Pakistan

Pakistan committed to women empowerment across all sectors: UN told

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has told the United Nations that the government of Pakistan is committed to alleviate and improve the situation of Pakistani women.

Speaking during the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at United Nations Headquarters, Chairperson of the National Commission of Women and leader of Pakistani delegation Khawar Mumtaz said that gender equality and women development is part of the country’s long-term national planning framework, known as Vision 2025.

Pakistan’s constitution, she said, guaranteed equal rights for all its citizens without discrimination and ensures full participation of women in all spheres of national life.

“Through their dedication and hard work Pakistani women continue to dismantle conventional stereotypes. Women as a prime minister, speakers, ambassadors and federal secretaries have performed outstandingly when given the opportunity,” she added.

She told the panel that Pakistan has 20% women in parliament and up to 33% in local government, with the Election Commission of Pakistan working to promote greater women turn-out in the elections.

“Yet, like any other society, while Pakistani women have accomplished a lot, a lot more still needs to be done,” the chief Pakistani delegate said.

Mumtaz expressed Pakistan’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and said that Pakistan was a signatory to seven core UN human rights conventions.

She said that the government’s National Sustainable Development Strategy, National Education Policy, Climate Change Policy, Disaster Risk Management Policy, all included a gender perspective.

Mumtaz told the delegates from around the world of the steps taken by the government to reduce ‘feminization of poverty’ and ensure equality. These included fostering greater female participation in the workforce, through non- traditional skill development programmes and provision of financial resources.

Besides the Prime Minister’s Youth Business Loan with 50% quota for young female entrepreneurs, Mumtaz said, there were now over 50 institutions providing credit and microcredit facility to women across the country.

She also told the international gathering of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) providing a social safety net to women. BISP, she said, has disbursed monthly stipends to the tune of 40 billion rupees to around 5 million women of which 76% beneficiaries retain control over the cash disbursed.

The chairperson of the National Commission of Women said Pakistan has enacted legislation to provide protection and create an enabling environment for women.

“Other legislation at the federal and provincial levels concerned protection against harassment of women at workplace, ‘honour killings’, acid and burn crimes, rape, domestic violence and very importantly the Hindu Marriage law giving inheritance and identity rights to women of the minority community of the country”, she added.

Mumtaz also told the UN of other institutional measures that were underway for the inclusion of women with disabilities and trans-genders in the policy net and setting up monitoring systems with emphasis on sex disaggregated data collection through cutting edge IT technology.

“Commissions on status of Women, Human Rights were already in place, and Minority and Child Rights Commissions were in process,” she said.

She concluded her statement by saying that Pakistan, a founding member of UN Human Rights Council, was a candidate for a seat on the Geneva-based body for the term 2018-2020. She expressed confidence that the international community will once again repose their trust in Pakistan, by electing us to the Council.

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