In order to celebrate International 16 Days of Activism for ending Violence Against Women, Department of Gender & Development Studies, Women Institute for Leadership and Learning (WILL), Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) in collaboration with Bedari Organization organized a Provincial Conference and Parliamentary Dialogue on Addressing Violence against Girls in the Punjab 2019.

This activity aimed to raise awareness on Girls Rights among society and to reduce violence like child marriage, child sexual abuse, and societal violence against girls.

On the occasion, Director Program Oxfam Adeel Qaiser said that, “Women and girls deserve to live in communities free from violence. Violence against women is a shared global issue with one in every three women beaten, violated or abused during their lifetime. A documentary titled “Ehsas ki Ruksati” was displayed. There were three sessions in the Conference.

Addressing at the Opening Session, Kaneez Fatima Chairperson-Punjab Women Protection Authority (PWPA) said that ”In Punjab, women’s rights are protected by the Constitution, and other legislative measures taken by the Provincial Assembly of Punjab.”

First session was chaired by Dr Talat Sohail, Director Women Institute for Leadership and Learning (WILL). LCWU Gender and Development Studies Department’s Head Dr Subah Malik and   Bedari Organization Representative Anbreen Ajaib threw light on sensitive issues related to girls rights such as, situation of violence against girls in Pakistan, situation of child sexual abuse and its remedies, girls education as a tool to address violence against girls and gender perspective of right to Education.

Second session on situation of child marriages was chaired by Punjab Assembly’s MPA Sadia Sohail who stated that the government  introduced and implemented several significant measures to counter gender-based discrimination, violence against women, economic and social empowerment of women. Positive steps had also been taken to encourage and promote women’s participation in the political process and the workforce,

Guests Speakers Bedari’s Executive Director Anbreen Ajaib, WISE Organization’s Director Bushra Khaliq and Mumkin Alliance coordinator Nabeela Shaheen discussed child marriage issues in Pakistan and social & health impacts of child marriages on girls.

Third session on girls’ education as a tool to address child marriages discussed about girls education, barriers and opportunities available in girls’ education and role of government and civil society in promoting girls education.

At the end of program Subha Malik and Anbreen Ajaib presented the resolution on the protection of girls rights and shields to the duty bearers and extended their vote of thanks to honorable guests speakers and participants of conference.

A day earlier, A seminar was held on the subject” Female Politicians and Policy Making Regarding Women Empowerment in LCWU. The purpose of the seminar was to highlight issues and progress regarding legislation on women protection and empowerment.

Uzma Kardar Member Provincial Assembly Punjab’s member & Punjab Gender Mainstreaming Committee’s Chairperson Uzma Kardar assured her full commitment to an inclusive political system where women could claim maximum space. She, on behalf of PTI, committed to engage women from all spheres of society in her party. Later on Sadia Sohail raised the concern over low participation of women in political system and urged election commission to come up with more extensive reforms regarding women participation. PTI Women Wing Punjab’s Secretary Seema Anwar highlighted her party’s efforts to engage women in all political and governmental positions. Chief Executive Youth Advocacy Network chief Fasahat Ul Hasan stressed over the need of engaging global community and think tanks in the formation of women related laws. MPA Ayesha Iqbal agreed to raise such issues in parliament and would encourage and support the cause.

South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK) Deputy Director Irfan Muft encouraged the government and political parties to focus on rural women and their inclusion in mainstream political system. We cannot move forward by ignoring a huge segment of our community that resides in villages, he argued. Dr Talat, Director of Social Sciences, ended the session with a vote of thanks.

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