ISLAMABAD: The government of Balochistan on Friday decided to improve its anti-harassment cells and inquiry mechanism with support of the UN Women (UNW) Pakistan to effectively fight harassment of women at workplaces.

The UNW signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the office of the ombudsperson Balochistan to work together to improve data collection mechanism and strengthen systems for better data collection, reporting of complaints and assessing trends through reported cases.

The MoU was signed here by Aisha Mukhtar, deputy country representative UNW, and Sabira Islam, the ombudsperson for protection against harassment Balochistan.

The signatories have agreed to enhance mechanisms for responding to cases of harassment through development of training materials and training of trainers.

The two sides will cooperate on capacity building of anti-harassment cells and inquiry committees to deal with cases of harassment as well as awareness raising on harassment laws and compliance requirements.

Provincial govt and UN Women will work to enhance mechanisms for responding to cases of harassment

Ms Islam expressed the need to protect women and girls from harassment at workplaces.

“We are planning to work together to ensure that there is effective implementation of workplace harassment laws across the province in order to enable women reach their full potential, feel protected at workplaces and actively take part in economic activities,” she remarked.

Ms Mukhtar appreciated the personal interest of Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal in establishing harassment cells at the district level across the province.

She reiterated UN Women’s commitment towards strengthening institutions and mechanisms for preventing and addressing sexual harassment at workplaces.

“Harassment at the workplace holds women back from progressing as they embark on a journey of social and career development.

“We all need to understand that girls and women have a fundamental and legal right to work in a safe environment,” she said, adding the environment has to be free from harassment and discrimination.

She said the office of the ombudsperson had a crucial role in ensuring effective implementation of the harassment laws.

Women Development Department Director Noor Mubashir Sami expressed his department’s commitment to continue supporting the ombudsperson’s office to ensure that the women of Balochistan feel safe and protected as they step out to pursue education or take part in economic activities.

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2019