UN Women and WPC of National Assembly to work together for ending child marriages, gender disparity

Date: Friday, May 17, 2019

[Press Release]

Logos: National Assembly’s Women Parliamentary Caucus, UN Women

Islamabad, Pakistan — UN Women and Women Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) of the National Assembly of Pakistan on Thursday joined hands to work together for advancing the women’s empowerment and gender equality agenda, which is central to Pakistan’s efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Agreeing that the issue of child marriage needs a strong focus and efforts at all levels, both the entities stressed the most urgent need for consolidated and concerted action to curb child marriages from all parts of Pakistan through advocacy, awareness-raising and legislative reforms.

WPC Secretary Munazzah Hassan and UN Women Country Rep Jamshed Kazi exchange documents after signing MoU at National Assembly. Photo: UN Women/Habib Asgher
WPC Secretary Munazzah Hassan and UN Women Country Rep Jamshed Kazi exchange documents after signing MoU at National Assembly. Photo: UN Women/Habib Asgher

UN Women and WPC-NA were meeting at the National Assembly where Country Representative UN Women Pakistan Jamshed Kazi and MNA and Secretary WPC Munazza Hassan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to advance women’s empowerment and gender equality across Pakistan.

The WPC is a cross-party forum of women parliamentarians who come together to work on an agreed agenda for women’s socio-economic empowerment and political participation in the country. UN Women is the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Under the partnership, WPC will support the mandate of UN Women to attain broad-based consensus amongst all women parliamentarians for the socio-economic and political development of Pakistani women, and to enable women parliamentarians to work beyond and above party lines for advancing the women empowerment and gender equality agenda.

Secretary WPC Munazza Hassan said, “Child marriages issue lies at the core of efforts WPC has been doing to improve condition of women and girls. We will contact each parliamentarian, male and female, to listen to their concerns around child marriages bill and address them.”

“We want to get it passed unanimously,” she stressed. To scaleup efforts for pro women legislation at all levels, Hassan informed that she will hold a meeting with Speaker Provincial Assembly of Punjab to urge them for establishing the Women Parliamentary Caucus of Punjab Assembly at earliest. Hassan appreciated UN Women for their commitment to help the government achieve targets of gender equality and SDGs. Country Representative UN Women Jamshed Kazi said, “With the initiation of this important partnership today, UN Women and WPC aim to collaborate for strengthening women’s political participation and leadership through strategic planning, research and coordination; and media outreach.”

“Timing of this signing is very important as the bill against child marriages is now a national agenda. We must act now to make sure the future of our girls and women is safe and that they have right to say no before reaching certain age,” he underlined.

“We will closely work on issues pertaining to gender integration in laws and policies with a focus on women’s empowerment and reducing discrimination and violence against women and girls. All matters that are being discussed in the Parliament should be first looked through the gender lens. Enhancing parliamentary skills and contributions of women parliamentarians in national and provincial assemblies will lie at the core of our work.”

Today with this MoU signing, UN Women reaffirms its commitment to the Government of Pakistan for supporting the implementation of its long-term initiatives to safeguard women’s rights in the country, Jamshed remarked.

UN Women will specifically support WPC in the development and implementation of a Strategic Plan, organizing learning and networking initiatives, commemorating national and international occasions with the objective to raise awareness on women’s issues and rights, and holding dialogues with male parliamentarians and other stakeholders on issues related to gender equality, including advocating for pro-women legislations.

Others present at the signing ceremony included women members of the parliament and WPC, and UN Women Pakistan officials including Aisha Mukhtar, Deputy Country Representative, Saman Ahsan, Head of Ending Violence Against Women and Girls, Human Rights and Governance Portfolio, and Habib Asgher, Head of Communications.