Women Judges Being Inducted: Zardari
ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari Friday declared that the government had taken the decision to appoint women judges in the judiciary as part of its efforts to take practical social, economic, legal and constitutional steps for women’s empowerment as well as for their protection from all kinds of exploitation and violence.
Addressing the concluding ceremony of the “One Million Signatures Campaign” at the Aiwan-e-Sadr aimed at ending violence against women, President Zardari said that discrimination against women was deeply rooted in all spheres of society. He said that discrimination against women was not solely limited to Pakistan, and that other countries in the region were also grappling with similar issues. The president maintained that there was a need to bring about a positive change in the attitudes of men towards women. “A traditional mindset takes time to change, but positive actions are being taken to bring about the desired change,” he said, before adding that violence against women was a fundamental violation of human rights and one of the worst forms of discrimination known to society. He further said that exploitation and discrimination of this nature undermined women’s dignity and self-esteem and deprived them of their right to full participation in all aspects of national life.
President Zardari told the gathering that the democratic government was inspired and guided by the vision of former Prime Minister Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. He said that it was during the tenure of his wife that Pakistan had become a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and had also signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). “This demonstrates our commitment to end all discriminatory practices against women from our social fabric,” he asserted.
The president explained that the incumbent government had accorded high priority to addressing the issue of discriminatory laws against women and that concerted efforts were being made to eliminate the abuse of women in all its forms with the active involvement of women parliamentarians and civil society representatives.
While acknowledging the challenges that lay ahead, President Zardari expressed his hope that Pakistan would be able to do much more for the cause of women in the future. He recounted various legislative measures taken by government for the protection of women, and said the 2010 Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010 Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2011 Criminal Law Second Amendment Act and 2011 Women in Distress and Detention Fund Act were just some of the important legislative measures taken in this regard. The president added that efforts were also underway to provide relief to victims of domestic violence through legislation, and disclosed that 26 Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Centres for Women had been established in various districts to provide immediate relief to female victims of violence.
President Zardari told the gathering that the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) had been specifically designed to empower women, and also said that millions of women were benefiting from this initiative. He further said that the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) had been strengthened to monitor the violation of women’s rights in the country through new legislation. “The 2012 National Commission for Human Rights Act has also been enacted to monitor the overall human rights situation. However, a lot still needs to be done,” he held.
The president congratulated the management and those associated with the campaign, as well as all those who had complimented the efforts of the government, civil society organisations, UN partners and donors in addressing issues of violence against women in Pakistan.
Earlier during the ceremony, President Zardari became the millionth signatory to the “One Million Signatures Campaign,” thereby reaffirming his commitment to supporting women-related legislation and raising awareness.The ceremony was also attended by a large number of women members of the federal cabinet, parliamentarians, NGO representatives as well as foreign diplomats.