By Asim Yasin
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday directed the Ministry of Women Development to expedite the draft bills for legislation on domestic violence against women and children and women’s legal ownership of property and assets, which are being prepared by the ministry.
The prime minister gave these directions during his visit to the Ministry of Women Development to review the targets and achievements of the ministry. It may be mentioned here that Gilani is the first prime minister to visit the Ministry of Women Development since Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in 1993.
The draft bills for legislation on domestic violence against women and children and women’s legal ownership of property and assets will be presented to the cabinet before the International Women’s Day on March 8.
The ministry would also hold a convention to mark the occasion at a later date. During his visit to the ministry, Prime Minister Gilani said the ministry should play a proactive role in women empowerment and gender equality in the country and gave directions for ensuring protection of women’s rights in all walks of life.
He also directed the ministry to make arrangements for observing the Pakistan Women’s Rights Day in a befitting manner on February 12. He said a steering committee of various ministries should be formed in order to facilitate the working of the Women Development Ministry and improve coordination with other ministries to avoid overlapping of women-related issues.
The prime minister said ban on the federal government recruitments had been lifted to facilitate each ministry to hire its required staff to ensure good governance. He said it was the responsibility of each ministry to ensure that such appointments were made purely on merit keeping in view the quotas earmarked for various regions, minorities, disabled persons as well as women.
Adviser to the PM on Social Sector Shahnaz Wazir Ali briefed the prime minister on various initiatives for women development, particularly providing employment opportunities, observing jobs quota reserved for women, checking women harassment at work places and to protect them from domestic violence.
She informed the premier that 25 Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Centres had been established around the country, including 12 in the Punjab, four each in Sindh and the NWFP, three in Balochistan and one in the AJK, while 39 more were under way.
The prime minister said these Centres should become permanent facilities with public-private partnership on all women-related issues and should also involve provincial and local governments.
He was apprised that the Protection against Harassment at the Workplace Bill, 2009 and Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2009 had already been approved by the cabinet. The prime minister was informed that the Ministry of Women Development was getting technical assistance from international partners, including GTZ, UNFPA and UNIFEM, for its various women empowerment projects.
In his presentation, the secretary Ministry of Women Development briefed the prime minister on the overall working of the ministry, including the National Commission on the Status of Women, which is a statutory body established in 2000, and various projects working under the ministry like Gender Reform Action Plan.
Source: The News