Deeply influenced by the social inequalities around her and inspired by her father’s social work in her early age, Shad Begum would become a known figure nationally and internationally because of her determined struggle to improve the conditions of the marginalized segments, especially women, of her community in the northwest of Pakistan – a deeply religious and conservative area where Taliban publically executed men and women on non-conformity to their version of Islam.
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.
Association for Behaviour & Knowledge Transformation (ABKT)
(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)
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
 Shad Begum is a human rights
activist from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan and a recipient of international
women of courage awards.