International Women’s Day

Women lawmakers boldly reaffirm their commitment towards a Planet 50:50 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA

Date: 08 March 2017

Author: Faria Salman

Peshawar, Pakistan — International Women’s Day is a day Pakistan embraces with great enthusiasm where this enthusiasm acknowledges the important role reserved for women within the process towards gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Dr. Mehar Taj Roghani (Deputy Speaker of the Provincial Assembly) congratulates women and male lawmakers for leading the gender equality agenda in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Photo: UN Women/Faria Salman

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, UN Women in collaboration with the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) celebrated the achievements of local women and renewed pledges, at an event held on 8 March 2017 in the Chief Ministers residence in Peshawar.

In welcoming guests, Ms. Meraj Humayun Khan (Chairperson of the WPC and Member of Provincial Assembly) spoke of the long struggle started in 1909 in New York by women for recognition, acceptance and acknowledgment that continues till this day all over the world. She added: "Countries like ours are still battling with provision of essentials like clean drinking water and nutrient rich food to its population. Time is running out! We must revisit our development plan and implementation strategies to create opportunities for women to join in the whole process of development - and there is no shortage of talent in the province.”

The Honorable Dr. Mehar Taj Roghani (Deputy Speaker of the Provincial Assembly) in her address congratulated Chairpersons of the Provinces WPC and Provincial Commission on the Status of Women for leading the gender equality agenda which is making strides towards enhancing and recognizing rights for all women. Dr. Roghani announced her personal commitment to advocate for a Standing Committee for Women within the Provincial Assembly and revision of the 1998 of Rules of Business through a gender lens, and its endorsement. Speaking on provincial laws, Dr. Mehar informed the Domestic Violence Bill is in the final stages of review and a bill on acid crime is nearing completion by the women machineries and will be tabled soon. Speaking of opportunities available for women, she added “a woman can do anything provided chances are given to them, and we are going to give them more spaces to excel in various roles.”

Rafia Qaseem Baig (Pakistan’s first female to join the Bomb Disposal Unit) receives the ‘2017 WPC Awards’. Photo: UN Women/Faria Salman

On the occasion, Mr. Jamshed Kazi (Country Representative, UN Women Pakistan) speaking of the battles faced by women said “KP and FATA have many strong versatile women and girls, who fight everyday battles to break taboos and stigmatized social roles, with many being recognized and acknowledged, the majority remain ‘unsung heroes.’ Recognition of more and more local women and girls at home, and abroad are wins for Pakistan, and suggests gender stereotypes are beginning to lose their potency.” Mr Kazi called for men and boys to recognize that gender equality is not just a woman’s issue, “we must take a stand and speak out against injustices and crimes that affect women and girls. I know that the KP Provincial Assembly has been working on a Bill to combat Domestic Violence and I sincerely hope that today provides renewed impetus to enact this law, which is in line with Pakistan’s international commitments.”

Ms. Stefanie Burri (Head of Cooperation, SDC) in praising the women and men of Pakistan said “I have had the privilege of meeting brilliant, inspirational women leading the struggle for equal gender rights. These are women who lead by example by shining bright in the fields of science, politics, sports, and so many more. At the same time, they have the support of Pakistani men - support that must grow in numbers and intensity.”

Rukhshanda Naz (activist for human rights) receives the ‘2017 WPC Awards’. Photo: UN Women/Faria Salman

During the proceedings, the ‘2017 WPC Awards’ were distributed acknowledging women ‘change-makers’ from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the areas of performing arts, women of courage, human rights, literature and politics. Women being honored included: Yasmin Jaferi (performing arts, posthumous), Rafia Qaseem Baig (Pakistan’s first female to join the Bomb Disposal Unit), Rukhshanda Naz (human rights), Zatoon Bano (Pashto and Urdu literature) and Begum Naseem Wali Khan (female once leader of a political party from 1970’s).

UN Women is thankful for the generous support of SDC to strengthen the WPC’s capacity to guide and assist legislators, policy-makers and other key partners to analyze and interpret legislation (new and review of existing laws) through a gender lens.

Photo Gallery

Women lawmakers boldly reaffirm their commitment towards a Planet 50:50 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA
Photo: UN Women/Faria Salman

For more information contact:

Faria Salman
Strategic Management and Partnerships Officer & Head of Communications for UN Women Pakistan
Email: faria.salman@unwomen.org