The Punjab Gender Parity Report was launched on Monday by the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women. It is part of efforts to monitor implementation of government policies relating to women rights, protection and equal opportunities.
The report has been compiled by the commission and the Urban Unit after months of data collection and consulting technical working groups. A documentary about challenges facing Pakistani women was also screened at the launch.
Minister for Women Development Hameeda Waheedud Din said that the CM would announce more initiatives for women empowerment on Tuesday (today) as part of Women’s Day celebrations. She said that there was a need to monitor the pace and implementation of legislation introduced to protect women’s rights.
Minister for Population Welfare Zakia Shahnawaz said that those criticising legislation about women should know that the government was committed towards ensuring equal opportunities for all. She urged women to become ‘ambassadors of hope’.
Punjab Commission on the Status of Women Chairperson Fauzia Viqar said that the government was committed to ensuring women empowerment. Speaking about the purpose of the report, she said it was necessary to monitor what had transpired following the measures taken by the government. “What really has the government achieved since 2012 when it announced the women empowerment package? This question will be answered now,” she said. Viqar said the commission hoped to make the exercise a regular Women’s Day feature.
Viqar said that the report indicated a growing trend in violence against women. “A 20 per cent increase has been recorded over the past three years in violence against women. There were 173 honour killings during the last year alone. However, the incidence of acid attacks dropped in 2015,” she said.
She expressed concern at the finding that women’s participation in local government elections for general seats had been less than 0.5 per cent. The report revealed that there was a direct proportionality between literacy levels and development indexes. It stated that regional disparity was visible in various areas of the province in terms of gender parity.
“A low number of women police officers is also a cause of concern. During the local government elections, a lack of policewomen at women polling stations had resulted in a lot of mismanagement,” she said.
Urban Unit CEO Dr Nasir Javed said that there was a need for figures. “Governance is all about making decisions based on quality information. The Punjab Gender Management Information System has been launched to periodically review such data. The online database will provide people data about the six themes of governance: education, health, legal rights, economic opportunities and violence against women. Gender-segregated data is also available on the database for several indicators for all 36 districts,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2016.