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Provincial Commission on Status of Women (PCSW) A delayed legal entity to support women in Sindh

Roundtable was participated by government and civil society representatives such as Women Development Department, Social Welfare Department, Health, Police, Ministry of Human Rights Government of Sindh, Members of Provincial Assembly Sindh, Media and Academia

Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO), rights based civil society organization under the project tilled asPolicy Advocacy and Research to Strengthen Implementation of Pro-Women Legislation and GBV Response Services in Sindh” supported by Australian Government conducted roundtable discussion on 17th of August 2017, participated by civil society and government related stakeholders in local hotel Karachi. The roundtable aimed at steering up the process of establishment of the support structures based on pro women legislation of government of Sindh. The pro women structures such as “Provincial Commission on Status of Women”, under Sindh Commission on the Status of Women Act 2015, Provincial and District level “Monitoring Committees” under The Sindh Early Child Marriages Restraint Act 2014, and “Provincial and District level “Domestic Violence Commissions” under The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2013, were to be established soon after the enactment of the pro-women laws that yet await to be notified to minimize the sufferings of women in Sindh Province.

The roundtable was participated by government and civil society representatives such as Women Development Department, Social Welfare Department, Health, Police, Ministry of Human Rights Government of Sindh, Members of Provincial Assembly Sindh, Civil Society Organizations, Media and Academia calling for government attention to prioritize the issues of women suffering at the lack of the implementation of pro women laws.

Though women exist in numbers nearly equal to that of men but have been living in miserable condition and have been suffering from unrelenting issues. Cultural differences, gender discrimination, religious differences, misunderstanding or misconception of teachings of Islam, economic differences, and so forth have substantially attributed to the deplorable condition of women in Sindh. Women suffer from the customs by sharing a very low independence in all respects of life and are exposed to a great deal of problems and social issues such as gender segregation, low self-esteem, no decision-making power, and lack of freedom of choice or expression. Most women, from the very beginning, accept their low power and lack of rights as a part of their life and admit to living with it due to being unaware of their actual rights. Sindh is a place where statistics for maternal mortality, violence against women, acid throwing and other related crimes are very high. On the other end of the spectrum, literacy rate, labor force participation, and sex ratio are too low.            

The Sindh Commission on the Status of Women Bill 2015 was passed by the Provincial Assembly of Sindh on 6th April 2015 and assented by the Governor of Sindh on 12th May 2015 and published as an Act of the Legislature of Sindh. As per this Act, Government of Sindh shall constitute a Commission to be known as the Sindh Provincial Commission on the Status of Women (SPCSW), to exercise the powers conferred upon, and to perform the functions assigned to it. The Act aims for promotion of social, economic, political and legal rights of women as provided in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973, and international declarations, conventions, treaties and agreements relating to women, including Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The Commission consisting of twenty-one members including Chairperson to be appointed within ninety (90) days of the Act, has not yet seen the light of the day even after two years, since bill was passed. Members of Provincial Steering Forum (PSF) demanded for notification of provincial level autonomous pro women commission to institutionalize the support mechanism for vulnerable segment of Society.  

The Commission is intended by law as well coordinated forum of the twenty one (21) members included by women representative of the minority community, seven members representing each division, seven members in gender development, law, social sector and academia, five ex-officio members representing provincial departments of Women, Law, Finance, Home and Social Welfare, not below BPS-19 and a secretary of the Commission. The commission is intended to be based at Karachi having the perpetual succession and a common seal with powers. A special committee consisting of Minister WDD, Convener Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (WPC), Member (WPC), Chairperson Sindh Human Rights Commission, Member Sindh Human Rights Commission, Secretary Law and Secretary Women Development Department was constituted for recommendations of chairperson and membership of the Commission. At the moment, special committee has invited through public notice applications, shortlisted listed candidates for chairperson and interviewed potential candidates for chairperson yet to be announced and appointed by Parliamentary Committee from the two persons recommended and forwarded by chief minister of Sindh and leader of the opposition. 

The law underlines powers and functions of the Commission to examine the policy, programs and other measures taken or to be taken by the government for gender equality, women’s empowerment, political participation, representation, assess, implementation and make suitable recommendations to the concerned authorities. The Commission intends to review all provincial laws, rules and regulations to the legitimate interest and rights of women to eliminate discrimination, safeguard and promote the interest of women and achieve gender equality before law in accordance with the Constitution and obligations under international covenants and commitments. The Commission shall maintain a database relating to women and gender issues to provide knowledge and awareness for Government policy and strategic action for women empowerment. The Commission shall develop and maintain interaction and dialogue with non-governmental organizations, experts and individuals in Society. The Commission shall mobilize grants from domestic sources and international sources in order to meet any of its obligations. The Commission shall inspect any jail, sub-jail or other places of custody where women and girls are kept and to make appropriate recommendations to the concerned authorities. The Commission shall consider, approve and monitor implementation of the Strategic Plan and the Annual Budget. 

The event was actively attended by women members of provincial assembly of Sindh, civil society members from various rights based organizations, legal experts, free legal aid providers and media. The Honorable MPAs of Sindh Assembly hailing from PPP, MQM, PML-N and PML-F unanimously provided inputs on the matter. Nailla Muneer (MPA, Member Parliamentary Committee MQM), Naheed Begum (MPA, Member Parliamentary Committee MQM), Heer Soho (MPA, Member Parliamentary Committee MQM), Soorath Thebo (MPA, Member Parliamentary Committee PML-N), Ghazala Siyal (MPA, Member Parliamentary Committee PPP), Kulsoom Chandio MPA Member Parliamentary Committee PPP, Nusrat Saher Abbasi MPA PML-F committed to establish pro women structures to safeguard women being denied fundamental human rights in Sindh Province.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1484290/mpas-decry-delay-formation-commission-status-women/

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/224174-Two-years-on-government-yet-to-appoint-committee-chairperson-members

 

 

 

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