills which stop women from achieving their true potential.
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