ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on the Appointment of the Chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) on Wednesday selected Khawar Mumtaz, who served as chairperson of the commission during the previous tenure, as the chairperson once again.

The committee chaired by MNA Tehmina Daultana received three names from the prime minister and the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, held interviews on the spot and selected the new chairman.

Talking to media persons, MNA Daultana said all three candidates were very competent and that making a decision had been difficult.

“Ms Mumtaz was unanimously selected and a letter is being sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for notifying the chairperson. I am sure the prime minister will respect the committee’s decision,” she said.

Ms Mumtaz’ three-year tenure ended on December 31, 2015 after which acting charge of the commission as given to the Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar for a month. After the expiry of the acting tenure, the commission remained headless.

According to MNA Daultana, the committee had been given the names of former NCSW chairperson Mumtaz Khawar, a professor of law Dr Farkhanda Zia and Huma Chughtai, who has vast experience in working in areas of governance, gender and development, parliamentary strengthening and human rights.

The three candidates were interviewed and told to wait in an adjacent hall while the committee made a decision.

After her interview, Ms Chughtai told Dawn that the committee members had asked her about her vision for NSCW and that she had replied that she wanted to work with the grass roots level.

“I told them I have visited some of the most far flung areas including Qamar Shahdadkot and that I prefer travelling to the rural parts of the country to trips abroad,” she said.

Dr Zia said she was interviewed about women related issues and that she had replied that there was a need for raising awareness about laws and that she will review laws related to women.

Ms Mumtaz said she had talked about institutionalisation and proper planning.

“I told [the committee] that we need to facilitate other institutions because that is how we can address issues faced by women,” she said.

According to Ms Daultana, the members of the committee associated with the PPP had wanted to postpone the meeting of the committee as Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had called a party meeting. However, Ms Daultana had insisted the committee meet on Wednesday so that the selection of the new chairperson is not further delayed.

“I called the PPP members of the committee and their input was also part of the decision, so the chairperson was unanimously selected by the PML-N, PPP, PTI and MQM,” she said.

MNA Daultana said that the next chairperson will be selected before the expiry of the incumbent chairperson’s tenure. Talking to Dawn, the new NCSW chairperson said that all of the commission’s plans were stopped due to the absence of the chairperson and that she will now continue with the plans.

“We wanted to hold a national survey for determining the effects of violation against women on their participation in the economy. Funds were also set aside for this, but the survey was not initiated due to the unavailability of a chairperson. I will not see that the survey is conducted. Appointments also need to be made on 100 posts,” she said.

Ms Mumtaz added that she will be able to take charge as the chairperson after a notification is issued from the Prime Minister’s Office and that the three day tenure will start from the day she takes charge.

NCSW was established in July 2000 and is an outcome of Pakistan’s national and international commitments such as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 1995 and the National Plan of Action (NPA) for Women 1998.

The commission was established to examine policies, programmes and other measures taken by the government for women’s development and gender equality; review laws, rules and regulations affecting the status of women; monitor mechanisms and institutional procedures for redress of women rights violations and individual grievances, encourage and sponsor research; conduct studies relating to women and gender issues; develop and maintain interaction and dialogue with NGOs, experts and individuals nationally and internationally.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2016

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