Sindh gets into gender equality
Karachi: A meeting of the newly-established provincial committee on the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on Wednesday decided to appoint focal figures in health, local government, education and information departments to protect women’s rights.
The secretary of local government was also instructed to collect data on gender issues from the district coordination officers.
Chief Secretary of Sindh Fazal-ur-Rehman, who presided over the meeting, asked all the departments to evolve a strategy for protecting women’s rights with specific reference to the provincial CEDAW committee’s line of action.
The issues of women prisoners and the difficulties being faced by women in getting national identity cards also came under deliberation, according to official sources.
The Sindh government had established a provincial CEDAW committee on May 14, 2010, for collection of updated data and implementation of the CEDAW, an international convention which was signed by the government of Pakistan.
The committee would meet once in three months or earlier if required.
The formation of the Sindh CEDAW committee was part of a national action plan chalked out for implementing the convention in Pakistan by the year 2013, according to the sources.
The federal government had formed a committee at the national level that had proposed an action plan in which different strategies were proposed for legislation, ensuring implementation, capacity building of public officials, strengthening ministries of women development, provision of services like shelters for violence victims and elimination of the “informal dispute resolution forums” like a jirga, etc.
The action plan’s report had pointed out lack of access to justice, the feudal system, some corrupt law-enforcement personnel, poverty and illiteracy as some of the factors leading to the need for holding a jirga.
The CEDAW committee’s report had suggested several steps to curb the tradition of a jirga which included sensitizing the people on the gender-insensitive nature of a jirga, the need for making justice accessible to and affordable for all, reviewing the nature of the cases dealt with by a jirga, revisiting the concept and practices of Musalahat-e-Anjuman and ensuring the implementation of the Sindh High Court judgment for eliminating the informal dispute-resolution forums.
The report had also suggested sensitizing the religious scholars, the teachers, the lawyers and the government functionaries on the issues of gender discrimination and to minimize the influence of extremism and fundamentalism which prevented women from getting their rights.
It had also recommended to the government to introduce a gender-sensitive curriculum in schools and madrassas to counter the influence of extremism in society.
The CEDAW’s report stated that a limited political will, lack of awareness of the impact of this declaration on the status of women and on the implementation of the Convention in general, lack of understanding of the nature and scope of CEDAW, misconception about CEDAW as a tool of Western culture were the main hurdles in the way of implementing the convention in Pakistan.
In order to remove these hurdles, the report had suggested for lobbying the parliamentarians, holding discussion on CEDAW and the impact of reservations and declarations with relevant ministries, using examples of other Muslim countries like Morocco which had adopted CEDAW and creating an understanding about the importance of a broad definition of “discrimination” in line with Article 1 of CEDAW.
The said Article stated that “discrimination against women” shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of gender, which had the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural and any other field.
Source: The News