Women’s access to education, health critical for social development: Samina Alvi

Samina Alvi urges trade bodies to play leading role in rehabilitation, inclusion of DAPs

ISLAMABAD, Mar 7 (APP): Begum Samina Alvi, wife of President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday said guaranteeing equal rights to women, particularly their access to education and health, was critical for the development of society.

Speaking at a painting exhibition by former ambassador Naela Chohan in connection with Women’s Day, Samina stressed empowering women by providing them equal opportunities to help them attain their full potential.

The solo exhibition titled ‘Art from the heart’ at the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) depicted the struggles of women. Chohan’s statement artwork named ‘Bosom’ reflected the perils in the life of a woman in a ‘triangle of death, suffering and hope’.

Samina Alvi emphasized raising awareness about the health issues concerning women, such as breast cancer and mental illness.

She mentioned that breast cancer was one of the leading causes of death among women. Also, the country’s 24 percent population suffered mild to moderate psychiatric issues, with the majority of it comprising women.

She mentioned that phenomenal work had been done by President Alvi and herself in the social sector, particularly breast cancer awareness, financial inclusion of women, persons with disabilities, and issues related to mental health.

Samina said the President’s House had also initiated the task of improving access to mental health facilities in Pakistan through a collaborative effort towards the prevention of mental health disorders across the country. With the help of various stakeholders, she said, a mental health helpline and Artificial Intelligence-based chatbots were being launched to provide counselling.

She said a recent study by a screening centre in a public sector hospital revealed that 32 percent of the respondents mentioned that media was their prime source of information on breast cancer and the reason for getting themselves screened.

Samina said art could prove as an effective tool of soft diplomacy and lauded the paintings by Naela Chohan that highlighted the issues pertaining to women.

Former Ambassador Naela Chohan, who served as High Commissioner to Australia besides her diplomatic assignments in 10 countries, said her paintings have a strong visual voice to create awareness about social and women’s issues.

In recognition of her strong advocacy for women’s rights, she said, UNESCO held a solo exhibition of her paintings, which is kept on permanent display at its headquarters in Paris since 2002.

Director General PNCA Ayoub Jamali said PNCA was committed to promoting significant aspects of the country and encouraged community participation.

Naela Chohan has opted for various modes in her paintings including mixed media and oil on canvas, paper collage, and batik on silk. The themes of her artwork such as ‘Suffering since immemorial’, ‘Fading glory’, ‘Dignity of labour’, and ‘The dancing puppet’ speak for themselves about the women’s cause.

The exhibition will remain open to the public till March 9 and the proceeds will go to charity.

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