KARACHI: The Sindh Commission on the Status of Women (SCSW) in collaboration with Shirkat Gah-Women’s Resource Centre held the launch of Rising to the Challenges: Gender-Responsive Policy Options for Covid-19 & Other Emergencies, a policy document focusing on various impacts of Covid-19 on women here on Thursday.
According to the document, in a crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic, women face considerable threats to their economic, physical, legal and social security.
The lack of emergency services especially exacerbates issues of access and relief for women and girls across the following four areas: reproductive health, gender-based violence, education and economic resilience, the document points out.
The document has been brought together through extensive input and feedback from experts in the field.
It recommends immediate legislative action such as expanding the definition of essential services to include all gender-based violence (GBV) response services and mechanisms to safeguard against any disruption during any emergency or disaster situations, strengthening services and ensuring access for GBV survivors during all emergencies, including Covid-19.
The policy also calls for expediting the implementation of the Sindh Reproductive Healthcare Rights Act 2019.
Need stressed to implement laws and prevent gender-based violence
The launch was also attended by parliamentarians, members of civil society, members of labor unions and many stakeholders.
Nuzhat Shirin, chairperson of the SCSW, welcomed the participants and highlighted the policy document, explaining immediate actions the SCSW took during Covid-19 pandemic.
Farida Shaheed, executive director, Shirkat Gah, presented the policy document’s key takeaways and urged present members of the Sindh government to take the policy up and ensure its timely implementation.
Aliya Shahid, secretary, Women Development Department (WDD), commended the policy document and stated that under the WDD platform, Sindh government carried out most pro-women legislation.
Dr Talib Lashari, a senior consultant, emphasized the rights of women and said that women’s rights could not be ensured until they invest in human capital and until poverty and education were focused on.
Virjee Kohli, special assistant, Sindh Human Rights Department, said that there was a need to implement laws and prevent gender-based violence incidents that affected young girls and women.
Khawar Mumtaz, former chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women, spoke on the policy document and stated that the interrelationships of different issues faced by women had been taken into account.
Dr Yasmin Qazi, senior technical adviser to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, highlighted the importance of reproductive rights, and the need for gender sensitivity among men.
Barrister Murtaza Wahab, Adviser to Chief Minister of Sindh on Law and Environment, gave the closing remarks and complimented the SCSW and SG for the launch of the policy document. “We have too many challenges as a country and we need to rise to these challenges,” he said.
Barrister Wahab highlighted that there was a need for implementation and delivery of laws especially towards gender-based violence cases.