URI Women Wing Pakistan and Peace Center Lahore organized a program on International Women’s Day with the theme of #BalanceforBetter at Peace Center on March 9, 2019. Many distinguished guests participated for the promotion of the female gender at large. Her Excellency Mrs. Hanna Birks from Australian High Commission Islamabad, Pakistan was the Chief Guest and Mrs. Hamida Shaheen, a famous poetess, writer, and educationist, presided over the program.
The program started with interfaith prayers from Christianity, Islam and Hinduism; the representatives offered prayers according to their faith. Mr. Asher Nazir, Executive Secretary of URI Pakistan, welcomed the honorable guests and shared the campaign theme: Balance for Better.
Sr. Sabina explained that today is the day to celebrate feminism with the theme: Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change. “We are gathered to support women morally because it is understood that we cannot survive and run the universe without the dedicated and devoted contribution of women.” She also mentioned the presence of women from various marginalized areas, waving at the name tags on their tables. For more clarity, a video was played on multimedia regarding the concerned activities done by the URI Women Wing Pakistan.
The guests of honor were Mrs. Sunita Munawar, Mrs. Anila Dogar, Dr. Sadia Umer, Mrs. Shabnam Nagi and Dr.Ereej Faran. They shared that women are mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. They need respect and love. Men should give them chance to prove their capabilities. There are many women and young girls serving as police, army, doctors, and engineers in Pakistan.
Young girls from Bright Future Cooperation Circle from Bakar Mandi performed very nicely, and gave a message about how to become strong women. All men and women received beautiful flowers from the management of URI and Peace Center.
There were some women who came from marginalized areas, like Brick Kiln, with whom URI Women Wing has been successfully running vocational training centers since 2012. These women have a vivid positive economic change in their lives, thanks to Sr. Sabina Rifat and her passion to help the needy women and children. The women said, “Before learning the sewing skills, we were working at Brick Kiln, but we were neither happy nor secure and confident. Thank you, URI Women Wing, for supporting us to upgrade our lives.”
Sr. Sabina, in her address, thanked them wholeheartedly and acknowledged the active support of URI Women Initiative and global staff. She also thanked URI Cooperation Circle coordinators who have been very supportive to her while traveling to these areas.
From URI Women Wing, sewing centers have been opened in different villages in different provinces of Punjab like Saharanpur Sharif, Bakar Mandi, Balandanwala, Kasur, Pato Ki, Dajkot, Liaqatpur, Hasilpur, Chack 64, Najaf Colony, Rajghar, Yohannabad and Nizam Pura Kasur.
“For us, Sr. Sabina’s personality is like a cool air blowing in the killing warm desert,” the women said from Sharqpur. The others gave witness that she has brought confidence and happiness into their lives.
Fr. James Channan OP, Director Peace Center and Regional Coordinator, is contributing a lot to promote the culture of peace and interfaith harmony.
Mr. Faisal Ilyas, Executive Secretary, Peace Center shared the message of United Nations General Secretary Antonio Guterres. The International Women’s Day (8 March, 2019) this year, “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change,” puts innovation by women and girls, for women and girls, at the heart of efforts to achieve gender equality.
Fr. James Channan OP introduced Chief Guest Mrs. Hanna Birks from Australian High Commission-Islamabad, explaining that it is one of the leading countries, implementing human rights, dealing gently with gender equality and a developed country. Ms. Hannah said, “I am very happy and delighted to see so many women, men, young girls and children here to celebrate Women’s Day. On behalf of my country, I would like to tell you that Australians are very devoted to implement gender equality, to give equal rights to all human beings. We are trying our best to support human rights, gender equality and women empowerment in Pakistan through our projects.”
Mr. Asher Nazir shared the message of respected Ms. Kiran Bali, URI Global Council Chairperson, in which she appreciated the contribution of women towards betterment of the world. She mentioned the WAKE Cooperation Circle’s work and shared globally for its contribution;
“The projects of Women and Kids' Education (WAKE) Cooperation Circle in Pakistan is a perfect example of empowering women and positioning them as leaders in their communities.”
Mrs. Hamida Shaheen, poetess, writer and educationist, shared her poetry. She said, “Woman does not want to replace the position of a man. Rather, she wants her own individual identity, full role, confidence, trust and priority to function. Men and women are integral part of the society and you cannot build a society without their role.”
Fr. James Channan OP thanked all the guests, especially Mrs. Hanna Birks, Mrs. Hamida Shaheen, Adv. Mrs. Shabnam Nagi, Dr. Sadia Umer, Mrs. Sunita Munawar and Sr. Sabina Rifat.
See more photos in the Facebook album.
Reported by Asher Nazir
Executive Secretary, URI Pakistan