March 10, 2020, Islamabad: To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS), Women Parliamentary Caucus, UNDP and UNFPA jointly organized a seminar with parliamentarians, provincial commission on the Status of Women, Social Welfare and Labour Departments of the four provinces, civil society, lawyers, nurses, academia and people belonging to various walks of life at PIPS, Islamabad. The women’s day theme being celebrated globally this year is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”. In this backdrop, the local theme of event focused on Marking Ten Years of Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Work Place Act, 2010. The event stood as post-legislative scrutiny of the Act which thoroughly discussed the progress, gaps and barriers to effective implementation.
Executive Director PIPS Mr. Mohammad Anwar welcomed the participants of seminar and underscored the importance of holding such events leading to an intellectual discourse for resolving legislative issues. He further stressed upon the need of effective post-legislative scrutiny regarding Acts of crucial importance for the society at large. Resident Representative of UNDP Deputy Representative Ms. Aliona Niculita said at the occasion that, “Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010 is an important legislation for safety and protection of women at workplaces. She commended the Government’s efforts to create a safe working environment for women in Pakistan. Ms. Lina Mousa, Representative emphasized that “Gender Based Violence is a grave human rights violation that undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims”. She stressed on joint efforts to eliminate violence, discriminatory and harmful practices against women and girls, by strengthening the capacity of the relevant government institutions to better respond to the needs of victims of abuse and harassment.
MNA Shahida Rehmani presented the Salient Features of the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Work Place Act, 2010. She said that the bill has provided mandatory protection to women who are a part of labour force. Maliha Hussain, representative of Mehergarh, presented a review of ten years performance of the act and underlined its various features. Furthermore, she applauded the role of ombudsperson in handling the complaints and issues regarding harassment. Farida Shaheed, Member National Commission on the Status of Women said that the parliamentarians deserve appreciation on this landmark legislation.
The session was followed by a thorough panel discussion among women parliamentarians of the national and the four provincial assemblies to discuss the situation in different provinces regarding protection of women rights and the role of provincial WPCs. They highlighted that the provinces have made tremendous progress in spreading awareness about women rights and protection against harassment. Parliamentarians discussed various aspects of the bill and the role women MPs are playing to strengthen ombudsperson offices. They emphasized on the need to strengthen committees to address various challenges to women and complains of harassment.
Chief Guest of the occasion, MNA and Secretary Women Parliamentary Caucus of National Parliament, Ms. Munazza Hassan stressed on the inclusivity of the legislative process. She highlighted that we need to accept the flaws of our society and try to deal with the issues of sexual harassment with effective implementation of relevant laws.
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