By Zubeida Mustafa
NEW DELHI, Dec 14: Women were the focus of discussion on the second day of the pre-summit ministerial meeting on education for all organised by UN1CEF, UNESCO and UNFPA. But all that was highlighted about the low status of women has been said ad nauseam at conference dealing with women and female education.
UNFPA executive director, Dr Nafis Sadik, spoke of the link between women’s education and low fertility and low infant mortality. She called for literacy and education being made easily accessible to women.
It fell to Shabana Azmi, the Indian film personality and social activist, to explode the myth that education by itself improves the status of women.
In a hard-hitting and powerful speech, she said economic emancipation does not come automatically for a woman who earns. Women’s education should be so designed as to lead to their liberation and empowerment, Shabana said.
This is possible if education creates an awareness in them of their worth and rights, she added.
‘The good news for women in Pakistan was conveyed by another panelist, Shahnaz Wazir Ali, the PM’s Special Assistant on Education.
She said it was an article of faith with the Benazir Bhutto government to bring about the empowerment of women. She said that five per cent seats were being reserved for them in government services and efforts were being made to appoint them to the supreme court.
Shahnaz Wazir Ali also said that the government planned to scrap archaic laws and repeal the laws discriminatory against women.
The morning session focussed on finances for education. The Indian human resources development minister, Arjun Singh, said that without funds, education for all would be long on rhetoric and short on action. He called on governments themselves to mobilise adequate resources for catering to the basic learning needs of their citizens. They should look beyond conventional budgeting for mobilising higher resources for education, Arjun Singh said.
Source: Dawn 15 Dec 1993