Islamabad, Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen M Mazari said every issue that related to the women, children and marginalized group is a national issue. She said problems begin at home regarding women and their mainstreaming in to the society.
Dr Shireen Mazari said that UN should take strong note of the discrimination against women in the western world especially in EU countries where Muslim women have not the freedom to express their social and religious identity. There is a lack of recognition even in the west that they are discriminating against Muslim women, she added. She said in order to address the gender based issues, we have to include the women in all discussions, consultations and in decision making in all areas specifically in policy discussions concerning conflict and natural disasters. She said women are the silent sufferers in conflict zones including presently in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Dr Mazari said that we can only mainstream women in to the national political arena if we look at our future through humanitarian lens not a gender lens.
Dr Mazari said besides awareness, legislation is necessary to strengthen and safeguard the women. She said women have to face the discrimination by the family and society with respect to access at public places and even in health particularly with regard to the lack of discussion on prioritizing health issues relating to women. Ministry of Human Rights has started program on creating awareness against child abuse. She said women have to deal with many threats every day including emotional and physical wellbeing, sexual harassment, assault, rape, so called honour killings and others. She emphasized that the women empowerment begins with women empowering themselves.
‘We have to discourage the discrimination at the level of society and state’, she added. She said we have to encourage and support our children without discrimination on the basis of gender. This is first step in prioritizing women’s issues as national issues.
Shireen Mazari said there is a need for greater legislative protection in particular area of concerns for women which is the need of the hour. She said the implementation of the existing laws protecting the women is more important.
Addressing the audience, Dr Mazari said that Pakistan is over legislated country, we have laws to protect women and children but these laws are not implemented. She said there is a need to implement the existing laws and create awareness about these laws.
Dr Mazari said that Article 25 of the constitution safeguard the equality of all citizens before the law and entitlement of all citizens to equal protection of the law. She said Article 25-2 of the Constitution makes specific references to prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender. This guarantee of equality and non-discrimination should be kept in mind in enforcing any of the fundamental right. Dr Mazari said if we look at many of our cultural and social issues through a Constitutional lens then there is automatic incorporation of women specific issues into the national mainstream agenda. She said there are certain laws which failed to comply with the requirements of equality and non discrimination on the basis of gender. She referred that the section-10 of the Citizenship Act of 1951, dealing with the transfer of the citizenship to foreign spouses is in clear violation of the Constitution of Pakistan. She called upon the law ministry to take note of this because we cannot have a law that violates the Constitution. She said there are also other laws but this law is very basic regarding citizenship and this discriminatory factor is unacceptable because it contradicts and violates our Constitution.
The seminar was also attended by the Speaker National assembly Asad Qaiser and Minister for IPC, Dr Fehmida Mirza, key representatives from Commonwealth countries and legislative assemblies of Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.