Postage stamp launched to raise awareness of gender-based violence

Published August 11, 2023
The National Commission on the Status of Women, Ministry of Human Rights, and the UN Women launched a commemorative postage stamp to raise awareness about gender-based violence in Pakistan. — Photo courtesy UN Women
The National Commission on the Status of Women, Ministry of Human Rights, and the UN Women launched a commemorative postage stamp to raise awareness about gender-based violence in Pakistan. — Photo courtesy UN Women

ISLAMABAD: The National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), Ministry of Human Rights, and the UN Women launched a commemorative postage stamp to raise awareness about gender-based violence in Pakistan.

The commemorative stamp was selected after a poster competition on ending gender-based violence held during the 16 days of activism in December 2022.

Speaking on the occasion, NCSW Chairperson Nilofar Bakhtiar said: “For the first time in the history of Pakistan, a postal stamp has been created by Postal Service of Pakistan and approved by the prime minister which is purely for the empowerment and advancement of women. It talks about violence against women and enhances the role of survivors in society. It is very different from the stamps in the past which have honoured outstanding Pakistani women or marking important conferences for women.”

She added: “We should not allow, as a nation, any man, organisation, any machinery and anyone who wants to sabotage our dreams. The NCSW recognises this as its mandate. Let us dedicate this commemorative stamp to all those 116 million Pakistani women - most of whom do not know we are here at the Marriott thinking of them. They are out there in the fields under the scorching heat, toiling. Let us dedicate this stamp to those young girls, minors, who may be sitting in front of wooden stoves, cooking meals. Allow me to dedicate this stamp to the brick kiln workers, the mothers who are pregnant or feeding babies, who cannot have a glass of milk for themselves. This is for those women!”

A roundtable consultation in response to the rising wave of incidents of violence against women was held in tandem with the launch. Gender experts, representatives from the Ministry of Human Rights and Islamabad Capital Police and the NCSW put together a series of demands and a resolution identifying the mechanisms and actions necessary to reduce the prevalence of gender-based violence in the country.

Photographs produced for a coffee table book by the Czech embassy in collaboration with the Pakistan National Council of Arts and artworks by women depicting the lives of women contributed by Nomad Art Gallery were displayed alongside posters from the competition.

Sharmeela Rasool, country representative UN Women, said: “Gender equality is absolutely paramount if all Pakistanis are to celebrate their Independence Day in its true spirit. That is what is said in your Constitution. Your Constitution guarantees gender equality. When it was written your founding fathers and mothers dreamt of a country that was gender equal.”

She added: “If you go around to see the posters and pictures, you will see one word cropping up over and over again – harassment. Stop harassment crops up repeatedly. This is the perception of the people of Pakistan. This needs to change; harassment needs to stop. Our message to all of you is that you show your commitment by participation and holding hands with us in all our events, talking with us and raising your concerns but we now have to take it to the action level. Action brings change.”

Hafiz Shakil Ahmed Qureshi, chairman Pakistan Post, said: “A postage stamp is a window to the world. A small stamp travels without any boundary. We are a member of the Universal Postal Union which declares the whole world as one postal territory. This one message written on the postal stamp will travel across the world.”

Khwaja Imran Raza, secretary NCSW, said: “We as NCSW are the coordinator and sustainer, the custodian and the advocate, the promoter and the watchdog as far as the laws and policies are concerned. Violence against women and girls still remains the most pervasive human rights violation in the world with one out of every three women facing the dilemma and the problem is increasing, not decreasing.”

Increasing risks and stresses like climate change, global emergencies, crises and conflicts, that are intensifying violence against women. Coupled with patriarchy, these exacerbate the imbalance of power. Strategising to eliminate the rise of violence against women requires a multi-faceted approach, rooted in collaboration, education, advocacy and policy reform.

The event brought together key stakeholders to reinforce the importance of bringing the issue to the forefront of discourse.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2023

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