President Dr Arif Alvi Thursday said that ongoing initiatives for women empowerment and financial inclusion through necessary legislation and structural changes would open up new avenues for the massive economic development of the country.
The president, addressing the launching ceremony of the Insaaf Watch portal, said Pakistan stood at a critical point with its youth bulge becoming a focus of the world’s attention.
Developed by the Ministry of Law and Justice in collaboration with the British High Commission and Group Development Pakistan, the Insaaf Watch is a digital portal aimed at facilitating women’s access to the relevant laws besides giving them awareness of their rights.
The president said the awareness to the women on their rights was a challenge; however the frequent messaging through media and pulpit could be helpful as had been during the COVID pandemic.
The president also advised the law ministry to display posters on women’s rights legislation in mosques, introduce the summary as well as the audio description of the laws on the portal, besides ensuring their availability in both English and Urdu languages.
He said the ratio of cases being registered was far lesser than the actual situation of women’s rights violation which necessitated massive awareness among the women.
He said women’s rights should not be protected merely for fulfillment of international laws rather it should be done as a country’s needs as well as an obligation under Islam which had granted inheritance rights to women some 1400 years ago.
He said unfortunately a huge ratio of women was deprived of their inherited properties and that the government had made necessary legislation to protect their rights and empowered Ombudsman’s office for the purpose.
The president emphasized the true implementation of the laws to do away with the usurpation of women’s properties as well as for their protection against harassment. Besides providing them their inheritance rights, the women should also be encouraged to become business partners and cited the life of Hazrat Khadija (R.A.) who had been a successful businesswoman.
He said prior to the happening of the anti-women crime, it was society’s responsibility to ensure their safety and exemplified the incident of Minar-e-Pakistan where a woman was harassed and people filmed the scene instead of stopping it.
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He said through the measures like the disbursement of around Rs 500 billion cash assistance through women under Ehsaas Program, equal education scholarships, stipends for school-going girls would lead towards their financial empowerment.
Similarly, he said it was equally essential to give special focus on women’s health as malnutrition, neo-natal deaths, frequent pregnancies and maternal mortality would impede the women from their empowerment and their active participation in the national development.
Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Farogh Nasim said after necessary legislation and structural changes, the government was in the implementation phase.
He thanked the British High Commission and European Union and other partners for supporting the development of the portal. However, he said while implementing the laws, it was essential for the women to know about their rights.
He said the religious teachings, constitution and international laws were kept in view while making the legislation and in total, over 700 legal amendments have been made.
Parliamentary Secretary on Law and Justice Maleeka Bukhari the portal contained laws related to women which would create awareness of the available remedies.
She said the government passed anti-rape law, Women Property Rights Act and also launched a campaign against honor killing.
She said besides women, the portal is also important for the legal practitioner, media and academia.
Acting Deputy British High Commissioner also addressed the ceremony and lauded President Alvi for his continuous efforts for the protection of women rights.
She said stigma and shame still existed around the violence against women and reiterated the UK government’s support to Pakistan in doing away with the women-specific crimes.