Let it be a day of celebration for the so-called ‘inferior sex’ for their success in parliament of a country where they have been denied and deprived of their rights, sometimes under the garb of misinterpreted religious obligations and at others by age-old traditions driven by a non-altruistic desire to maintain patriarchy in society at all costs. The Senate, comprising representatives both male and female from across the country, has unanimously passed the National Commission on the Status of Women Bill 2012 into law, a truly landmark achievement in our history. The autonomous commission with full financial and administrative powers will examine policies, programmes and other measures taken by the government for women’s welfare and gender parity, promoting social, economic, political and legal rights of women as enshrined in the constitution and in accordance with international declarations, conventions, treaties and agreements related to women, including the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
With the creation of this institutional forum, now some light can be expected at the end of the tunnel. This commission will monitor the implementation of laws present on the country’s statute books and ensure conformity with international conventions upholding women’s rights. Those who count Pakistan as the third most dangerous country for women after Afghanistan and Congo should hail the historic decision that has actually made Pakistan one of only four countries across the globe that have established such legal and constitutional bodies to look after women’s rights and act against anti-women activities.
There is a need that women be made aware of their equal status and encouraged to walk confidently keeping their heads high. This new Act is expected to empower women by providing them required legal assistance and protection and monitoring implementation of legislation for nourishing and upholding women’s rights in our society, discouraging the forces that will confront its mandate with their power and money at various stages. But it has to continue its struggle, deriving strength from its firm faith in women’s capabilities.