Pakistan reaffirms commitment to empowerment of women at UN forum

Post Source: Associated Press of Pakistan

UNITED NATIONS, March 4 (APP): Pakistan’s democratic government has taken a number of legislative and economic initiatives to ensure empowerment of women and protection of their rights, Ms Anisa Haroon, Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women, said.

Pakistan draws inspiration for gender equality and empowerment of women from the vision of its founding father Quad-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah who emphasized women’s role in development of the country, she said.
Ms Haroon informed the 54th session of Commision on the Status of Women here that the elected government in Pakistan is moving forward the vision as articulated by former prime minister Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto for women empowerment under a four-pronged strategy.
The strategy aims at reducing feminization of poverty, promoting gender equality, ending violence against women and introducing necessary legislative structure to empower women, she stated.
Ms Haroon particularly cited the recent legislative moves by the democratically elected government including adoption of laws to protect the rights of women. These include the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2009 and Protection against Harassment at Workplace Bill 2009 while the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act is under consideration.           

“These legislative measures have been undertaken with the involvement of all stakeholders including the civil society organizations,” she said and appreciated the support extended by the vibrant women’s movement in Pakistan. Among other initiatives taken for economic empowerment of women, the Benazir Income Support Programme is an innovative scheme, which provides cash grants to female head of a poor household, she added. “This improves the decision-making role of the female head of the family and allows her to spend that cash grant on a priority laid down byher.”

Another initiative is a Programme for the grant of State Land to poor women tenant farmers in the rural areas, chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women said.  Acknowledging that adult functional literacy for women particularly in rural areas contribute substantially to empowerment of women, the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) has helped gained functional literacy to over 2 million women in rural areas.
Pakistan’s Gender Parity Index for adult literacy has increased in the last six years, she said. Besides, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and Medium Term Budgetary Framework have incorporated various gender-sensitive amendments, Ms Haroon stated. The Ministry of Women Development’s “Gender Reform Action Plan (GRAP)” is aimed at undertaking a coherent gender reform agenda through phased implementation processes, including political participation, institutional restructuring, women employment in the public sector, and gender responsive policy and budgeting. Ms Haroon informed the Commission that Pakistan’s Constitution guarantees equal rights for all its citizens without any discrimination on the basis of cast, colour, sex, or race. It further ensures full participation of women in all spheres of national life. Women have gained increased role in every sphere of life in Pakistan. Women of Pakistan are now working in Civil Service, Foreign Service, Police and Military services.
“Pakistan has the honour of electing Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as the first woman Prime Minister of the Muslim world. Today, we proudly have the first woman Speaker of the National Assembly in South Asia, 17 women Senators (17% out of 100-member Upper House) and 76 women parliamentarians (22.5% out of 338 members of Lower House).”
The National Commission on Status of Women in Pakistan was established in year 2000, to examine the relevance and efficacy of all laws, policies, programmes and measures for women empowerment and gender equality. The process to make the Commission fully autonomous is underway.          The Commission on the Status of Women this year is undertaking the fifteen-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly.

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