Administrative Framework for the Implementation of the Convention.
Ministry of Women Development.
The Ministry of Women Development is the national focal machinery for the advancement of women and implementation of CEDAW. The provincial Women Development Departments (WDD)s assist it at the provincial level. The Ministry’s women main functions are as follows:
to ensure women’s interests and needs are adequately safeguarded and met by various organs of the government;
to ensure equality of opportunity in education and employment and fuller participation of women in all spheres of national life; and
to undertake and promote research on the conditions and problems of women and to undertake and promote programmes and projects for providing special facilities for women.
Pakistan’s representation in international organizations dealing with problems of women in bilateral contacts with other countries.
Matters relating to equality of opportunity in education and employment and fuller participation of women in all spheres of national life.
Implementation of Pakistan’s international commitments relating to women such as CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action etc.
Until 2004, the Ministry was known as the Ministry of Women Development, Social Welfare and Special Education. However in the reorganization of various ministries, carried out in 2004, the Ministry was re-designated as the Ministry of Women Development. Social Welfare and Special Education became a separate ministry. While this move has reduced the size of the Ministry, it has also made it more focused and has thus enhanced its efficacy as the Government of Pakistan’s main policy formulation organ on women’s issues. Actual implementation of the policy is for the executing Ministries such as Health, Education, Population Welfare, Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis, Law, Justice and Human Rights etc.
The National Commission on the Status of Women
The National Commission on the Status of Women was established through a Presidential Ordinance on July 17, 2000. The Commission is mandated to:
Examine the policy, programmes and other governmental measures for women development and gender equality, to assess implementation and make suitable recommendations for effective impact;
Review laws, rules and regulations affecting the status and rights of women and suggest repeal, amendment or new legislation essential to eliminate discrimination, safeguard and promote the interests of women and achieve gender equality in accordance with the Constitution and obligations under international covenants and commitments;
Monitor the mechanism and institutional procedures for redress of violation of women’s rights, individual grievances, and facilities for social care, and undertake initiatives for better management and efficient provision of justice and social services through the concerned forums and authorities;
Encourage and sponsor research to generate information, analysis and studies relating to women and gender issues to provide knowledge and awareness for rational policy and strategic action;
Develop and maintain interaction and dialogue with non-governmental organisations, experts and individuals in society and an active association with similar commissions and institutions in other countries for collaboration and action to achieve gender equality and development at the national, regional and international level; and
Any other functions which may be assigned to it by the Federal Government.
The Commission has 20 members - 2 from each of the provinces, one each from the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), one representative from minorities, three scholars and three ex-officio members (Secretaries Finance, Law and Interior). Advisers and experts can be appointed as required.
The Commission has reviewed a number of laws and suggested amendments. This includes the Pakistan Citizenship Act (1951). It has also examined the hudood laws in detail and after a voted decision in which two members cast their vote in negative, recommended their repeal. (Details are given in Chapter 15, paras 13 -16).
Progress made in Ensuring Enjoyment of the Provisions of Convention.
Women lag in Pakistan in almost every area of national endeavour. Indicators for education, health, employment etc. however show a steady if gradual decrease in the gap between the sexes. The pace of change in some areas is quite slow. A number of measures, summarized below, have been taken to speed this process of change.
Signing the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, Child Pornography on 26 September 2001.
Ratification of ILO core Convention 100 on equal remuneration between men and women on 11 October August 2001.
Ratification of the SAARC Convention on Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Women and Girls for Prostitution in January 2003.
Laws enacted or amended.
The Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951 was amended to give children of Pakistani women married to foreigners the right to Pakistani nationality.
The promulgation of the Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance in November 2002.
Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2004 removing certain lacunae in the law to facilitate prosecution of the so-called “honour killings”.
Abolition of the system of separate electorates.
Announcement and launch of the National Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women on 7 March 2002.
Adoption of the National Policy on Women.
Creation of new bodies.
