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Body launched to end discrimination against women

By Zakir Hassnain

PESHAWAR: Provincial Convention on Elimination of Discrimination against Woman (CEDAW) Committee was launched on Friday to end all forms of discrimination against women in the province and give women due status in the society.

The CEDAW Committee was formed in collaboration with the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

Addressing the audience comprising provincial ministers, women members of the provincial assembly, representatives of civil society organisations, media persons and people from various walks of life, Senior Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour said it was the first initiative in Pakistan. He said though Pakistan signed the Convention in 1996, little progress was made till the initiative taken by the NWFP government.

“Ever since the restoration of democracy in the country, our province has been in the lead in CEDAW implementation that will do away with all sorts of discrimination against women and give them their due place in the society,” said Bilour, who was the chief guest at the launch ceremony.

In this regard, the ANP minister added, the role of Social Welfare Department and UNIFEM was highly commendable. He said Social Welfare Minister Sitara Ayaz’s selfless efforts and dedication to the cause of women empowerment had lead to the establishment of the CEDAW Committee.

The senior minister said the CEDAW Committee would monitor implementation and reporting process regarding discrimination against women and recommend laws, policies, departmental plans and plans to promote gender equality. Bilour said CEDAW would do away with all forms of discrimination against women; implement the status of women; and contribute to social and economic development of the province.

“The committee will help and advice the government to promote gender equality and status of women in the province.

In her address of welcome, Minister for Social Welfare and Women Development Sitara Ayaz said women were being discriminated against everywhere in our country and if CEDAW was implemented in letter and spirit, it would put an end to gender discrimination.

She said the committee would give report on progress of women status in all departments. “We want changes in all departments and would give Pakhtun women respect and their due rights,” said the minister. Huma Chughtai, UNIFEM official, said the province had taken a lead in the formation of a committee on discrimination against women. She said 185 countries had signed the Convention pledging to end discrimination against women in their countries. She said the Convention was adopted by the UN in 1981. Huma said Pakistan ratified the Convention in 1996.

Huma said Pakhtun women did not get the rights they deserved due to tough tribal customs and traditions.

Rubina Khilji, Department of Gender Studies, said the Provincial CEDAW Committee would function in the advisory capacity and monitor consistency in policies on women. She said the minister for social welfare would be the patron of the committee while the secretary social welfare would be its chairman besides focal persons from various departments and representatives from civil society organisations.
Source: Daily Times
Date:9/12/2009

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