Thursday, November 27, 2014

ABKT's press release: Government must take steps to stop trafficking of women and girls


Press Release

Islamabad

November 27, 2014

Subject:   Government must take steps to stop trafficking of women and girls

The case of 26 girls’ children recovered by local authorities in Karachi should be an eye opener for all those interested in stopping the trafficking of women and girls, especially from conflict hit areas as they are more vulnerable.  The problem of trafficking in persons has a regional and global dimension yet Pakistan has failed to take effective steps to eliminate the rackets of traffickers. The four-decade-old conflict in Afghanistan and the recent one-decade conflict in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have further compounded the problem of trafficking in persons in Pakistan both internally within the country as well as outside Pakistan. The government must take immediate steps to strengthen the legal framework against trafficking in persons, as well build the capacities of state institutions to fight this menace. ABKT impress upon the government that there is a need of concrete steps to stop the trafficking of persons as poverty and lack of information of parents in the rural areas of Pakistan provide a feeding ground for traffickers. The government must direct the district authorities to establish vigilance committees in each district at village and Tehsil levels and verify the credentials of outsiders who acquire women and girls either in fake marriages or in the name of religious education. The media has a responsibility to aware the public about the trafficking issue within in Pakistan as well as globally. 


Shad Begum

Executive Director                   
Association for Behaviour & Knowledge Transformation (ABKT)

Ph: +92-(0)51-210 08 53   Cell: +92-(0)345- 900 27 68
Email: shadbegum@gmail.com    
Web:  www.abkt.org
Blog: http://shadbegum.blogspot.co.uk/

(ABKT is a non-governmental organization that support sustainable development in Pakistan through the right based approach & potential of local communities to decide upon & manage their own development process)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Report reveals women and youth hold little power in political parties


ISLAMABAD: Although mainstream political parties claim to give importance to women and youth issues, a recently released report revealed that they do not even allow women to vote in election.

Non-governmental Organisation (NGO) Association Behaviour and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT) launched the report at a local hotel on Monday which recommended that parties should encourage merit and allow youth to play a role in party affairs.

Recommendations included a quota for youth in intra-party elections, lifting a ban on student unions and discouraging feudal influence. Elections should be declared null and void in any constituency or polling station that bar women from voting, it said.

The report further recommended that educational institutions should provide an environment to young people to groom their leadership skills and programmes should be organised to increase women`s interest in politics.

Measures should also be taken to increase women`s literacy. It said that the government should also facilitate registration of people living in remote areas.

Most political party representatives present on the occasion claimed that their parties involve women and youth in party matters.

Mufti Ameer Zeb of Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazal said that his party has been working for women`s rights and has been giving importance to youth.

Pakistan People`s Party`s Ghufran Ahad agreed that no political party gives importance to women and young people.

He said that workers were always ignored and sons of influential people grab the most important party positions.

`The current government is not serious about solving the problems faced by young people. Instead of creating jobs, it has been considering to privatising different organizations,` he said.

Farooq Iqbal of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said that his party gave priority to women and youth and even in the next elections tickets would be given to youth.

Sana Ejaz of Awaami National Party (ANP) said that women hold key positions in her party and ANP had women minister when it was in government.

Election Commission of Pakistan Director Public Relations Altaf Ahmed said that ECP believed in a democratic Pakistan. He said that a proposal had been sent by ECP that elections should be declared null and void if ratio of polling by women remains at less than 10 per cent.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan representative Nasreen Azhar said women should be involved in decision making. She said women, youth and people belonging to different religions should be treated the same.

ABKT Executive Director Shad Begum told Dawn that the study includes a survey held in three districts i.e. Upper Dir, Lower Dir and Malakand District. `Study shows that most of the political parties have talked about women and youth in their manifestos but they have no action plan and strategy for them,` She said.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Closing Gender Gaps in Pakistan – Time to Act


Young women leaders in political education program  
By Shad Begum[1]

During the past few years, Pakistani women have achieved international awards in the fields of human rights and filmmaking. These awards include Nobel, Oscar, Emmy, the Right Livelihood Award, and the International Woman of Courage Award. Pakistan stands at rank 72 amongst 153 countries of the world in terms of women representation in the Parliament. This representation is possible only because of the especially reserved seats for women and not because of a greater space for women in politics. Despite these awards and somewhat good raking in parliamentary representation; however, huge gender inequalities exist in Pakistan. The recently published Global Gender Gap Report (GGGR) 2014 by the World Economic Forum reflects on the gender inequalities in the countries of the world including Pakistan. In the GGGR, Pakistan occupied the second-last position, ahead of Yemen only.  Pakistan has been consistently on the second-last position for the last three years in gender inequalities in the world.

The World Economic Forum is a Geneva-based not-for-profit Foundation and according to its website, “is an independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests, working in close cooperation with all major international organizations.”

The GGGR, taking advantage of the data available with credible international organizations such as the ILO, UNESCO, UNDP, WHO etc., has measured the performance of countries along four major indices in the gender gap: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival and Political Empowerment.

Pakistan spends less than the UN recommended 4% of GDP on education. The lack of public spending on education results in under-developed human resource, which leads to poor economic performance. The spending on the overall social sector is far below than the desired level, which affects the health and survival indicator.

Economic empowerment of women is the key to closing the gender gaps in Pakistan but unfortunately women have either no access or control on economic resources. The property rights of women are not enforced as men take the responsibility of managing the economic resources. There are significantly fewer companies which are owned by women in Pakistan. In financial institutions and business enterprises, women are conspicuous by their absence in majority cases. The women workforce in public sector institutions is far below than the desired level to close gender gaps in employment.

The economic dependency of women directly leads to their political dis-empowerment. Although political parties in Pakistan nominate women on reserved seats for the allotted quota in parliament, very few political parties allot party tickets to women on open seats. The representation of women in the political parties decision-making bodies is only cosmetic, as male-dominated decision-making bodies within the political parties take major decisions. The percentage of women ministers in Pakistan is also less than one percent.

Gender inequalities are the result of traditions, customs, and practices that are heavily tilted in favour of men in the Pakistani society. Since policy-making is the domain of men in Pakistan, women’s priorities, by and large, remains outside the scope of development agenda in Pakistan. Almost half of the Pakistan’s population comprises of female but this huge human resource is not fully tapped for economic development.

While this is true that societies develop gradually, we should not forget that deliberate actions and planning can change the realities on the ground just as has been witnessed in the case of some recently developed economies such as China, South Korea and Malaysia.

There is a dire need of shift in policies to close the gender gaps in Pakistan. The National Policy for Development and Empowerment of Women under the National Plan of Action for Women in Pakistan needs a serious attention. It envisages removing imbalances and inequalities in all spheres of life, including socio-economic development and women’s equal access to all development benefits and social services. A policy is relevant only if it is put in action with concrete milestones and timeframes. We hope that the federal and provincial governments in Pakistan will take concrete steps to remove gender inequalities and stand with its head high in the comity of nations. All this is possible only if we bring fundamental changes in our attitudes towards women as equal citizens of Pakistan, but the journey of change in attitudes should start from our homes first.  





[1] Shad Begum is a human rights activist from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan and a recipient of international women of courage awards.