Establishment of the National Commission on the Status of Women in July 2000.
Declaration of the year 2000 as the year of Human Rights and Human Dignity.
Crisis Centres for Women in Distress have been set up in Islamabad, Vehari, and Sahiwal. Free legal and medical aid and temporary shelter is provided to women victims of violence, including domestic violence, at these centers. The number of centers is being increased to 10. The seven additional centers will be in Karachi, Mianwali, Kohat, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Peshawar and Lahore. These are expected to be operational by 30 June 2005.
Establishment of women police stations in ten major cities of the country. Efforts are being made not only to increase the number of such stations but also to enhance their performance through appropriate training of the staff. Additionally female police officers are being posted in model police stations to deal with female complainants.
The Ministry of Information launched a Human Rights Mass Awareness and Education Campaign April 2000. This campaign ran throughout the year and helped educate people about their rights through the visual and print media.
National Plan for the Advancement and Empowerment of Women.
The plan was prepared as a follow-up to Fourth World Conference on Women through a national participatory process involving the Federal and Provincial Governments, NGOs, women’s organizations and individual experts and lists more than 180 actions with many sub-actions.
The National Plan of Action states that “equality between women and men is a matter of human rights and a condition for social justice and is also a necessary and fundamental pre-requisite for equality, development and peace for the promotion of people centered sustainable development”.
The Plan identifies strategic objectives and specific actions in the twelve priority areas identified by the Beijing Platform for Action plus a thirteenth area “women and girls with disabilities”.
The Ministry of Women Development carried out an audit of the plan in 2002 to gauge progress. Additionally it has established an office of the National Plan Coordinator to speed up and measure progress so that the actions listed in it are completed by 2013 – the plan implementation period.
National Policy for Advancement and Empowerment of Women.
The National Policy for Advancement and Empowerment of Women was announced on March 7, 2002 after a countrywide consultative process. Approximately 2000 stakeholders (government, CSOs, donors, corporate sector, district government leaders and others) were consulted in 67 meetings over an 8-month period (2002). The Policy contains a vision, goal, aims and objectives and lays down guiding principles and gives the key policy measures, specifically addressing the empowerment dimensions in the social, economic and political fields. Cross cutting issues are fully reflected in key policy measures. These measures have been drawn from the National Health Policy, Education Sector Reforms, Labor Policy, Access to Justice Program, Police Reforms, Poverty Alleviation Program etc.
The main challenge Pakistan faces in the promotion and protection of women’s rights is to ensure that international obligations, constitutional provisions, the laws enacted, the implementation machinery and monitoring mechanisms created and various programs launched, actually bring a positive change in lives of Pakistani women. This challenge has not yet been overcome through a multiplicity of factors. The State suffers from a serious impoverishment of resources. There is also a cross sectional lack of awareness and entrenched societal attitudes relating to women and women’s rights. This affects the range and quality of initiatives that can be taken for the promotion and protection of women’s rights. Agents of the State, particularly the officials of the Ministry of Women Development do not get sufficient resources and training to adequately deal with the range and complexity of issues they confront in carrying out their mandate. A similar paucity of resources and sometimes of awareness and adequate training afflicts the judiciary and the law enforcement departments / agencies.
The low level of literacy has an aggravating effect. Women and men are unaware of their rights. Even when men are aware of the rights of women, many are not willing to recognize or grant these.
There is still an improper understanding of the role women play in the national development process. A number of stereotypes still continue to prevail. This sometimes results in constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination not being fully implemented. At times actions, which have no religious sanction, are justified on the basis of tenets of Islam.
As in most other countries domestic affairs are considered a private matter and incidents within the family / domestic problems including violence are usually not reported and many times not dealt with appropriate seriousness by the concerned authorities, if reported.
Female literacy is low in Pakistan and, therefore, affects awareness among women about their rights. In rural areas of the country there is a shortage of trained and qualified female teachers.