ISLAMABAD-Representatives from the Federal Ministry of Human Rights, Provincial Ministers, Secretaries of Women Development Departments and Chairpersons of National and Provincial Commissions on the status of women resolved to expedite efforts to achieve gender equality and pursue women’s empowerment as the world is set to mark the 25th anniversary of Beijing Platform for Action – Beijing +25 next year. The 14th Inter Provincial Ministerial Group meeting was hosted by the National Commission on the status of women in collaboration with UN Women Pakistan.

IPMG is the only interprovincial coordination forum having the potential and effectiveness for supporting the women’s empowerment and gender equality agenda through sharing of experiences, fostering peer learning, and developing strategies to fulfil the country’s national and international commitments. The group consists of Ministers and Secretaries of Women Development Departments from four provinces, Azad Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, Ministry of Human Rights and the Chairpersons of National and Provincial Commissions on the Status of Women.

Pakistan is signatory to international and national conventions that specifically relate to women’s rights and freedom, most importantly, the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women which the government ratified in 1996. In response to the Beijing Platform for Action, as well as the ratification of CEDAW, Pakistan subsequently set up several National Women’s Machineries and pursued numerous initiatives to highlight and implement gender equality and women’s empowerment. Established with the objective to enhance coordination and support concerted efforts for women’s empowerment, the group meets periodically to deliberate on the status of women, identify gaps and challenges, discuss solutions and strategise a way forward on key priorities for gender equality in line with Pakistan’s national and international commitments. The UN Women extends support to the group in terms of providing technical assistance, expertise and capacity building.

Chairperson NCSW Khawar Mumtaz, in her opening remarks, appreciated the provincial WDDs and CSWs for their utmost efforts to protect and promote women’s rights in Pakistan. She expressed her gratitude to the participants for gathering at the very important platform of IPMG. She also thanked UN Women for its support in arranging the meeting as well as continued technical assistance offered to WDDs and CSWs.

Secretary MoHR Rabiya Javeri Agha informed the participants that there are safeguards in the constitution for women and girls’ rights, and strong legislation at the national as well as provincial levels.

However, there’s a need to improve implementation and monitoring and the ministry is working to address the gaps including on data collection.

DG Human Rights Muhammad Hassan Mangi presented an overview of progress on Pakistan’s international commitments, as well as key initiatives being implemented by the ministry.

Provincial ministers and secretaries updated the meeting participants on key provincial gender equality initiatives and strategic plans/policies in 2019 with focus on legislation and implementation mechanisms for ending violence against women and girls and promoting their social and economic empowerment. Chairpersons of CSWs shared their respective strategic plans and provided an overview of the situation as well as progress from their respective provinces.

An interactive discussion put forth key priority areas for 2020, including mechanisms for coordination between agencies and linkages to other institutions, and monitoring implementation of policies and legislation.