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After observing International Women’s Day,  it is timely to reflect on the progress made in the journey to gender equality and the challenges that remain. With believing every day is women’s day, to celebrate, it is important to know where we stand in the global fight for women’s rights. Over the years, International Women’s Day has evolved over the years from a symbol of protest to a celebration, power and advocacy day. It’s a day to celebrate women’s achievements in fields ranging from politics to science, art to business, communication and nursing, where we are not, even in space.  It is also a day to raise awareness of issues women continue to face, including gender-based violence, discrimination and unequal opportunities.

Despite tremendous progress in gender equality, much remains to be done. Globally, women have fewer leadership positions, earn less than their male counterparts, and have barriers in  education and health Gender-based violence is a widespread issue, with millions of women facing physical, sexual , or psychological abuse every year. But amid the challenges, there are signs of progress and hope.

Globally, many women are protesting injustice and demanding change. Movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp have shed light on the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault and inspired conversations about consent and respect. “Aurat March” in Pakistan is one of the symbols of raising voices for women. However, the challenges to Pakistan women are more than that of these protests. It begins with domestic violence, rejecting women’s skills, not owning their choices, stereotypes, psychological pressures, and imbalanced distribution of food, wealth and intellectual properties.

The constitution of Pakistan stipulated that the “equal rights and the chapter on Principles of Policy underlines the principle of equal rights and equal treatment to all citizens/ persons, without any distinction including on the basis of sex”. At the same time, we have just 20 per cent, participation of women in the formal workforce, which is “one of the lowest both in South Asia”. Again reason’ could be different from low education levels, mobility challenges and gender norms bound women from entering and being retained in the formal workforce. Not only this, women do not recognise other women’s efforts which is also a big obstacle in the path of women’s progress. From home to the workplace, challenges travel with women.

There is no doubt, women’s voices are being amplified and heard like never before. Moreover, the importance of interpersonal communication in the fight for women’s rights has been increasingly recognised. Women of colour, women with disabilities, and women from marginalised communities often face unique challenges and discrimination, here intentionally, ignoring transgender though their struggle is far higher than ours.

For the newly-elected or selected Government of Pakistan, women’s agenda seems nowhere. With ‘no-specific’ policies for women, it is important to acknowledge and address these inequalities to create an inclusive and equitable society for all women.

As observing International Women’s Day, let’s take this opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women around the world. Let us honour the pioneers who have paved the way for progress and acknowledge the contribution of women in every sphere of society. Referring to Icchra Bazar Lahore incident, let’s start not begging ‘pardon’ from women what are other misunderstandings? Let’s adopt whatever makes a woman comfortable to wear. Let’s start giving her respect affably. Let’s give her due portion in wealth and land distribution. Let us also join the struggle for gender equality and justice. Whether through advocacy, education, or activism, each of us has a role in creating a world where women and girls can thrive and fulfil their potential.

the writer tweets at @SophiaSiddiquii