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NCSW Organized National Consultation on Gender Equality Policy Post 18thAmendment

Mar 29, 2011

The National Commission on the Status of Women, together with Oxfam UK and UKaid organized a national consultation on Gender Equality Policy in the Provinces; Women’s Rights post 18th Amendment in Islamabad on 29th March 2011.

The idea behind this meeting was derived from a consultation process initiated by the NCSW over the past year. This process resulted in a study that looked at discriminatory and flawed policies in the Pakistani context. The study is called A New Policy Framework for Women’s Equal Rights. The purpose of the National Consultation was to share the study findings and provide all the provincial representatives with policy guidelines. It is hoped that as a first step, such information on gender equality policies would equip the provinces with information and allow them to develop their own province-specific ones in the light of the 18th amendment and devolution.

The Secretary Interprovincial Coordination Committee on 18th Amendment, Mr. Zahid on behalf of Mr Raza Rabbani Chairman Inter Provincial Coordination and Minister for Human Rights, gave an overview of the structure and mechanisms of the amendment. He gave a comprehensive insight into the constitutional fundamental rights that would remain with the Federal legislative list while others will be devolved. He also spoke about the various phases of devolution and explained that while women’s ministry has not been enlisted in the first phase of devolution but eventually it will be decided. He also made it clear that international commitments will go through planning and development division and ministry of foreign affairs.

Anis Haroon, Chairperson of NCSW introduced the scope of the study and this was followed by a presentation on the thematic concerns which included from security of life, labour, health and violence as well as democratization and Gender Response Budgets by author of the study, Afiya Zia.

The consultation was well represented by provincial ministers, secretaries, NCSW members, MoWD and provincial commission of KPK. Anis Haroon raised the concern of clarifying the fate of women legislation that hangs in limbo unless the responsibility of policy and law making is confirmed in the post 18th amendment period. She particularly mentioned Domestic Violence Bill, which lapsed after the senate did not take it up within given time and its fate is still unknown. She urged the national as well as provincial legislators to expedite the process of legislation and pass all the pending bills. Ms.Anis Haroon outlined the objectives of the consultation and expressed hope that the daylong consultation will culminate in a concrete action plan which will further be pursued by NCSW at the provincial levels. It was clarified by the secretary inter provincial coordination division that all new legislation specific to women’s issues will fall within the purview of the provincial governments.

This is a valuable contribution by the NCSW because it is a local document and drafted in the light of Pakistan’s specific gendered issues and policy requirements. Provincial working groups made a plan of action and this is just the beginning as NCSW will now carry these consultations at provincial levels.

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