ISLAMABAD: As the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign kicked off across the globe, UN Women Pakistan and the Swedish embassy celebrated champions who had played their part in accelerating efforts to end violence against women and girls in the past year.
The event titled ‘2020 in Retrospective – Celebrating Pledges Made to End Violence Against Women was held on Friday night and was attended by government officials, diplomats and development partners.
Welcoming guests at the ceremony, the Swedish ambassador, Henrik Persson, appreciated the concerted efforts of stakeholders to stand against gender-based violence.
He said: “No country is unaffected. Gender-based violence is found everywhere. Clear policies, legislation and changes of attitude are necessary. The self-evident right of women, girls to decide over their own bodies is being challenged. It must be defended.”
In 2020, under the global theme of ‘Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!’ UN Women Pakistan encouraged participants to make commitments for ending violence against women, and a number of pledges were received by partners to bridge funding gaps, show political will for calling for an end to violence and ensure essential services for survivors of violence.
To appreciate the commitments and actions taken on pledges made, nine awards were presented to individuals from the federal capital, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh. The recipients were ASP Amna Baig of Islamabad police, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Federal Judicial Academy Director General Hayat Ali Shah, Women Parliamentary Caucus Secretary Munazza Hassan, Ombudsperson for Protection Against Harassment at the Workplace Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Rukhshanda Naz, Sindh Commission on the Status of Women Chairperson Nuzhat Shirin, Ombudsperson for Protection Against Harassment at the Workplace Balochistan Sabira Islam, Communications Specialist at TransPeshawar Umair Khan and Secretary and Women Development Department, Balochistan Zafar Buledi.
Country Representative UN Women Sharmeela Rasool applauded the meaningful steps taken by the award winners in solidarity for ending violence against women and girls.
“We haven’t responded to the shadow pandemic of violence against women in a way we have responded to the current pandemic of Covid-19. Without us acting together, we will not be able to end this grave violation of human rights. I appeal to all women and girls, men and boys to be the voice of the voiceless, break the cycle of violence and don’t just be a passive bystander,” she said.
Human Rights Secretary Inamullah, the chief guest at the ceremony, said: “Domestic violence acts have been promulgated by all four provincial governments. The Ministry of Human Rights has also introduced Domestic (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2021 which has been under consideration by the Parliament. Sensitisation and awareness raising of public is one of the regular features to end violence against women.”
To symbolise hope and a brighter future for women, UN Women Global Ambassador Muniba Mazari recited a poem ‘Still I rise’ by Maya Angelou. The event ended with a celebratory performance by Natasha Humera Ejaz, a singer and songwriter from Islamabad and members of UN Women Pakistan team.
Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2021