Seminar calls for crackdown against abuse of social media in Pakistan for committing harassment of woman activists, entrepreneurs

There should be effective implementation of laws to crackdown against the extensive use of social and digital media platforms for unabatedly harassing activists striving for the cause of women’s empowerment and female professionals and entrepreneurs who work to utilize their skills for the national economy.  
This was one of the recommendations at a seminar on women’s empowerment organised by the National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) here at a hotel and attended by working women who have excelled in different fields.
Those who spoke on the occasion demanded that social media shouldn’t be an arena where anti-social elements don’t face any check or policing to commit harassment in its worst form against prominent female professionals and activists who are fully committed to the cause of gender equality.
Saira Bano, a former head of KCCI’s women entrepreneurs’ committee and a homoeopathic practitioner, lamented that despite the adoption of several stringent laws on this issue the working women continued to face incidents of harassment in urban centres on a daily basis.
She said that such unchecked incidents discouraged properly educated women to utilize their qualifications in the best interest of their own families and for the improvement of the national economy.
Najia Asher, a renowned TV news anchor who now runs a media-related think tank, said that despite so much work done to adopt laws against cybercrimes the issue of online harassment of women was far from over in the country.
She said that there should be an effective check on the use of social media as a means to deliver hate speech against social activists who had been striving hard for the cause of women’s rights.
She praised that the growth of the private sector in the electronic media had provided widespread opportunities for women to work in the field of journalism.
She called for changing the attitudes of the mainstream political parties while narrating an incident earlier in the day when a mainstream religious party discouraged a female reporter of a TV news channel to cover their event in Karachi while advising her that she shouldn’t be present at the all-male venue.
She said that the Internet had emerged as a major blessing for skilful women to showcase their talent through platforms of e-ecommerce for earning without leaving their homes.
Sabeen Gul, who heads the CSR and Sustainable Development Wing of the National Bank of Pakistan, said the National Bank had the fullest resolve to support women who wanted to contribute to the national economy by launching their small and medium businesses.
She said the National Bank partnered with a number of non-profits and non-governmental organizations that ran specialized programmes to enhance knowledge of budding female entrepreneurs about the financial side of the business.
Huma Waheed, a member of the managing body of KCCI, said the Karachi Chamber stood for the empowerment of women who wanted to enter the arena of business and industry as they should get all the due facilities and privileges available to the leading businessmen in the country.
Seema Tahir Khan, who is associated with private TV media, said that Islamic teachings stood for empowering women to work in every field along with the male members of the society as the civil liberties of women shouldn’t be curtailed in the name of religion.
She said that every woman should fully believe in her qualities, qualification, and skills and did her best to excel in practical life and shouldn’t be discouraged by the elements who believed in gender discrimination.
Aarifa Anis, Country Head of Saylani Welfare Trust, said that her non-profit had been striving for skill development of women to enable them to work in the field of IT and computer technology.
Mirza Ishtiaq Baig, Founding President of Make-a-Wish Foundation Pakistan, said that law should be adopted to make it compulsory for every company to reserve one per cent of its profit for CSR-related causes.
Ruqiya Naeem, NFEH Secretary-General, said that her NGO had planned to organise more such events on a regular basis to discuss in detail the issues delaying the fulfilment of the cause of women’s empowerment in Pakistan.
NFEH President, Naeem Qureshi, said the women should come forward to keep Pakistan clean and green as per the current national agenda.

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