Need to strengthen women across party lines, provincial Commissions: Nilofar Bakhtiar

Need to strengthen women across party lines, provincial Commissions: Nilofar Bakhtiar

Karachi: (VOM) The 18th Meeting of the Inter-Provincial Ministerial Group (IPMG) was hosted by the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), Sindh Commission on the Status of Women (SCSW) and UN Women Pakistan in Karachi. Representatives from Federal Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR), Women Development Departments (WDDs), provincial commissions and parliamentary bodies on women development came together to strategize on collective efforts in strengthening coordination mechanisms, data collection and analysis and dispensing timely justice to survivors of gender-based violence.

The IPMG is the only inter-provincial coordination forum having the potential and effectiveness for supporting the women’s empowerment and gender equality agenda through sharing of experiences, fostering peer learning, and developing strategies to fulfil the country’s national and international commitments. The group is structured to ensure representation of Ministers and Secretaries of Women Development Departments from four provinces, Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and the Chairpersons of National and Provincial Commissions on the Status of Women.

Chairperson NCSW, Ms. Nilofar Bakhtiar, said, “We need to strengthen women’s representation and participation across party lines and provincial commissions. The National Commission on the Status of Women is fully committed and determined to unite and work with the Government and women’s machinery across the country to bring about positive change in the situation of women and girls in Pakistan.”

Ms. Nuzhat Shirin, Chairperson, Sindh Commission on the Status of Women (SCSW), in her opening remarks said, “Sindh has been at the forefront of progressive laws and policies especially for women. For this purpose, it is vital that the bureaucracy and different departments working for women, unite.”

The representatives called for concerted actions towards implementing the provisions in the Constitution of Pakistan and CEDAW focusing on ensuring women’s voice, visibility and agency through efforts at the national and provincial levels.

Ms. Sharmeela Rassool, Country Representative of UN Women Pakistan highlighted the need for engaging the whole population in order to boost economic growth and sustainable development. She added, “We need accelerated and focused efforts to uplift women of Pakistan. Engaging 50% of the population to its fullest potential is no longer an option – it’s an imperative.”

Mr. Muhammed Hassan Mangi, MoHR, encouraged the women machineries at the federal and provincial levels to support the data collection for Pakistan’s international reporting commitments.

All the provincial departments and commissions shared information on the progress achieved during the year 2021 and updated the participants on future plans with a view to enhancing coordination and collaboration among the women machineries of the country.

In the closing session, the Secretary of the NCSW, Mr. Arif Baloch, said, “The strategic plan developed by the NCSW is the result of consultation with all the provincial and national stakeholders and machinery. The way-forward for all stakeholders is to focus on improving the status of women in Pakistan and use the platforms and forums such as these for coordinated efforts.”

The forum agreed to form a national level committee to combat violence against women and give a loud and clear message during the upcoming 16 days of activism campaign.