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Women Rights Activists Support Devolution of Women Development Ministry

Publishing Date: April 12th 2011

PRESS RELEASE

LAHORE: 12th April, 2011: The gender experts, women rights activists from different parts of the country have jointly supported the devolution of the Ministry of Women Development in the light of the 18th constitutional Amendment. 

Over 20 representatives of various women organizations, at a meeting organized under the banner of Pakistan chapter of World March of Women (WMW) here , Tuesday, while discussing this issue women rights activists said when all the social sectors in the Government are being devolved to the provinces, the portfolio of women should not stay in Islamabad. All the participating women organizations fully support the provinces taking charge of women’s agenda and hope that they would incorporate their concerns into project implementation as well as policy and legislative level.

Saleha Athar , member international council of World March of Women talking on the occasion said that donors and the Government itself has spend a large amount of money over the years on Gender mainstreaming. Now that they have an opportunity to let all Ministries incorporate women’s issues and the provinces take charge, they should be happy about it.

Bushra Khaliq, a women’s rights activist  and  national coordinator of World March of Women (WMW) said it is strange to be divided about whether the Ministry should go to the provinces or not. That is not for us to decide now. The decision has been taken. We are only speaking out because there were statements like; devolving this Ministry was anti women action. We as gender experts would like to say that we disagree with that point of view and strongly feel that this Ministry should be devolved. It is the provinces who need to incorporate women’s issues into their work.”

Aqsa Khan from Women Organization for Rights and Development (WORD), Islamabad said that civil society is already in the provinces and is engaging with them.” She emphasized that we look forward to working with the Provinces directly. She clarified that civil society is everywhere in the country. Many of the organizations that are not in Islamabad or other big cities do not get much attention. This would be a good opportunity to have them get the exposure. 

Shaista Bokhari of Women Rights Association (WRA), Multan said, it is time to be enthusiastic and help each other out rather than take the devolution as a punishment. She said Ministries and institutions are showing their performance as if that will save them. They have to come out of the denial and understand that it has already happened and all they should focus on is how to make it efficient and effective.”

Representatives of women organizations from Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Islamabad including World March of Women (Pakistan chapter), AASHA, Mehergarh, Sheharsaz, War Against Rape, (WAR) Women Organizations for Rights and Development (WORD), Women Rights Association (WRA), WWHL, Anjumn Mazareen Punjab (AMP), Labor Quami Movement (LQM), and many others agreed on the stance that the devolution under 18th amendment is a welcomed act and rather than resisting and campaigning to stop the process,  institutions should make use of the one year transition and prepare for the new responsibilities.

The above mentioned organizations and gender experts who supported the stance included, Sara Sohail, Mehvish, Sidra Humayun, Rukhsana Naz from Lahore, Almas Shakoor, Islamabad, Shamim Qayyum, Faisalbad, Badarunisa, Okara in a joint statement stated; 

We believe that mainstreaming gender within the devolution framework as well as setting up women’s specific safeguard at the provincial level is the only way forward and we fully support this process.  As firm believers of democracy we have a faith that people via provinces have the capacity and commitment to work for the benefits for all citizens including women. The Constitution of Pakistan provides  the basic framework within which all provinces can work for the rights of women. While we appreciate the efforts made over decades by the Ministry Of Women Development (MOWD), it is important not to overstate its contribution to promote women’s rights.  Women rights activists had been publicly expressing their frustration over the inability of the MODW to play its role as a watch dog ministry to oversee and ensure the integration of gender perspectives and concerns in the planning and the working of other sectoral ministries.  Lack of in-house gender capacity remained as a key barrier for MOWD to play its role effectively. We strongly support the devolution of Ministry for Women’s Development within the context of post-18th amendment whereby most of the ministries are being devolved, it is vitally important that the mainstreaming of gender across ministries must be made the responsibility of the provinces”.

Released by

Bushra Khaliq
National Coordinator
World March of Women (WMW)-Pakistan
Ph: +92 321 940 2316
Email: bushra.khaliq@yahoo.com

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