KARACHI: An office to house the Sindh Commission on the Status of Women (SCSW), the legal body for promotion of social, economic, political and legal rights of women of Sindh, was formally established and inaugurated on Wednesday.

The SCSW is an autonomous institution set up to safeguard the interests of women in Sindh and to minimise vulnerabilities encountered by them. The office is located in old KDA building, Sindh Secretariat.

Members of different government departments and civil society organisations participated in the event held at a hotel where it was formally declared that the body had an organised office.

Organisers said the office had been established with the support of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) under the project ‘Policy Advocacy and Research to Strengthen Implementation of Pro-Women Legislation and GBV Response Services in Sindh’, also supported by Trócaire under its Gender Programme funded by the Australian government.

The Sindh Commission on the Status of Women Bill, 2015 was passed by the Sindh Assembly on April 6, 2015 and published as an Act of the Legislature of Sindh.

As per this act, the Sindh government would constitute the SCSW to exercise the powers conferred upon it, and to perform the functions assigned to it.

The organisers said the support to the cause was aimed at promoting social, economic, political and legal rights of women as provided in the Constitution and international declarations, conventions, treaties and agreements relating to women, including Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women.

The SPO officials said they provided necessary office furniture and fixtures like computers, multimedia, chairs, tables, internet devices, scanner, printer, ACs and other items proposed by the chairperson of the SCSW.

“This support is aimed at providing better environment to the SCSW so that it could function as per its objectives,” said an organiser.

The SCSW office bearers, members, lawmakers of the Sindh Assembly, secretaries of women development, home, human rights and social welfare ministries, civil society members and representatives of Trócaire, and the Australian High Commission attended the event.

Chief executive of SPO Saleem Malik appreciated the civil society and the government for joint efforts to strengthen the SCSW.

An SPO official said that the SCSW was there to support women in getting their rights by examining the laws and monitoring their implementation.

Ishrat Jabeen, programme director of Trócaire, appreciated the work.

The Australian High Commission praised the strong coordination of the government departments with civil society to promote pro-women laws in Sindh. Chairperson of the SCSW Nuzhat Shireen said the commission would design and implement a three-year strategic plan of action to meet the demands of vulnerable women in Sindh.

“This will start with the making of three or four model women-friendly districts in Sindh,” she said.

Saira Shahliani, convener of the Women Parliamentary Caucus, highlighted the mutual areas of cooperation between the caucus and the SCSW to support women in distress for protecting their rights enshrined in the law books.

Irum Khalid, Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Women Development, said the commission, as a corporate and autonomous body, would serve the demand and supply side of the pro-women legislation and its implementation in Sindh.

Kalpana Devi, a lawyer, said the efforts taken for establishment of the SCSW would put everyone that supported these efforts “on the right side of history”.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2017

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