Strengthening institutions key to women rights, says President Alvi at National Seminar on Protection of Women Against Harassment

Date: Friday, September 24, 2021

[Press release]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

President of Pakistan Arif Alvi (centre, in blue) and Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar attend National Seminar on Protection of Women against Harassment along with other dignitaries. Photo: UN Women/Muhammad Adil
President of Pakistan Arif Alvi and Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar attend National Seminar on Protection of Women against Harassment along with other dignitaries. Photo: UN Women/Muhammad Adil

Lahore, Pakistan — President of Pakistan Arif Alvi lauded the government’s efforts of activating institutions to protect women against harassment and to empower them by rights of ownership and possession of properties.

“Society as a whole should standup and protect women against harassment,” the president told a national seminar on protection of women against harassment, adding it is our religious duty. “Harassment cannot end only with legislation but with collective effort of society”

He also said that we have a similar duty to respect women’s full property rights, which unfortunately is not protected in some parts of the country. He nevertheless expressed his satisfaction over the establishment and working of the offices of ombudspersons for protection of women and emphasized that society has a role to play for protection of women against harassment.

The mega seminar attended by parliamentarians, members of civil society, academia, youth and private sector entities was organized by UN Women Pakistan in collaboration with Office of the Ombudsperson of Punjab, and the Bargad Organization for Youth Development.

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar said that the government is committed to safeguarding rights of women and giving them the socio-economic status that they deserve. In this connection, he said that the ombudsperson offices are essential in providing speedy justice and we will continue working to further strengthen effective implementation of the passed laws.

The panelists of the seminar included Kashmala Tariq, federal ombudsperson; Sabira Islam, ombudsperson of Balochistan; Muhammad Kamran Khan, chief operating officer of the Punjab Safe Cities Authority; Senator Waleed Iqbal and Provincial Assembly Members Uzma Kardar, Bushra Butt, Shawana Bashir and Aysha Iqbal.

Punjab Ombudsperson Nabila Hakim Ali Khan briefed the participants about the work of her office in creating an enabling environment and protecting women in Punjab with the authority to suspend officers up to Grade-21 on harassment charges. She added that Office of the Ombudsperson is striving for the establishment of Inquiry Committees at all levels and in all types of workplaces in Punjab. She urged citizens and stakeholders to access this progressive and legally strong office for grievances of women over harassment and property rights where cases are solved within 60 days.

Speaking at the seminar, UN Women Country Representative Sharmeela Rassool said that "The Gender Equality and Women Empowerment policy developed with technical support of UN Women is one of the prominent achievements, yet we need to work together along with all our partners for its effective implementation". Rassool further added that gender equality cannot be achieved until women are given equal opportunities to develop and advance professionally, for which harassment-free workplaces are critical.

Two interactive sessions were held, the first with government stakeholders and civil society organizations, and the second with parliamentarians, to recommend ways to increase ownership of federal and provincial governments and create synergy across stakeholders for effective implementation of the existing law ombudsperson law for women empowerment. The government officials and the ombudspersons shared their learning on practical issues around the implementation of the law. The panelists also agreed on a roadmap for effective coordination and oversight of the law for anti-harassment measures and the protection of women rights of ownership and possession of properties.

For media inquiries:

Hassan Ali Abbasi,
Communications Assistant, UN Women Pakistan
E: Hassan.abbasi@unwomen.org