ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani directed Ministry of Women Development to play a proactive role in women empowerment and gender equality in the country. The Prime Minister said this during his visit to the Ministry of Women Development to review the targets and achievements of the Ministry on Tuesday. It may be mentioned that Yousuf Raza Gilani is the first Prime Minister to visit the Ministry of Women Development since Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto 1993.
The Prime Minister directed the Ministry to ensure protection of women’s rights in all walks of life and to expedite draft bills for legislation on Domestic Violence against Women and Children and Women’s legal ownership of property and assets which are being prepared by the Ministry.
These bills will be presented to the Cabinet before the International Women’s Day on the 8th of March. The Ministry would also hold a Convention to mark the occasion at a later date. The Prime Minister also directed the Ministry to make arrangements for observing the Pakistan Women’s Rights Day in a befitting manner on 12th February.
The Prime Minister said that a steering committee of various ministries should be formed in order to facilitate the working of Women Development Ministry and in order to improve coordination with other ministries to avoid overlapping of women related issues.
The Prime Minister said that ban on federal government recruitments has been lifted in order to facilitate each Ministry to hire its required staff to ensure good governance. He said it is the responsibility of each Ministry to ensure that such appointments are made purely on merit keeping in view the quotas earmarked for various regions, minorities, disabled persons as well as women.
Advisor to the PM on Social Sector Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali briefed the Prime Minister on various initiatives for women development particularly providing employment opportunities, observing jobs quota reserved for women, checking women harassment at workplaces and to protect them from domestic violence.
She apprised the Prime Minister that 25 Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Centers have been established around the country including 12 in Punjab, four each in Sindh and NWFP, three in Balochistan and one in AJK, while 39 more are under way. The Prime Minister said these Centres should become permanent long-term facilities with public-private partnership on all women related issues and should also involve provincial and local governments.
The Prime Minister was apprised that the Protection against Harassment at the Workplace Bill, 2009 and Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2009 have already been approved by the Cabinet. The Prime Minister was apprised that the Ministry of Women Development is getting technical assistance from international partners including GTZ, UNFPA and UNIFEM for its various women empowerment projects.
In his presentation, the Secretary Ministry of Women Development briefed the Prime Minister on the overall working of the Ministry including National Commission on the Status of Women which is a statutory body established in 2000 and various projects working under the Ministry like Gender Reform Action Plan, which is a gender sensitized governance structure initiative.-SANA