Govt reaffirms pledge to protect women’s rights
By Amin Ahmed
ISLAMABAD: On the occasion of International Women’s Day being observed on Monday, the government has pledged its national and international commitments to protecting women’s rights and reviewing discriminatory laws.
President Asif Ali Zardari in a message appealed to all political parties to join hands to extricate women from the agony and embarrassment of discriminatory laws. “Let us mobilise the collective power of women to help make our country, the region and the world more tolerant, harmonious and secure,” he said.
“It is reassuring that in accordance with this year’s theme the government has enacted a far-reaching legislation aimed at protecting women from harassment at workplace. Also, the government has declared women as beneficiaries of Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) as well as of free distribution of stare lands in the command areas of the new dams proposed to be built in the country,” the president said.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said in line with the vision of Benazir Bhutto, the government was taking steps to ensure that women are not only emancipated from exploitation of all forms but are also empowered in the true sense.
“Women’s legal and economic empowerment is the prime aspiration of the government. We can only ensure this by providing financial security, harassment-free working environment and creating opportunities for women. Launching of Benazir Income Support Programme, passage of Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2009 and legislation for Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Bill 2009 are the landmark in this direction, he said.
He assured the women that the government would take all necessary measures to safeguard their rights as equal citizen of the country.
The objective of the day is to recognise women for their achievements without regard to national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political divisions.
The year 2010 is a milestone year for women’s rights and gender equality – marking the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, the outcome of the fourth world conference on women in Beijing in 1995, and the tenth anniversary of the millennium declaration.
The theme of this year’s women’s day is “Equal rights, equal opportunities: progress for all”.
It has been estimated that as many as one in three women across the world has been beaten, raped or otherwise abused during the course of her lifetime. And the most common source of such violence comes from within the family. Amongst the most extreme forms of abuse is what is known as ‘honour killing.
Most of the 5,000 honour killings reported to take place every year around the world do not make the news, nor do the other myriad forms of violence inflicted on women and girls by husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, uncles and other male – and sometimes even female – family members.
In Pakistan, women have been given increased role in every sphere of life. Now they are working in every field including police, army, air force, health, education, business and as ministers at federal and provincial cabinets, elected representatives and even as speaker of National Assembly.
There are 232 women members in the Senate, National Assembly and provincial assemblies. NGOs and civil society organisations are also playing active role for the cause of women.