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Lahore

September 28, 2016

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Equal opportunities for women demanded

Equal opportunities for women demanded

LAHORE

Speakers, at the first joint dialogue on non-discrimination of women, stressed the need of research, planning and diverse programming to ensure equal opportunity approach at public and workplaces. 

Chief Minister’s Special Monitoring Unit (Law and Order Wing), Punjab Commission on Status of Women and Punjab Women Development Department in collaboration with UN Women (the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) brought together a number of national and international experts who have designed and implemented “Safe City and Safe Public Spaces Programmes” in similar socio-economic and cultural contexts.   

The event held in a local hotel here, addressed issues, challenges and responses to prevent and respond to violence against women in public places as part of UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Flagship Initiative. 

The consultation was carried out under UN Women in Pakistan’s ‘Ending Violence Against Women and Girls’ programme, with support from the Government of Australia to increase participation of women in society as leaders and change makers based upon: (i) access to safe public spaces; (ii) successful remedies against violence against women; and (iii) awareness about rights and services to promote empowerment of women.

Punjab Women Development Department Secretary Bushra Aman looked forward to a deepened understanding of how the use of and access to public spaces relates to and enhances women’s rights, equality and participation.   

Jamshed Kazi in his opening remarks highlighted emerging key promises of UN Women’s global safe city programme initiated five years ago as: the inclusion of a rights based approach of safe cities and urbanisation; the inclusion of women and girls in the research and planning process; and to ensure diverse programming to make sure no-one is left behind.

National Commission on Status of Women former chairperson Khawar Mumtaz highlighting challenges in rapid urbanisation taking place in Pakistan, said “in search of better opportunities a pattern occurs where men move first with women following later. With population pressure increases in urban areas, the ground realities are that cites are faced with congestion, not enough space, health issues, informal settlements, increase in poverty, water and sanitation crises and we find there is not enough food or security.”

A panel discussion on urban and social development as part of a comprehensive approach to reduce violence against women and girls in major cities, focused on issues, policies, and efforts undertaken to deal with problems, and opportunities, arising from the acceleration of urbanisation and security of public spaces for both women and men.

The discussions strengthened commitments from a gender perspective as part of a comprehensive approach to reduce violence against women and girls. Panellists included Akbar Nasir Khan (Chief Operating Officer, Lahore’s Safe City Project), Punjab Commission on the Status of Women Chairperson Fauzia Viqar, Chief Minister’s Special Monitoring Unit Rida Shahzad and Superintendent Police Investigation, Lahore Amara Athar.

In effectively adapting and piloting UN Women’s global Safe City model in Pakistan, presentations and tools were shared by international experts.

The event concluded with designing and endorsing a step-by-step approach on key areas (policy, advocacy and behavioural change) to ‘facilitate’ women and girls to exercise their rights: to move around freely; to use and access public spaces and services; to make choices about their place of residence, work, or leisure; and more broadly, to make the best of the opportunities a city has to offer.

Participants included representatives from government departments, civil society, academia and research institutions, judiciary, security sector, human rights activists, UN agencies and media partners.

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