ISLAMABAD: Celebrating International Women’s Day at Pakistan National Centre for Arts on Wednesday Human Rights Secretary Rabia Javeri Agha recounted the achievements of the ministry towards bridging gender gap and moving towards gender equality.

In her opening remarks at the event, she highlighted future steps and the way forward to accelerate sustainable development in Pakistan. She claimed of significant progress made in terms of reviewing and strengthening laws, rules and regulations affecting the status of women in Pakistan.

The year 2020 marks several important milestones in the global movement towards female empowerment and gender equality worldwide.

It marks a five-year milestone towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals; the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security; and the 10th anniversary of UN Women’s establishment.

“The Ministry of Human Rights, in coordination with relevant federal and provincial departments, is undertaking a number of interventions proposed under the Action Plan for Human Rights to uplift the status of women. This includes a model policy on violence against women and girls, a policy for Home Based Workers, as well as establishment of a Helpline 1099 for legal advice, an Endowment Fund for free Legal Aid for poor victims, and a Women Protection Centre for free legal and psychological aid.”

The event featured a panel discussion on the theme of generation equality that was moderated by Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari.

Participants said that generation equality emphasized women’s right for an equal future such as equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work.

They also stressed the need for ending sexual harassment and violence against women and girls, health care services that responded to their needs, and their equal participation in political life and in decision making.

The event also celebrated the achievements of female trailblazers from diverse professional fields and disciplines in Pakistan.

This included female fighter pilot, Nadia Gul; visually impaired rock climber, painter and a social activist, Dr Zarina Hassan; Pakistani cyclist Samar Khan, and Shiza Younas, a young community volunteer from Balochistan.

The event also featured a musical performance by the Biryani Brothers, a female duo consisting of Natasha Noorani and Zara Peracha, founders of Lahore Music Meet, Pakistan’s largest music festival.

Secretary of the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) Humera Azam Khan conducted the event as the Master of Ceremony.

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari concluded the event with a closing statement.

“International Women’s Day reminds us of the importance of supporting the participation of women and girls in all spheres of economic, social and political life. It also provides an opportunity to praise the achievements of women and to highlight their needs and concerns at the national, regional and global level,” she said.

“We have laws which were not implemented. Our women are not aware of their rights. We have to give rights to our women and create awareness as well,” the minister said.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2020

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