ISLAMABAD: Whilst admitting that people in the country are not gender neutral, Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Mohammad Farogh Naseem said on Thursday that Constitution and laws did not discriminate against women in any way. He said the government has enacted laws to safeguard the property rights of women.

The law, if implemented in letter and spirit, will guarantee the rights to a woman on her property, within three months of filing a complaint with the ombudsman.

“The Supreme Court judges are eager to have a female colleague elevated to serve with them at the Supreme Court. Last year, Judge Lubna Saleem Pervaiz was sworn in as the first female judge of the Islamabad High Court and the chief justice is very happy with her performance,” he said while addressing the virtual launch ceremony of a project titled ‘Increasing Women’s Representation in Law’ at the Australian High Commission.

The ceremony was streamed live on Facebook.

Mr Naseem said that awareness regarding laws, enacted to help build women’s capacity in the legal profession is vital for woman empowerment. He said there were brilliant judges, highly educated and competent women associated with the legal profession.

Says Constitution, laws do not discriminate against women in any way

The overall mindset in Pakistan has changed and women in judiciary are being given the space, for which there was a dire need.

He said the incumbent government has done a lot on the agenda of women empowerment.“We have enacted law to safeguard women’s property rights.

The law if implemented in letter and spirit, will guarantee right of a woman on her property within three months of filing a complaint with the ombudsperson.

There is a need to create awareness regarding this landmark legislation and other such laws, so no one usurps the legal rights of a woman, and also so that women are fully aware of where they can have redressal,” he said.

Mr Naseem expressed support for the initiative and said the symposia will help in the capacity building of young men and women in the legal profession.

Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice Barrister Maleeka Bukhari, hailing the government’s agenda regarding women empowerment, said there is a dire need to address the gender gap in the legal profession and women should have a place in the decision making quarters.

“The present government has enacted laws to support women and children with legal aid in criminal cases. The web portal/app on women in law will help identify women lawyers in Pakistan,” she said.

Increasing Women’s Representation in Law is a joint initiative of Australian High Commission, Group Development Pakistan (GDP), Women in Law Network and British High Commission while Ministry of Law and Justice will also collaborate and facilitate the it. A memorandum of understanding was signed by Ministry of Law and Justice, GDP and Women in Law Network for this purpose.

The project envisages three activities as deliverables including women in law awards, symposia on increasing women’s representation in law and other aspects of gender, child justice and diversity in law, and a webportal, mobile app to highlight the achievements of women in law.

Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Geoffrey Shaw, Deputy British High Commissioner to Pakistan Mrs Alison Blackburn, GDP Executive Director Ms Valerie Khan, Women in Law Network head Ms Nida Usman Chaudry and Ms Ambreen Abbasi from the Ministry of Law and Justice also participated in the ceremony.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2020