UNITED NATIONS – Pakistan is determined to work towards achieving the targets set for gender equality and empowerment of women by the Sustainable Development Goals, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi has said.
In her opening remarks at a side event organised by the Pakistan Mission to the UN during the 60th session of the Commission for the Status of Women, she said that Pakistan believes that there was an urgent need at this critical juncture to look back, see how far we have come, and how best to proceed from here with determination to fully achieve targets set by Goal 5 of the SDGs.
The Pakistani envoy said that violence against women was a key concern in the overall agenda of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“Physical and sexual violence has been described as the most shameful of all human rights violations and one of the most intractable to eliminate fully,” she asserted. “And we agree,” she added.
The panelists at the event titled “Strategies to eliminate violence against women’ included Ms Raheela Durrani, Speaker of the Balochistan Assembly, Ms Aman Imam, Secretary of the Women Development, Punjab and Ms Rabeea Hadi, Director of the Aurat Foundation.
Ms Durrani, in her address highlighted the steps taken in Balochitan for protection and social and economic empowerment of women. She listed a number of legislative and administrative measures taken by the provincial government in this regard. While admitting that there were still challenges to be addressed specially with regard to violence and discrimination against women, she said “The winds are changing course.”
Speaking as a panelist, the representative of the Aurat Foundation, while appreciating pro-women legislation in Pakistan, especially in Punjab, said that laws on honour killing “need improvement”.
She said that the Foundation has been demanding more women’s voices and participation in decision making at all levels of governance.
Punjab’s Secretary for Women Development highlighted a number of pro-women legislation adopted by the province, specially the recently passed bill to criminalise violence against women.
Ms Imam said that policy formulation was just one step and that the government was taking measures to add depth to these laws by enhancing skills, awareness campaigns for legal and social rights and developing women’s leadership at various levels of governance.
In the interactive dialogue that followed, Kazakhstan’s Ambassador Mukhtar Tileuberdi appreciated the “indisputable achievements” of Pakistan and said, “We can learn a lot from the Pakistan experience.”
The participants in the dialogue generally appreciated Pakistan’s achievements and pointed out areas where further focus was required, particularly in implementation of existing laws.
In her concluding remarks, Ambassador Lodhi highlighted the critical role of the media in changing social attitudes along with education. She said that while “we have come a long way”, there were still a number of challenges to overcome.
The event was largely attended by diplomats, civil society organisations and members of delegation at the UN attending CSW session.