10th June 2020, Peshawar – Women are generally underrepresented in the legal profession in Pakistan. While urban Pakistan witnesses women practicing law and some are also in positions of power, the situation is far from close in most regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa especially the Merged Areas. UNDP is striving to increase women representation in the legal profession in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by encouraging law students and graduates to pursue the legal profession through provision of scholarships to study law. The idea is to encourage and facilitate women students from Merged Areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to complete their education and subsequently facilitate them to pursue a career in law and eventually increase women representation in the legal profession in the province particularly Merged Areas.
In an effort to do so, a scholarship and stipend distribution ceremony was held at the Area Study Centre at University of Peshawar on 8th and 9th June 2020 During the ceremony, thirty-six LLB and LLM women students were awarded scholarships. These students from erstwhile FATA are currently studying law at University of Peshawar, University of Malakand University of Swat, Abdul Wali Khan University, Gomel University, Islamia College University and Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University Peshawar. Stipends were also awarded to nine women law graduates currently pursuing six-month apprenticeships with senior lawyers across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
As fresh law graduates begin to carve out their places in professional employment, these stipends will enable them to complete their apprenticeships, get license to practice law, and will encourage them join the legal profession.
Mr. Shabir Ahmad Khan, Director Area Study Centre, University of Peshawar distributed the cheques and thanked UNDP, SRSP, KP Bar Council and Law Schools and Universities representatives.
‘’I am thankful to UNDP, USAID and Peshawar University who have provided me this opportunity. I will request my sisters from erstwhile FATA to study law and join the profession as an advocate”, said a student currently enrolled at Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan.
Funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), this activity is a part of UNDP Amn-o-Insaf Programme which is being jointly implemented with the Area Study Centre, University of Peshawar. Till now, the programme has enabled over one hundred and fifty women law students and graduates in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to pursue the legal profession through educational scholarships and professional stipends.
UNDP has also networked with women lawyers in KP under the banner of KP Women Lawyers Forum to develop the network charter and organized national conference of the forum that was attended by over 120 female lawyers from KP.
These efforts will not only encourage more women representation in the legal field but will also empower them to take on prominent and stronger roles as leaders in the coming years.
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