KARACHI: The Sindh government is planning to set up a provincial commission to monitor and resolve women’s issues, said the women development minister on Thursday.
A law on this will be passed in the Sindh Assembly soon, said minister Rubina Qaimkhani, while talking to the media after a women’s rights meeting in the committee room of the assembly. “Pakistan is a signatory to the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women,” she pointed out. “This convention was adopted in 1979 but the condition of women is fading with each passing day so the provincial government is committed to launch the provincial commission in Sindh.”
Thursday’s meeting, arranged for the capacity building of new female MPAs, was attended by women’s rights activists, lawmakers and experts.
Anees Haroon, former chairperson of the National Commission on Status of Women, highlighted issues, such as honour killings, freewill and forced marriages, acid throwing cases. “After the 18th Amendment, it is now the provincial government’s prerogative to make a law,” she said. “You people should grab this opportunity and join hands on women’s issues, irrespective of your party policies.”
Pakistan Muslim League — Functional’s Nusrat Seher Abbasi felt that female MPAs are in a race to get credit for such legislations, which, she felt, is not a good sign. The outgoing assembly, with the help of the then National Assembly speaker Fehmida Mirza, had taken initiatives by establishing a “women caucus” in Sindh on the same pattern as the parliament, she said. This bloc of female MPAs aimed at enhancing the role of women in parliamentary politics. “It was supposed to dedicate itself for women’s rights but the treasury members did not take it seriously and it went in vain.”
Qaimkhani promised they will try to make the women group functional but, she added, the provincial commission on the status of women would be a permanent forum. “The members of civil society organisations, women’s rights activists and lawyers will be members of this forum where, not only women issues will be taken up, but research studies will be conducted as well,” she explained. “This commission will review whether the legislations in the Sindh Assembly are against or for women’s rights before they are passed.”
According to Mahnaz Rehman, the resident director of Aurat Foundation, they have been advocating for such a commission at the provincial level for the past several years but to no avail. “Earlier there was only a national-level commission, but the Khyber-Pakhunkhwa government established one,” she pointed out. “This will be a proper forum for women,” she hoped.
The chairperson and members of the commission will be nominated from civil society organisations and independent bodies with experiences in women rights, Rehman explained, adding that the commission will start an advocacy and mobilisation campaign on women’s rights. “Most important bills, such as one on child marriages, are pending for a few years but Sindh Assembly has yet to pass it. I think not only women but men should also come forward and resolve women’s issues.”
Source: The Express Tribune