*High level Women’s Forum marking 70 years of China-Pakistan diplomatic relations, Dr Shireen Mazari*
Islamabad : In an online high level Women’s Forum marking 70 years of China-Pakistan diplomatic relations, Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari highlighted the achievements of women and girls in China and Pakistan. The forum was organized by the Embassy of Pakistan in Beijing in collaboration with the All China Women Association and All Pakistan Women Association, with a special emphasis on women’s rights, poverty alleviation and the role of women in post-COVID recovery.
The Minister stressed the importance of China and Pakistan’s strategic partnership, and the opportunities which CPEC will continue to create in Pakistan. She said “we hope to see women being included in the vocational and technical training being conducted under this vital strategic partnership” and stressed that “CPEC is, and will continue to be a game changer not only for the two countries but for the lives of ordinary citizens in both countries”.
In the context of COVID-19, she highlighted the measures taken by the present government to ensure the protection of women and girls during lockdown, especially since “pandemics exacerbate existing gender inequalities”. In light of the disproportionate burdens women face during public health and economic emergencies, the Government of Pakistan and Human Rights Ministry played a critical role in ensuring the welfare and protection of marginalised groups, and addressing a rise in gender-based violence. In order to register human rights violations and complaints during the ongoing pandemic, the Ministry utilized it’s national Helpline 1099 as well as the Helpline 1099 App. A secret code has been embedded in MOHR 1099 helpline for female victims of domestic violence who are unable to speak in the presence of their abusers.
The Minister also emphasized that the Government of Pakistan has taken critical steps towards strengthening legislation regarding violence against women, harrassment, rape, and discrimination. Recently, the Ministry of Human Rights reached an important milestone by getting the Domestic Violence Bill 2020 passed by the National Assembly of the Parliament in order to establish an effective system of protection, relief and rehabilitation of women, elders and any vulnerable person against domestic violence.
During the pandemic, the Ministry of Human Rights also published a report on the impact of COVID-19 and disaster vulnerability in Pakistan. The research was carried out with the objective to improve understanding of the multifaceted impacts of Covid-19 on the lives and livelihoods of Pakistanis, and facilitating a people-centred approach to the pandemic. The Minister said this “analysis can serve to guide the State’s strategic, operational and policy endeavours to combat the COVID 19 crisis in a more holistic manner.”
In the end, the Minister emphasized her hope of strengthening our relationship with China, in order to create opportunities for ordinary citizens, and share our common experiences so that we may “forge further ahead to empower women”.
This forum aims to foster institutional linkages between leading representative organisations for women of the two countries.