103rd International Women’s Day Celebrated
President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain stressed on collaborative efforts by the government and civil society to change social mindset that hinders the effective implementation of pro-women laws.
He was speaking at an event jointly organised by Aurat Foundation and Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights, and UN Women to celebrate 103rd International Women Day (IWD) on Saturday, March 8, 2014, at Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA). Civil society activists from all parts of the country and people from all walks of life participated enthusiastically in these activities and expressed their resolve to continue their struggle for equal status of women.
President Mamnoon Hussain said that the government is committed to provide all support to women and realise that there could be no development without women participation in development. “We want women to become active part of mainstream economic activities. Side by side, I will advice women of my country to respect their identification as a Muslim and as a Pakistani.” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Senator Pervaiz Rasheed said the main hurdle in the empowerment of women is the patriarchal structure of the society which portrays men as rulers. “The pro-women legislation is there. Civil society is also putting in all effort. The only missing link is the will of people to grant space to their women and have faith in them,” he pointed out. He gave the example of Prime Minister Youth Loan scheme. He said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gave 50 per cent share of the scheme to women but in response, less than 2 per cent of applications were received from women.
Ms Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) demanded the government to declare Women Home Based Workers as labors. “It will increase our ratio of women participation in labour market which is one of the lowest in the region,” she said. Barrister Zafarullah, Federal Secretary for Ministry of Law and Justice, said that protection of women rights is the priority of the government. He said the government respects its international commitments with regard to women and children and planning to introduce special cells at federal and provincial level to monitor the implementation of international commitments.
Dr Masuma Hasan, President Boad of Governors, Aurat Foundation, demanded of the government not to compromise women on rights during peace talks with Taliban. Another major event was organised in the evening where civil society kept its tradition of organising a rally which started from China Chowk and ended at Parade Choke in front of the Parliament House where participants made speeches and presented their Charter of Demand.
Rallying on International Women’s Day
The rally was organised by EVAWG alliance in collaboration with IHI, CRM, WAF and FADAN networks.
A statement issued at the rally demanded of the government to repeal all discriminatory laws, ensure the enforcement of existing pro-women laws and approve the pending pro-women legislation in all provinces including Fata, Pata, GB & AJK.
It pointed out that after 18th Constitutional Amendment (2010), there is an urgent need for strengthening the national and provincial women’s entities, especially the National Commission on the Status of Women and establishment of Provincial Commissions on the Status of Women. The statement also demanded 33 per cent minimum representation of women in the Local Government System at all tiers.
The statement also demanded of the government to strengthen the criminal justice system through sensitisation of the law enforcement agencies on attitudinal change in dealing with cases of violence against women and girls (VAWG) and revision of the rules and procedures of police investigation and prosecution. It suggests the government to strengthen the gender crime cell and increase the number of women in the police force.
The statement urged the government to eliminate unconstitutional, illegal, unjust, traditional “adjudication” councils, called ‘jirgas’ and ‘punchayats’ and termed them women/girls and develop a National Policy and Strategy on Ending Violence against Women and Girls, from prevention to rehabilitation phases besides adopting holistic, comprehensive, strategic and well-resourced action to ensure the safety and protection of women human rights defenders and justice for those killed.