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Two years on, government yet to appoint committee chairperson, members

By our correspondents
August 18, 2017

Despite passing some progressive laws to secure women’s rights, implementation of the legislations, however, continues to be a distant dream as the government is yet to even prepare drafts of rules concerning the laws.

One such law is the Sindh Commission on Status of Women Act, passed on April 6, 2015. Ever since then, no lawmaker bothered to prepare the rules nor was a chairperson or members of the commission appointed.

This pressing issue was discussed on Thursday at a roundtable discussion held with MPAs, majority females, organised by the Strengthening Participatory Organisation as part of the advocacy campaign of the Provincial Social Forum.

Sindh Assembly members who attended the session were Heer Soho, Naheed Begum, Naila Munir, Sorath Thebo, Kulsoom Akhtar Chandio, Nusrat Seher Abbasi, Ghazala Siyal and Muhammad Ali Bhutto.

Among noted civil society activists, government and law enforcement officials and journalists who were in attendance were former senator and chairperson SPO’s board of directors, Javed Jabbar,  SPO’s chief executive, Saleem Malik, Mahnaz Rehman of the Aurat Foundation, City Division SP Shehla Qureshi and Awami Awaz Editor Dr Ayoub Shaikh.

As per the discussion, the Sindh government was bound to prepare an outline of rules for the commission and establish a committee comprising 21 members, including its chairperson, within 90 days of the Act being passed. 

The 21 members of the commission are to include female representatives of minority communities, seven members representing each division, seven members in gender development, law, social sector and academia, five ex-officio members representing provincial departments of women, law, finance, home and social welfare, not below BPS-19, and a secretary of the commission.

During the session, the female MPAs assured that appointment of the PSCW’s chairperson and members will be finalised at the earliest. However, most of the MPAs criticised officials of the Women Development Department for their uncooperative attitude towards setting up the PSCW, whereas others complained against women-related issues not being the government’s priority.  The participants were informed that owing to PSF’s efforts, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah directed the authorities concerned to expedite the process of finalising the commission’s chairperson and members.

Furthermore, a meeting of the concerned parliamentary committee was also reported to have met to discuss the appointments on the same day, while funds to establishment the PSCW had been allocated in the current year’s budget.  

Ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s MPA Mohammad Ali Bhutto again reiterated majority MPAs decision to have the commission’s chairperson and committee members appointed in upcoming weeks.